It was a grand opening notable for its show-business flair and its unexpected business projections.
As a rainbow of balloons bobbed in the air-conditioned breeze and an Australian-bush band played ditties like "Waltzing Matilda," singer Olivia Newton-John, a native of Australia, and business partner Pat Farrar recently opened in the Westside Pavilion their second Koala Blue boutique. The original shop opened on Melrose Avenue two years ago.
The event was hailed as Newton-John's first public appearance since the birth of her daughter Chloe in January. And the press turned out in droves, along with celebrities, including Newton-John's husband, actor Matt Lattanzi, who videotaped the event.
Guests who weren't busy posing for the cameras dipped into a lavish breakfast buffet; then came what Newton-John and Farrar hoped would be the best thing on the menu, a display of their new clothing collection, designed by Linda Kinney.
It's a sporty assortment of pastel and bright separates, priced from $12 to $115. Koalas appear on pastel hand-knit sweaters, such as the one Newton-John was wearing with a long cotton skirt and white leather granny boots. Bright prints include vivid tulip-print shorts, camp shirts and sarong-style skirts.
"We haven't even started yet," Farrar claimed after the show, adding that she and Newton-John, who grew up together in Melbourne, are planning to introduce other items, such as linens and cosmetics to the Koala Blue line. Koala stands for "Korner of Australia in Los Angeles." Blue is part of an Australian greeting.
The partners also forecast that, if all goes as expected, more stores will open in the United States during the next five years. Behind the grand-scale prediction is a franchise arrangement with New York businessmen Edward Pastucha and Jon DeLuca.
Juggling motherhood, marriage and two careers, Newton-John says: "Life is the best it's ever been. It's the most fun."
Appropriately, she's made a new single, with David Foster, called "The Best of Me" and shows up in the video wearing a Koala Blue sweater.
Her next project is a starring role in a television film that she says she helped create: "It's a comedy about a woman my age. It's something I've always wanted to do."
She gives away her age (37) without a moment's hesitation. But she and Farrar, who once sang together professionally as Pat and Olivia, aren't so quick to reveal Koala Blue's sales figures.
Hedging for the duo, Newton-John quips: "It's our show-business training never to discuss fees."