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I am an addict. Contrary to what you might think I am not a slave to artificial stimulants, drugs, anti-depressants or alcohol. What drives my actions, absorbs my being, and consumes my thoughts is shopping. Yes, Jimmy Choos with impossibly high heels, YSL bags in crock and snakeskin, jars of Crème de la Mer and bottles of Creed perfume constitute what I would like to call my "crack." So, when my editor-in-chief suggested

that I do "a little shopping," that is, explore several luxury retail stores and share my findings with our readers, I could barely contain my excitement. Without losing any time I set out from the Standard on a sunny Los Angeles day to discover all that Sunset Boulevard had to offer. Here is an account of my brief journey through kimono tops, silk gowns, sarongs, crinkled georgette blouses and much more...

My first stop was the Catherine Malandrino boutique. Malandrino, a true icon of elegance, has once again proved worthy of her reputation as the mistress of clean-cut, effortless, classic grace by designing a remarkable collection for the summer. As of now, some of her best pieces are available in her store at 8644 Sunset Boulevard, where an extremely pleasant and enthusiastic team of sales assistants are waiting to help you. While reviewing her pieces, I got the distinct feeling that the soon to be legendary Malandrino has stayed true to her vintage inspired pieces. As usual, she has opted to use such nostalgic fabrics as satin, silk and georgette, and placed great emphasis on details such as beading and embroidery. Her impeccable cuts and architectural constructions alá Balenciaga truly set her apart from her contemporaries, and this is all the more reason to invest in a uniquely Malandrino piece. For example, if you are in the market for a beautiful pair of trousers, I would recommend her cargo pants. According to boutique manager Tamila Beatty, Malandrino cargos are, along with kimono blouses and buckle tops, among this season's biggest trend items. These immensely versatile pants can be utilized for an athletic yet classy look during the day, or can be worn in the evening to affect a sophisticated appearance with a young edge. If you are someone who cares less for trends and prefers clothes that will never go out of fashion, you should consider the limited edition, one button, three quarter sleeve lapel tuxedo with satin waistband and no stripe on the sides; it is simply to die for. I am well aware that with the war consumer confidence has hit rock bottom, and we are all striving to be "smart" about our choices when making purchases. So here is my advice: acquire pieces that will endure the test of time. I predict that Malandrino's collection will maintain its classic appeal for many years to come.
Are you a trend addict? Do you alter your style more often than Milla Jovovich? Does your mood correlate directly with your ability to get the latest mother of pearl earrings by Gurmit? If you answered one or more of these questions in the affirmative, you ought to pay a visit to the Hugo Boss Store LA located at 8625 Sunset. The cutting edge clothes designed in lavish fabrics and trendy colors that are hanging on the racks of this spacious store will make you shiver with pleasure. However, be forewarned that Boss's creations are not for timid, conservative types who are afraid of sensation and bold statements. Tight little numbers in red leather, ultra mini derriere hugging skirts and shorts, fitted calfskin biker jackets and lowest-of-the-low-cut faded jeans are some of the pieces that caught my attention. Of course, you could always opt to go with one daring and confident item and tone down the ultimate impact by combining it with a plain, simple article from a different store.

I have never been a big fan of Nichole Miller's 100% polyester evening gowns, because they remind me of the racks and racks of gaudy prom dresses that infest shopping malls every year come graduation time. Therefore I was somewhat reluctant to go into the Miller store located at 8631-33 Sunset Boulevard. However, instead of being greeted by overly beaded monstrosities (thankfully they were in the far back corner) I was faced with fresh, crisp designs in refreshing pastel colors. Pink silk tops, tastefully embroidered dresses with ribbons and loose fitted, flowing pants were reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe in "Roman Holiday." The cruise collection by Miller is also worthy of note. Wide cut 100% linen white pants, a must have of the summer season, combined with cute navy blue or white raw silk tops will make you want to book a flight to St. Barts. That's why, if you are in the area, I advise you to visit this boutique; but make sure you avoid wandering into the back where supplex nylon takes the place of fine silk and delightfully charming tasteful ensembles are swapped with tasteless Caché-esque items.

I am a Mediterranean woman, complete with the full figure, curves, long black hair and a taste for the provocative, sexy outfits that the notorious Carmen would have worn if she were alive today. I love it all… little red dresses, tiny white bikinis, high heels, but above all I love Dolce & Gabbana. My interest in this brand began with when I purchased a tight sateen finish black dress with bra straps in Rome in 1997. Later, my fascination reached an unprecedented intensity when Giselle Bundchen appeared in the pages of Vogue and Bazaar wearing a half-undone corset, slicing a tomato and being kissed on the back of the neck by her lover's succulent lips. There is something about Dolce & Gabbana's designs that ignites a bonfire within both women and the men who adore them. Do you feel depressed? Cast aside the Valium or Zoloft or whatever antidepressant your shrink prescribed. Instead, slip into a lacy Dolce dress and a pair of super high pony skin leopard print mules, and I guarantee that you will feel like Botticelli's Venus emerging from the sea upon her oyster. You may have already guessed that I was extremely eager to visit the D&G store. Though not as "high-end niche" as Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, which is the younger and sportier branch of this house of style, has much to offer those blessed with a wild spirit and good taste in clothes. Tiny fitted cotton dresses with Roman scenery prints, see-through chiffon blouses, ripped white jeans, denim corsets, beige satin fitted dresses with lace trims, white corduroy two piece suits, and cute pink and blue suede mary-janes with ankle straps are just a few of the many fashion finds you can purchase in this heaven for the fashionably loud.
My next stop was the Calypso boutique, a specialty store for resort wear. Whether you are jetting to Turk and Caicos or escaping for a long weekend in Malibu you ought to pack a few items from this store, which has recently become a favorite with Hollywood's young, in vogue crowd. In Calypso you can find go-anywhere

clothes, beaded Jack Roger flip-flops, transparent beaded tops, swim wear and much more. Start with the basic sarong and black bikini or white one piece swim suit and build your island lounge wear wardrobe from there. Trust me, you will find many options in Calypso. Moreover, for the Autumn and Winter seasons this remarkable brand apparently caries chic, luxurious tweed, cashmere and velvet outfits. You can frequent Calypso all year round to escape from the ordinary.
I once told a friend with a taste for esoteric culture and Indy music that I love shopping in Neiman Marcus, because it has so many brands under one roof. After I made this remark my pal looked at me in disbelief and let out a laugh. To this day I am not sure why she reacted the way she did. Maybe she simply could not believe the shallowness of my consumerism or perhaps she thought it odd that someone could be so turned on by a department store. Whatever the reason, I still steadfastly believe that a store carrying several brands often makes for a delightful and convenient shopping experience. Tracey Ross is one of these stores. There one can choose from a tasteful selection of world class names such as Zac Posen, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Fake London, Cynthia Steffe, Katoyene Adeli and more. Though selection is somewhat limited, the pieces on the floor are always chosen with refinement and taste. I personally could not take my eyes off of a black, ruffled fandango dress by Posen, but in the end I resisted the temptation to buy it (the prospect of dragging it up the hill along with my other bags did not appeal to me at all.) There is something for everyone at Tracey Ross, be it a Jacobs pink cashmere sweater, a New York Industrie shirt with Russian Mottos printed across the chest, or simply a Sunday pedicure session. Yes, you read me right. You can get your toes done before putting on your new pair of strappy sandals, all without setting foot outside....That's what I call la dolce vita!

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