Stephen Sprouse is ready for the Beverly Center, but is the Beverly Center ready for Day-Glo walls, black lights and a store as visually unsettling as a TV test pattern?
This venture into the heartland--the great American mall--is an experiment for the New York designer, who is to the fashion scene what Zodiac Mindwarp is to music. For starters, almost everything he designs glows under black lights.
It's guaranteed that you won't find Sprouse at a table next to Bill Blass and the rest of the Le Cirque lunch bunch in Manhattan, although some of his dress designs cost as much as Blass'.
"I don't think Bill Blass will run into us at McDonald's," said Sprouse prior to his store's opening on the seventh level of the behemoth L.A. shopping center last weekend.
Sprouse is not the picture of gentility either, a trait most designers can cultivate to perfection. He was in town to promote the opening of his boutique, which pulsates with rock-music videos on 20 television monitors and on a large-screen projector. But he refused to have his photograph taken inside. "If I can't look at the proof sheet, then forget it," he said, although eventually--grudgingly--he posed for a picture.
With one free-standing shop, in New York's Soho district, Sprouse became intrigued with the mall concept, "an American social phenomenon," he said. If his second store, in Beverly Center, is successful, he will open another in the Columbus City Center Mall in Columbus, Ohio, he said.
Sprouse's friend, the late Andy Warhol--"he was one of the better people I've ever known"--would be proud. "He would have liked the mall concept because they're so popular, so product oriented, you know, crank it out."
Prices for men's and women's clothes start at $20 for a T-shirt and go up to $2,000 for a sequined dress.
Astrologer Linda Goodman has to be one of the oddest pitch people ever to hit the promotional road.
Signed by Omega to publicize its line of New Age-inspired watches at Bullock's (priced from $595 to $16,500), she has this to say on the subject: "I'm not in the habit of wearing watches, because I don't believe in time. There is no such thing as time. Time is an illusion. But one has to deal with the false reality of it on Earth."
Furthermore, the best-selling author ("Sun Signs," "Love Signs" and the new "Star Signs") explained that she's received requests to advise, consult and market from dozens of companies, and has always said no.
"This is the first time I've ever done it. I'm not endorsing it. I'm here to say this watch appealed to me and no other watch ever has." And, yes, she now wears one.
Carroll & Co., that bastion of conservatism and traditional men's suiting on Rodeo Drive, has gone Hollywood.
George LeMaire, formerly a senior vice president of Columbia Pictures, joined the staff earlier this year. He is running the store's lucrative entertainment division, which provides menswear for film and television productions, including Aaron Spelling Productions, Paramount and Disney studios.
LeMaire is finding the retail business more secure than the entertainment industry. Not long ago, David Puttnam, the recently deposed head of Columbia, stopped in to buy some shirts and socks.
LeMaire said: "Puttnam looked up, recognized me and said, 'George, how happy I am you finally found a stable business to be in. You've got fast decisions and one owner.' "