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City of Angles

Fashion and Illusion at Sunset Plaza

April 16, 2002|GINA PICCALO AND LOUISE ROUG

Afghan rugs and velvet-covered couches have transformed the crowded parking lot behind Sunset Boulevard into a hippie-inspired love den.

It's Fashion Week in Los Angeles, and the guests at tonight's soiree have dressed accordingly: a slim man in tightfitting multicolored striped pants, a petite woman nearly consumed by her white ankle-length fur jacket and others in faux snakeskin, suede and "deconstructed" garments that have been taken apart and creatively pieced back together.

Everyone hovers near Lorenzo Hadar and his wife, Sharona, the evening's hosts. It's Thursday night, and the Los Angeles boutique owners (known for their nearby stores H. Lorenzo for women and H. Shoes) are hosting a cocktail party to celebrate their newest store in the tony Sunset Plaza shopping area: H. Men's.

Guests move between the parking lot and the store, where H. Men's general manager, Marcus Laxamana, a tall man in white leather, is giving a tour of the place.

The store, a modestly sized space with extremely high ceilings, was designed by Italian architect Oliviero Baldini. Everything--the cash registers, the green velvet chairs, the wooden benches, the industrial hooks, the stone sculptures--has been shipped from Italy. In a loft upstairs, shirts and pants hang on industrial hooks illuminated from above, as in a museum exhibit.

"We showcase our collection as forms of art," says Laxamana, though unlike a museum, "the whole feeling [here] is not to be intimidated about picking this up and touching it."

The real attractions are three glass rooms at the rear of the store disguised by giant pictures of nude men bearing swords and wearing armored helmets. These are the dressing rooms. When a customer approaches, the picture slides away, and the glass fogs instantly. To demonstrate, Laxamana stands inside the room. One moment he's waving. The next he has disappeared behind steamed glass.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Lorenzo greets guests with a kiss and a compliment. A man walks by in a burgundy Moroccan outfit (a long dress-like covering with loose fitting pants) topped by a burgundy velvet derby. "A lot of skirts in here," Lorenzo quips, toward the man. The man smiles and moves on.

Lorenzo wears a classic L.A. look--jeans, a black leather shirt and a beaded necklace and a wrist full of leather bracelets. Lorenzo is relaxed and friendly. There is no need to pitch.

For 19 years, Hadar has established himself with a celebrity clientele. He brings select European designs to L.A. and then sells them to the rich and famous. "I put, I think, more imagination into [selecting] clothes," he says. "And that's my secret."

Meanwhile,

to the East ...

As guests balanced glasses of wine and browsed through vintage and designer clothes behind him, stylist Daniel Caudill (casual, in T-shirt and Helmut Lang jeans) gave his take on which pages in the Thomas Guide map book are the most fashionable.

"Everybody from the West wants to go East," he said.

With their new store "Eastside," Caudill and fashion designer Estevan Ramos (in a beige vintage Givenchy suit) are hoping to capitalize on the area's popularity and to create a Silver Lake counterpart to Fred Segal.

As invitations for the Thursday night opening, the two had sent out paper napkins with the time and date scrawled on them. About 50 people took the cue and came to view their collection of vintage and designer clothes, antiques, bric-a-brac, classic and contemporary art displayed in a former office space on Santa Monica Boulevard.

In the crowd were friends and colleagues, including actress Eliza Dushku, designers Magda Berliner, Eduardo Lucero, Monah Li and Trina Turk, photographer Jonathan Skow and stylist Vincent Boucher.

There were no geographic divides as Caudill surveyed the room. "That's what I like about L.A.," he said. "Everybody's always rooting for each other."

*

Quote/Unquote

"I'm one of those people who when I go over a bridge, I want to jump," Willem Dafoe says in the May issue of Details magazine due out April 23. "... It's just this intense tickle in the back of my throat. It's like I'm on the verge the whole time I'm walking over that bridge, and I'm not going to get a release until I jump."

*

City of Angles runs Tuesday through Friday. E-mail angles @latimes.com.

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