Vera Wang Headed to Rodeo Drive

Dialed-in as she is with the Los Angeles scene, the designer will make that connection even tighter with next year’s store opening.

Dialed-in as she is with the Los Angeles scene, Vera Wang will make that connection even tighter with next year’s opening of a Rodeo Drive store.

This story first appeared in the July 26, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As a go-to designer for red-carpet-bound actresses and VIP brides, Wang has a Hollywood home and spends up to five weeks on the West Coast each year. With the lease for her Melrose Avenue boutique up in a few months, she plans to move into the two-tier, 5,500-square-foot boutique at 428 North Rodeo Drive in January. “So much of my business and my perspective is from and done in Hollywood,” Wang said Thursday.

“We are ready to take on a more international neighborhood. But it’s not as though L.A. is an unimportant city given our affinity for Hollywood,” Wang said Thursday. “It is the second-biggest city in the country. And it is certainly a city that reflects and recognizes all of our culture — the arts, music and fashion

The company will move into what Hermès has been using as a temporary space until its new freestanding store a few doors down opens in early September. “Anything that has Hermès on it I’m glad to participate in,” Wang quipped.

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Saint Laurent also has a pop-up store nearby while its Beverly Hills location gets an overhaul. Having secured her own location this spring with the help of chief operating officer Bill Mitchell, Wang said, “We were very lucky to have gotten the space because a lot is already [taken] on Rodeo.

For the store’s design, Wang turned to Brian Sawyer of the New York-based interdisciplinary architectural firm Sawyer Berson. He also got the nod to renovate the designer’s New York apartment two years ago. Once the new Los Angeles address is set, Vera Wang bridal, red-carpet gowns, ready-to-wear, fragrance and accessories will be showcased. “It will be a whole compilation of things. We are working on a new shoe deal, so there should be that too,” Wang said. “There is a very international crowd in LA. There are a lot of shoppers from the Middle East and Asia — that’s a hop and a skip away — as well as all the local ethnicities. It’s a huge world.”

Before the financial crisis a few years back, Wang had lined up a second Melrose Avenue lease for her Lavender label. After hitting the brakes on that project, the company kept the location, but never moved in. As is the case with all of her five locations in the U.S., the new one will be owned and operated by her company. Internationally, there are a total of 20 Vera Wang and Vera Wang Bride shops, with a Beijing store scheduled to open in the next 18 months. The designer has set her sights on Miami and eventually Paris for freestanding stores, but she has yet to sign a lease in either city.

Having been making regular trips to Los Angeles for the past 24 years, Wang’s celebrity quota shot up after Sharon Stone wore one of her floor-length skirts to the 1998 Oscars. But don’t expect the designer to become bicoastal after her Beverly Hills store opens. She said her travels will continue to center on the lead-up to the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars, as well as the occasional photo shoot. “I have never lived there, nor would I live there. I have a business to run in New York,” Wang said.