if the devil wears prada then i’ve been to hell (an LA chronicle)

Stuart Weitzman . OhMyGod we have to go in. They’re having a sale.” I say to K.

Poor K has no idea what or who Stuart Weitzman is. “Sure,” she says and we enter.

The store on Rodeo is small yet two salespeople greet us at the door. They actually talk to us and welcome us and tell us about the sale. We have just come out of Ralph Lauren across the street where I found, but did not buy, a pair of purple leather mules on sale for half price at $495. I knew Stuart could be much more affordable in department stores, but I expect the Rodeo store to have sales where shoes were still $200- $300. I am wrong. Every shoe on the sales rack is $75. “Hot damn,” I think “I just might buy something on Rodeo Drive, baby.”

K and I try on several pairs. I find some fabulous black satin high heels with an impossibly cute bow covering the toe. K finds some strappy white heels that she considers for her wedding day. We each buy nothing, coming back to the reality that even at $75 a pair; we don’t live a Stuart Weitzman life. We leave, the salespeople shockingly bidding us a good day.

We are tired by this 2nd hour on Rodeo. We have seen José Eber outside his salon, a woman clutching her toy dog in Chanel, huge canary diamonds at Van Cleef & Arpels, a rail thin blond model standing as a bored yet beautiful greeter at Dior, and the back, private entrances to Armani and Gucci. We are heading toward the car, parked in the sun in a free space in front of someone’s small bungalow and perfectly manicured green lawn. I am thirsty, having downed my bottle of water noisily in Gucci while walking among the fur trimmed dog beds covered in Gs.

We think we were done with the pseudo shopping and the mouth gaping staring and then all of sudden we walk across Plexiglas ovals in the sidewalk. Below the “windows” were human size ant holes with manikins ironing or just posing. There are three of them, two girls, one boy. “What the hell,” I think. K and I look above us and there is no sign, just a massive metallic rectangle as big as a Mack truck above us. People are milling about in the opening to this, store? The entrance is set back and it is all open, there are no doors, but there are two huge human sculptures with no heads resting just under the ceiling. They seem to be holding up the second floor yet they don’t quite touch it. K and I walk in, we don’t know what else to do, we are transfixed.

Inside there are concrete walls and before us a massive staircase that spans across the room leaving narrow “halls” along either side. We walked down the left side and set into the wall there seems to be a concierge of sorts, a young brunette manning a phone. “Is this a hotel?” I think. Just past the concierge’s window there are low tables and set into the concrete walls are lit shelves at hip level. Things are strewn about. Bags, shoes, just stuff covering everything, but with no sense of order. I look closely at one of the bags and see the distinguishable triangle with the word PRADA. I turn, “K, we’re in Prada,” I gasp, my face looking quizzical and amazed at the same time. K doesn’t say anything. We keep walking. We come around to the back of the room and there is another set of stairs mirroring the ones in the front yet opposite so that the staircases make a large triangle in the room. We decide to go up, but have to navigate around shoes and the legs of manikins with no torso. “What the hell,” keeps running through my brain.

At the top of the stairs we turn left and enter a room that runs like small hallways just above the space below so that on the right and left are narrow halls and in the front and back are slightly wider rooms over the stairs. The walls are green and look like swiss cheese. But, there are no smooth surfaces on the walls. There are only holes. I don’t understand it and I follow K’s hand to the wall. It’s plastic, green plastic swiss cheese, “What the hell?”

The rooms are created with the swiss cheese walls on one side and glass on the other to keep you from falling down the stairs. There are metal racks of clothes along the swiss cheese walls with exactly 5 items on each. Thin, tan, bleach highlighted men in black walk around carrying an item or two. They are barely noticeable in this room, the fade, into the…air. When we turn the corner and hit the larger front room I spy the dressing rooms on the right side, above the stairs, I see two little girls playing inside, through the glass. I think, “I know Prada is weird, but who tries on clothes behind glass, in front of strangers?” Then, one of the girls hits something on the wall and the glass goes frosted. “What. The. Hell?”

After I touch some $1500 mini skirts, we leave. K and I don’t understand what we have just seen. Was it real? It will be the topic of many conversations with K’s fiancé that week and it will be the first story I tell friends when they ask about L.A. I’ll say, “I’m going to tell you about Prada, but you won’t understand.” And when I’m done telling them about the swiss cheese walls and the frosted glass they’ll say things like “Weird,” or “Are you kidding?” And I’ll tell them that “yes, it sounds weird, but you still don’t understand. You really have to go. You have to experience it. Go to Prada on Rodeo. It’s worth the plane ride.”

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com Blingo Self-Portrait Day
  • flickr!
  • ~ © Anna ~ it ain't Shakespeare, but it ain't yours either ~