After having checked out some of the more up-and-coming areas of L.A, it was time to visit the king and queen of luxury and fashion here: Rodeo Drive and Robertson Boulevard.
The most remarkable thing about both these streets is that the stores really are an extension of the brands themselves. In Paris, London and even New York, most brands are constrained by existing building facades and building codes which they must work around as they design their stores. In Los Angeles, it appears that the brands have complete freedom in design, and therefore, if done well, every aspect from the sparkling exteriors, the natural lighting, the size of logos outside the building, and even the dramatic entrances off the street are messages about the brand. It was truly impressive.
If Abbot Kinney and West 3rd are streets filled with independent boutiques where young contemporary brands get their start, then Robertson is where they go to open their first flagship stores. Tory Burch, American Apparel, Anya Hindmarch, and Nanette Lepore have all opened shop on the street. These stores are mixed in with some of LA's most famous boutiques (Curve, Kitson, Lisa Kline). Yesterday, in line with the celebrity focus of contemporary brands, a Paris Hilton appearance at the Kitson store shut down a stretch of Robertson yesterday due to the "lookiloos" who descended to catch a glimpse of the starlet
Nearby on Rodeo, it's a more distinguished affair (except for the double decker buses using loudspeakers to give highlights to the throngs of tourists from places as diverse as Italy, Japan, and Kentucky). Many stores go all out in trying to draw in the shoppers.
The Chanel store is a glimmering white beacon of sophistication, complete with huge black Chanel logos and digital screens visible from the outside.
Prada takes a more subtle approach. No branding from the outside, but a dramatic entrance and clear Prada signature attracts those in the know using runway highlights from their most recent collection.
Dior Homme uses a 2 story sized image, screaming the last few strains of Hedi Slimane's swan song.
And even Club Monaco offers Valet Parking, elevating its service level to compete with the luxury big boys.