Traveler’s Journal: The Prada Epicenter

Fresh off a haircut by the genius that is Robert, I headed for the Rem Koolhaas–designed Prada Epicenter―how’s that for a subtly ominous name?―the new Beverly Hills boutique. Koolhaas’s plan for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been canceled, but this couture reliquary offers a chance to look at his innovative ways. Most notably, there’s no storefront. Instead, a climate-control system creates an air curtain to protect against the elements. As for display windows, look down: They’re embedded in the floor.

I realized that my aloha shirt, cargo shorts, and Adidas ensemble was hardly Prada-worthy. I was tumbling into a fashion free fall to rival my haunting Night of the Denim Jumpsuit at my high school’s 1977 Sadie Hawkins dance (theme: Dancing in the Disco Light).

I found strength when I remembered that the gent who followed me into Robert’s chair was a double Oscar winner―and dressed in an outfit comparable to mine. In L.A., it’s dangerous to judge a script by its cover sheet, or something like that.

So acting as if I were somebody, I strode through the air curtain and across the gorgeous wood floors. I appraised too-soft-for-this-world sweaters and leather goods as smooth as the finest olive oil: like butter but better.

The staff proved tolerant, if not kiss-kiss effusive: No point in false fronts, especially in a store with no façade. ―Matthew Jaffe

Prada Epicenter: 343 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; 310/278-8661.

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