ANGELES — Sitting at the intersection of Hollywood and
high fashion, it’s no wonder Rodeo Drive is one of the
most fabled shopping streets in the world.
been immortalized in movies, books, song lyrics and on
thoroughfare played a supporting role in the 1990 film
"Pretty Woman," when Julia Roberts went on a
Cinderella-like shopping spree. Eddie Murphy flirted
with a blond in a Mercedes on the same street in 1984’s
"Beverly Hills Cop."
last month, Rodeo Drive was shut down for the elegant
global pop-up dinner party "Diner en Blanc,"
where 1,200 partygoers, fashionably dressed in white,
mingled among the storefronts, further cementing the
street’s reputation as L.A.’s luxury living room.
Hills has gone from an exclusive enclave to a world
icon," says J.F. Lawton, who wrote the screenplay
for "Pretty Woman." "The film business
has become more international, and that has contributed
to the glamorous image of Rodeo Drive as a place where
the rich and famous shop."
stories of Steve McQueen and Grace Kelly going to
Giorgio Beverly Hills in the ‘60s and ‘70s or
Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart having dinner at
Romanoff’s in the ‘50s — Rodeo Drive is the
epitome of glamour," says designer Tory Burch, who
is slated to open a $7 million Rodeo Drive flagship in
the street is in the midst of a renaissance that could
very well ensure its supporting role in pop culture for
years to come.
the first time since the recession, there are almost no
vacancies among the roughly 100 storefronts along the
three-block retail row. On a recent afternoon, the
crowds were thick, albeit with cameras outnumbering
shopping bags and flip-flops outnumbering stilettos.
Cadillac Escalades with blacked-out windows jockeyed for
parking spots, as open-air Starline Tours vans with the
tops cut off hugged the curbs.
it’s Jennifer Aniston!" a tour operator joked,
pointing to an unsuspecting woman in front of the
Michael Kors boutique who was most definitely not
opening of a new Hermes flagship after an eight-month,
$20 million renovation is just the latest in a flurry of
development. From British shoe designer Charlotte
Olympia’s first L.A. store, which opened in June at
the top of Rodeo, to the new $5 million Celine boutique
due south that’s stocking $3,000 trapeze bags, the
luxury business appears to be booming.
went through this period after the financial crisis when
everything stopped … and a lot of the luxury brands
put the brakes on development," says Chuck Dembo, a
real estate broker at Dembo Realty who handles a lot of
luxury retail properties in the L.A. area. "Now
they have started to invest in new infrastructure,
because luxury stores always have to update their look
and keep it fresh. Their image is everything."
hard to say who was first. In October, Dior reopened its
5,000-square-foot store with a design concept borrowed
from the brand’s worldwide flagship in Paris on Avenue
Montaigne. In November, Van Cleef & Arpels reopened
its historic boutique by treating guests to a garden
party and world premiere dance choreography by Benjamin
Millepied. And this spring, Prada ditched its Rem
Koolhaas-designed retail-as-cultural-epicenter concept
in favor of a new, more inviting store.
newcomers to the street include Patek Philippe,
Pomellato, Stefano Ricci, Moncler, Vacheron Constantin,
Barbara Bui and Frey Wille. Coming soon will be Vera
Wang and Burberry. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton and Saint
Laurent are both embarking on multimillion-dollar
renovations of their stores.
the Internet and social media and how important
celebrity is to brands, being here is a must," says
Jay Luchs, executive vice president of real estate
agency Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, who has handled many
properties on Rodeo Drive. "Celebrities are luxury
customers too. And brands want them to have easy access.
Because the minute someone famous wears something here,
it goes around the world. By being on Rodeo Drive, they’re
getting celebrities, locals and tourists."
indicator of the value of a Rodeo Drive address is that
luxury brands are starting to buy their stores instead
of just leasing them. In May, Chanel bought 408 N. Rodeo
in one of the highest per-square-foot sales in Los
Angeles County, reportedly paying $117 million for the
13,317-square-foot property. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis
Vuitton bought 319 Rodeo for $85 million, and Hermes
bought its building for a reported $75 million.
deals happened because those brands are looking at Rodeo
as a long-term investment," says Luchs, who worked
on the Chanel and LVMH deals. He also noted that
competition for leases has been heating up.
while it may appear on a Saturday afternoon that there
are more looky-loos on the street than high-end
shoppers, the stores on Rodeo Drive are not just
billboards for brands, Luchs says. "They want to do
well, and if they don’t, they will leave."
