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Couture injects high fashion into the club scene

With a runway that bisects the dance floor, the new L.A. watering hole wears its intentions on its slylish sleeve.

November 30, 2012|By Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times
  • Couture features a runway for fashion shows, scantily clad table servers and a large production screen behind the DJ table.
Couture features a runway for fashion shows, scantily clad table servers… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

The beautiful people have a new L.A. club to call their own. Couture, with a runway in the middle of its dance floor — not for tipsy girls with catwalk fever but for actual fashion shows — is built to resemble a chic designer store.

With impeccably soft lighting (think Louis Vuitton at the Wynn in Vegas), Couture aims to stitch the worlds of haute fashion, popular music and glittering celebrity into one sizzling space. Display cases are even built into the bar featuring silk scarves, pricey sunglasses and Swiss watches. Additional displays behind the bar hold spiffy clutches, all of which are available for purchase should that third Sexy in the City cocktail fuel your desire for something shiny and new.

"You used to put on your Sunday best to go to church," says Couture's general manager, Chad Hanna. "Now you put on your Saturday best to go to the club."

Modelizers will be thrilled to know that Couture has given VIP cards to a variety of models, which guarantee them gratis drinks upon entrance. It's like ladies night every night, only these ladies are 6 feet tall and 110 pounds with animé eyes and oh-so-soft perma pouts. In order to attract all facets of the fashion world, additional promotions have been extended to photographers and designers.

"I felt there was a lack of fashion in the nightlife scene in L.A., so we're hoping to fill that void," says Couture co-owner Danny Bitar, adding that the nightclub-with-a-runway concept is prominent in Europe. "Plus the music industry is so involved in fashion these days — so many DJs have their own clothing lines. Now instead of just DJ-ing, they can come in with their fashion line and stage a show." New York-based designer Diego Binetti staged one there earlier this month.

For now, Couture is open once a week for private parties, like the one held last Tuesday featuring English designer Claire Farwell's new vegan-friendly line of faux-leather and faux-suede evening wear (a portion of the night's proceeds were donated to PETA). But through December, it will open to the public on occasional weekend nights. The club will fully launch on New Year's Eve with Maxim magazine's Black & White party.

In addition to serving as a staging ground of fashion shows, Couture is a full-scale dance club and will soon have a restaurant and cafe that will serve lunch, dinner and late-night American food on a lovely landscaped back patio. The patio is part of a string of patios that make up the Cahuenga Corridor's EaCa Alley (a public project that transformed the former derelict alley into a brick-lined pedestrian walkway).

Even Couture's house dancers are chosen with high fashion in mind. On Tuesday, they were dressed in white-lace bodysuits and had thick strings of pearls wrapped over their mouths, rendering them mute in all things save the slinky sexuality they used to slowly writhe atop the speakers surrounding the dance floor.

"We're trying to steer away from go-go dancers in bikinis jumping up and down," says Hanna. "We have to be choosy about everything we do. We want the crowd to resemble the whole concept as well."

High-rollers who spend good money on bottle service at Couture also receive the gift of fashion — maybe a must-have handbag for her and a sassy silk tie for him. Bitar has acquired clothes and accessories from a variety of stores in and around Beverly Hills, including Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana and Hermès.

"They love it," says Bitar of his arrangement with the retailers. "We're promoting their product to their most desired demographic."

That would be the hyper-fashion-focused crowd that showed up at the PETA show. Women tottering on 5-inch heels, their gazelle necks swaddled in silk scarves, mixed with men groomed to a high metrosexual sheen while a DJ pumped driving house music at levels that made impossible all conversation — except, of course, for the kind that happens when hot mouths graze sensitive ears.

jessica.gelt@latimes.com

Couture

Where: 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.

When: Hours vary, check the website for up-to-date information

Price: No cover, guest list enforced

Info: (323) 464-2065; http://www.couturelosangeles.com

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