Unlike cultural icons in general, L.A. icons can be created by jeans and world peace. Think of Fred Segal, the man who brought us the eponymous 800-pound gorilla of a boutique. His name has become synonymous with style. In 1968, Segal set up his illustrious über-shop at the corner of Melrose and Crescent Heights, and a thousand asses have squeezed into the very latest in designer jeans ever since. Fred Segal is the high-fashion holy land to which a million Manolos have since clattered in search of the au courant. Segal himself cashed out a while back — his son Michael won’t say exactly who now owns the Melrose location (read nasty divorce), but Ron Herman runs its biggest section. And the Melrose store was only the beginning. Segal and son (Michael runs the day-to-day operations of the family business) went on to open their Santa Monica location in 1985, which they still co-own and which houses Fred Segal Beauty, a modest little salon-and-spa operation that gives the VIP treatment to everyone from Uma to Pam Anderson. And April 1 saw the launch of FredSegalFeet.com, which will make the designer shoe collection — everything “from $60 flip-flops to $7,500 sneakers encrusted with 5-karat diamonds” — available online. But there remains the mystery of Fred Segal the man. Is all that famous flair only denim-deep? Nope. Segal’s more than the man putting women in True Religion jeans, he’s apparently very big on world peace. He has gone so far, in fact, as to build a “Peace Park” in war-torn Malibu (experts agree it kept Colony Drive from turning into the next Rwanda). It’s the kind of place where you can sign up for yoga classes or daydream about getting a Birkin while sitting through lectures on ecology or nuclear disarmament. I’m thinking about going, but it’s one of life’s odder sensations to realize that Fred Segal doesn’t just want your legs — he wants your mind too.
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