Danziger, a luxury market researcher and founder of
Unity Marketing, agrees.
they used to sell mostly through Saks, Neiman Marcus and
other department stores, many luxury brands are now
establishing more of their own solo branded
stores," she says. "There’s more
profitability, and they’ve discovered they are the
best equipped to sell their stuff."
Drive is also being bolstered by (and helping to
bolster) development on surrounding streets. Beverly
Drive has become a hot spot for contemporary brands. All
Saints, Theory, Alice & Olivia, Intermix and Scoop
recently opened there, and Maje, Sandro and IRO are
coming soon. With the Wallis Annenberg Center for
Performing Arts set to open in Beverly Hills in October,
there are plenty of attractions to lure shoppers into
making a day of it here.
came to the realization that instead of trying to be
different, they should go to a location where everyone
is going to find them," says Luchs. "Beverly
Hills is back because it’s a place you’re going to
STORY CAN END HERE)
EVOLUTION OF A LANDMARK
follows are a few highlights from the history of one of
the most famous streets in the world.
E. Green and other investors buy land on the former
Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas. The land will become Beverly
Hills, and the city’s main street is named … Rodeo
Drive. It eventually develops into and remains a fairly
quiet suburban street with beauty shops, hardware
stores, gas stations and bookstores for several decades.
Warner Bros. publicist Richard Carroll decides there’s
no good place for a man to buy a suit in West Los
Angeles. He opens Carroll & Co. on the second floor
of a Beverly Hills medical building. A few years later,
Carroll & Co. moves to the corner of Rodeo Drive and
Little Santa Monica Boulevard.
Hayman opens the Giorgio Beverly Hills boutique. With
its iconic yellow-and-white-striped awning, it’s the
first high-fashion luxury boutique on the street and
quickly becomes a civic landmark where customers can sip
a cocktail while shopping or have their purchases
delivered to their home by a courier in a Rolls-Royce.
jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels — known for its
commissions issued by European royals and prominent
industrialists — opens a flagship store on Rodeo.
Forty years later, the French jeweler acknowledges the
influence of the Golden State as it launches
"California Reverie," a collection of
one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by West Coast icons. (On
the "Paysage d’Opal" clip, a large opal is
the backdrop for two diamond palm trees, creating a
brooch that is priced at about $350,000.)
Sassoon opens a salon on Rodeo Drive, only his third
worldwide. Three years earlier he had ensured a spot in
the pop-culture pantheon — flying into Los Angeles
from London to cut Mia Farrow’s hair for her role in
"Rosemary’s Baby." Farrow’s pixie cut was
copied by women around the world.
novel "Scruples" by Judith Krantz is released.
The book tells the story of a young widow who inherits a
vast fortune and opens a boutique on — where else? —
Rodeo Drive. The novel is a smash hit, and in 1980
Warner Bros. Television produces a miniseries based on
launches the Giorgio Beverly Hills fragrance. The launch
party is held in Giorgio’s parking lot, under a
yellow-and-white-striped tent. More than 70 pounds of
caviar are served.
Rodeo Collection shopping complex of 45 retail boutiques
opens. The next year, it is featured in the Brian De
Palma thriller "Body Double." Current stores
include La Perla and Stuart Weitzman.
"Beverly Hills Cop," one of the first things
Detroit policeman Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) does upon
arriving in Beverly Hills is drive down Rodeo Drive.
When Axel flirts with a blond in a convertible,
moviegoers get a glimpse of the Cartier boutique.
European-style shopping street Two Rodeo Drive opens.
The current lineup of stores includes Lanvin, Versace,
Jimmy Choo and Tiffany.
the film "Pretty Woman," a "beautiful
prostitute" (Julia Roberts) goes shopping on Rodeo
Drive and is snubbed by salespeople who are dismayed by
her appearance. The next day her "client"
(Richard Gere) sends her out on a shopping spree,
eventually returning to the shop that snubbed her to
remind the clerks of the purchases they could have
overseen. Shopping binges in the movies would never be
"Beverly Hills 90210’s" third episode,
"Every Dream Has Its Price (Tag)," Brenda (Shannen
Doherty) and Kelly (Jennie Garth) go shopping on Rodeo
Drive with Kelly’s old friend Tiffany (Noelle Parker),
but drama ensues when the girls learn Tiffany is a
opens the Western-themed Guess? Ranch, the first
"down-market" store to open on Rodeo Drive.
Other brands more associated with shopping malls than
high couture will open shops on the street.
opens a boutique designed by noted architect Rem
timepiece manufacturer Patek Philippe opens its first U.
S. boutique on Rodeo Drive. In the same year, the 99
Cents Only Store proposes opening a store on Rodeo
Drive. Other tenants on the storied street are less than
enthusiastic about the idea.