By  on January 2, 2002

THE EDGY ITALIAN JEANS GIANT'S LATEST SHOCKER: ITS LOS ANGELES SHOWROOM IS LOCATED IN AN UNASSUMING-LOOKING 65-YEAR-OLD HOUSE.

Across the street from hip supper club Moomba sits a quaint, little white house with a red door. It looks like an anachronism in this otherwise trendy West Hollywood neighborhood. But upon entering the Robertson Boulevard edifice, all notions that Mister Rogers has planted roots here are banished. Diesel's new West Coast showroom opens to reveal 20-foot ceilings and skylights reflected in an expanse of dark wood flooring. Clusters of red, orange and lime chairs punctuate the main room.

As the phone recorded greeting says, welcome to "Diesel Planet."

The edgy Italian denim brand rented space in the New Mart for six years, but vice president of marketing Maurizio Marchiori said the new 5,000-square-foot location is in keeping with the brand's history of being "a little out of the box."

"We looked for years for a good location for the products to express themselves," he said. The house fit because "right now people want to be at home, to be closer to one another."

Although the exterior of the 1937 house is intact, nothing remains of the original layout or its successive lives as office space for Columbia Pictures and then a graphics agency. A perfunctory kitchen tucked in the corner serves as a landing spot for catered food ordered for hungry buyers during market weeks. There's also a courtyard and red picnic table in a spot of sun where thin and chilly models like to bask.

The multiline showroom -- which allows the women's, men's and children's lines to hang together with accessories and the 55-DSL action sport line -- is part of the company's effort to centralize.

"One company, one product, one way to communicate," Marchiori said.

Yet no matter how cozy the house-cum-showroom appears, the goings-on inside are bound to be controversial.

On the day of the WWD interview, Marchiori met with photographer -- and new Angeleno resident -- David LaChapelle to discuss Diesel's spring 2002 ad campaign. LaChapelle created an uproar and a storm of publicity for Diesel in 1993 when he tweaked the famous V-Day shot of a couple kissing by replacing them with two male sailors in an embrace.At press time, the company would not confirm whether a deal had been signed with LaChapelle.

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