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Store Attracts Retinue of Stars : Giving Hollywood a Good Dressing-Up

April 26, 1985|BETTY GOODWIN | Times Staff Writer

When Robin Plunket and David Keys talk glamour, they mean glamour as in a black sequined dress with a lightning bolt rising from one shoulder. As in a moire "chicken suit" with cock-feather epaulets. As in jodhpurs of metallic brocade with a matching rhinestoned, cropped jacket.

"The slogan at this store is, 'It's better to be looked at than overlooked,' " Keys says.

The Plunket Keys shop on the Sunset Strip is also something to be looked at. Decorated with pearlized walls, black vinyl curtains and a black shag carpet, the shop was created to "put the glamour back into Hollywood" by Englishmen Plunket and Keys and a third partner, Los Angeles socialite Della Koenig.

"This is Hollywood, isn't it?" Koenig asks rhetorically.

The store has already attracted a retinue of movie, television and recording stars including Lisa Hartman, Rita Coolidge, Madleen Kane, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Shirlee Fonda and Lionel Richie's wife, Brenda.

Liza Minnelli is considered a "typical" client. She has purchased four dresses, all custom-made, including the black sequined dress with plunging back that she wore to the premiere of "That's Dancing." She placed her order in the morning, and the dress was finished for her that afternoon. Working on short notice is part of Plunket Keys' service.

Keys designs the custom-made dresses and about a third of the store's ready-to-wear clothes in a workroom adjoining the shop. It's no coincidence that it resembles a Hollywood costume department, with gold rope, feathers and beads spread around the room. The large cutting table, Keys says, originally belonged to the late Edith Head.

After having his own store in Chelsea, Keys left London three years ago to settle here. His old friend Plunket, who had distribution rights to Fiorucci in the United Kingdom, had met Koenig at a dinner party in Acapulco, where she has a home. A longtime customer of Paris couture, Koenig says she's always had a "secret desire" to get into the fashion business, and so a partnership was formed.

All three agreed that they would specialize in clothes made by English designers.

"Designers in London probably take the most chances," Keys says. "They get a lot of their ideas from the street."

But the main reason they decided to specialize in British designers was to give the store an identity.

"We would be too generalized if we bought a little from Los Angeles, a little from New York and a little from London," Keys explains. "The store wouldn't have an overall concept."

New names such as Bastet, Eavis and Brown, Thomas Starjewski ("he's a star--he's going to be fabulous," Keys says), Melody Sachs and a special collection by Zandra Rhodes share space on the clothing racks. The exceptions to the English-only rule are a few dresses designed by Koenig, who hopes to design "very limited editions," maybe six dresses a season. Prices range from $300 to $3,000, with most dresses costing around $1,000.

"People run around in their exercise suits all day," Koenig says. "But with all the balls and charity affairs and private dinner parties, I think women are looking for something innovative at night. You go to a party, and four women have on the same Fabrice. We're trying to be a little different."

By way of example, she points to a white fake-fur coat as fat as a polar bear and lined in gold lame and quips: "It's fun. No?"

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