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Boutique Beat

Boutique Environment Is Solid as a Rock

November 15, 1985|JENNIFER SEDER

At first glance, Contents looks somewhat like a futuristic, unfinished building site. Or perhaps a high-tech, concrete bomb shelter decorated with black rubber-tire curtains, black track lighting, scaffolding and directors' chairs.

But the 2,000-square-foot space--composed entirely of poured concrete walls, floors, display shelves and tables--is, in fact, one of the newest and most unusual boutiques to open in the Beverly Center this year. Proprietor Herb Fink, who also owns the Theodore, Country Club Fashions and Sonia Rykiel boutiques, calls the look of the place "minimal" and prides himself on art gallery-like, custom-made features such as inlaid steel strips on the floor, genuine scaffolding (used as dress racks) and dangling telephone wires on the ceiling, which snake in and out of track lights.

There are also life-size cutouts of Chinese workers walking across the walls and ceiling in the front display window. The hand-painted, compressed-wood figures are by L.A. artist Stephen Verona.

"Intense--that's what I call the spirit of the place," Fink says.

"We want to project a strong, focused point of view. Surrounded by all this concrete, how can you not be focused?" he asks rhetorically. "I mean, the window displays alone weigh 600 pounds apiece. "

The contents of Contents is primarily casual. The shop carries men's, women's and unisex separates by such designers as Fink's wife, Norma Fink, and Kenzo, Katherine Hamnett, Issey Miyake and Claude Montana. Prices are, for the most part, lower than those of Theodore and Theodore Man in Beverly Hills, but Fink emphasizes that he is not necessarily trying to attract a younger clientele.

"The clothes are like the environment--no gimmicks, nothing contrived," Fink says, eyeing the concrete beams, shelving and displays.

"You can't help but get the feeling that we plan to stay here for a while."

Seventeen years ago, when Fink opened Theodore on Rodeo Drive, permanence was the last thing on his mind.

"We didn't really plan to stay that long," he recalls, "and we decorated it with that in mind." Fink says the shop was purposefully given a casual, temporary look, featuring wicker couches, canvas fitting-room doors, chrome dress racks and straw carpeting.

"We wanted to be able to pick up and leave without too much fuss," he recalls.

"Now this shop here is a different matter. You'd probably have to bomb the place to remove a wall."

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