April 17, 2024

Bijan Pakzad, Designer of High Fashion, Dies at 71

Mr. Pakzad had a stroke on Thursday and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his company said in a statement.

Mr. Pakzad — or simply Bijan, as he preferred to be known — unabashedly promoted the opulence of his glamorous life, his stores and his clientele. He starred in his own advertisements, appearing on billboards and in magazines beside celebrity clients like Bo Derek and Michael Jordan, or posing provocatively with nuns and a rabbi or, in one campaign, a model who slapped his face and, in the caption, called him a chauvinist.

He relished the sort of slogans that would pique the interest of the jet set. One ad described his designs as “the costliest men’s wear in the world.” He claimed to have dressed 36 heads of state, but swore never to name names (except in news releases that mentioned Presidents Clinton, Obama and both Bushes).

His Beverly Hills store (also called Bijan), a Mediterranean-style palazzo that opened in 1976, has carried such luxuries as a $15,000 vicuña coat, a $120,000 chinchilla bedspread and a $65,000 crocodile-trimmed luggage set. The décor was suitably over the top, with $500,000 worth of Persian rugs, a $400,000 Lucite-and-brass staircase and a $75,000 chandelier. The walls were painted a sunny shade of yellow that was a Bijan signature. When he opened a second store on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1984, he said he spent $10 million on its design.

Mr. Pakzad was also known for his jewelry and fragrances; the original cost of his cologne was $1,500 for six ounces, though he later produced several best-selling mainstream versions, recognizable by their doughnut-shaped bottles. But his real specialties were top-notch men’s wear and the art of promotion.

In truth, his clothes were priced merely at the high end of the market ($1,000 suits, $200 shirts), comparable to most other luxury designers. Still, the mention of the Bijan name suggested caviar and yachts.

In 1982, he designed a .38-caliber Colt automatic pistol, made with 24-karat gold parts, for $10,000, to address, he said, “the need of prominent men among my clientele for a protective weapon appropriate to their lifestyle.” He once had $20 million worth of diamonds braided into Ms. Derek’s hair for a perfume campaign.

“I happen to be the most expensive clothing designer in the world,” he said at 65 in a video profile that appears on the Bijan Web site. He added, with an expression of strained sincerity, “I am sorry for that.”

Last year, Rolls-Royce announced that Bijan would collaborate on a limited-edition coupe with a price of $1 million. Mr. Pakzad was also known as a car enthusiast and parked his custom yellow Rolls-Royce on Rodeo Drive. In his 23-car garage in Beverly Hills, according to many accounts, he also had a yellow Bentley, a yellow Ferrari, an Aston Martin, a BMW, a Cadillac. …

Bijan Pakzad was born April 4, 1940, in Tehran. His father, a wealthy industrialist, sent him to school in Switzerland and Italy, where Mr. Pakzad studied design. For seven years he designed men’s wear in Florence. He opened Bijan after moving to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, and quickly expanded into jewelry, fragrances and sportswear, becoming a millionaire many times over.

Mr. Pakzad is survived by three children: Daniela Pakzad, by his first marriage, and Alexandra and Nicolas Bijan Pakzad, by his second marriage, to Tracy Hayakawa, the model who slapped him in the advertisement. Both marriages ended in divorce.

The New York store, which closed in 2000, was a source of perpetual fascination for shoppers because it was also by appointment, a policy that had to be explained to countless frustrated visitors over the years. But Mr. Pakzad said an air of exclusivity was an effective way to attract the customer he was after.

“Anyone can make an appointment,” he said. “I am not snobby.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1ca9b77063f00da095a9c16cfca0d33e

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