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In A New Light

OFF THE RUNWAY

A kinder, gentler Alexander McQueen opens on Melrose. And you won't believe the skylight.

April 06, 2008|Adam Tschorn | Times Staff Writer

He couldn't ask for a better "brand awareness" launch pad than the sprawling 3,100-square-foot store at the corner of Melrose and Orlando avenues, near the Marc Jacobs encampment. The place, set to open Tuesday, is guaranteed to draw eyeballs, even from car-trapped Angelenos. Above the store, a billboard will showcase artwork by McQueen collaborators, including David Bailey, Nick Knight and Sam Taylor Wood, while the top half of a 9-foot metal sculpture of a naked man, arms outstretched, emerges from the skylight. It's "Angel of the Americas" by British artist Robert Bryce Muir, and the lower half extends into the store.

"And it's anatomically correct," McQueen points out with a small measure of glee. "It's the first time we've done something like this, and it will tie the billboard and the store space together."

The Will Russell-designed interior, which McQueen likens to a cathedral, will be "bone white" with curved ceilings, "stalactites" and walls with built-in shelves, and hangers that look as if they're carved out. "I want it to be a complete blank canvas, something that will transcend time so that whatever collection you put into the space will work."

The store will house the full women's and men's collections, accessories, shoes and eyewear -- but not the designer's denim-based McQ line. "There will also be more of a lean toward specialty pieces, more evening pieces and some pieces I'll put in the collection just for L.A.," McQueen said. "And I'll need to have a lot of red carpet numbers on hand."

That, and the obligatory on-premises VIP room are about the only concessions he seems willing to make to the Hollywood star system. "The people who wear McQueen wear it because they want to wear it, not because it's the new thing in town," he said.

For his grand-opening bash May 13, McQueen will dispense with the red carpet. "It's going to be a blue carpet, actually. The inside will be glowing red -- the colors will symbolize the good and the dark." He said he's going for a New Orleans lounge vibe where his guests can mingle. "Because I'm not too fond of these openings, I find them quite superficial."

He wanted his friend, crooner Amy Winehouse, to perform for the opening "But she's having visa problems." He's got another lovely on tap to help him host, but is mum about who it is.

It's a pretty safe bet her last name isn't Hilton.

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adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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