Sunday, 17 April 2011

An Expensive Existence Failure

   Through StyleForvm this morning, I have learnt that we now have yet another Fabulous Dead Person to memorialise. Petkanas, I'm counting on you

Bijan Pakzad, 4 April 1944 – 16 April 2011

With my ego, I would have been successful anyplace, but America gave me the opportunity to show my taste
   Despite my raft of accidental globe trotting, I've never gotten around to visiting Beverly Hills, but between clever marketing, the world press and two seasoned Earth travellers whom I call "Mum and Dad," I had a wisp of an awareness about this alluring brand Bijan and how it filled the closets of the great, the good and primarily, the wealthy. Naturally, it was his range of scents - always one of the easier ways to integrate a designer's name into one's possessions - and that striking, almost graffiti-like logo that made a lasting visual impression on me; an indelible link to the glitterati of the planet might also have had something to do with that

   'The Persian Master of Fashion' - and a proud one at that, steadfast to his Iranian roots to the last, which is even borne out by the music on his website - was known for his 'appointment only' visitor's hours; highly appropriate, given that he had custody of "the most expensive store in the world," grown through his charm, good fortune, entrepreneurial nous (apparently genetic; his family was staunchly self-made) and dogged industriousness. He dressed a list of men so illustrious that they have been typed out and published in better obituaries than this one, as well as in his Wikipedia entry (his son Nicolas stated that he dressed over 40,000 clients, including all five living American Presidents). He was exceedingly fond of the colour yellow - good for him, me and you. And he loved his automobilia, did this one - every single write-up will probably mention how he enjoyed parking the jewels of his four wheeled fleet outside his store before attending to the whims and wants of those who came a'calling

   His signature flair for design splendour was hardly confined to clothes and fine living, and in the late 1980s, he sought a more luxurious way to fire bullets, achieving it with a Colt revolver made from gold. But then when of his most perceptible traits was how greatly he loved his work; you can see it in every twinkly eyed portrait taken to show that this brand had a face and it was that of a kindly, charismatic, expensive Iranian who would transform one from schlub to film star for the price of the average home and make it feel worthwhile. But back to the handgun:

The gun had a leather handgrip fashioned for a .38-cal. Colt revolver; inlaid in the cylinder was 56 grams of 24-karat gold. The revolver was placed in a mink pouch in a Baccarat crystal case embossed with the customer's name. Bijan's own signature is engraved in gold on the barrel of the gun. Only 200 such guns were made. In 2005, one of these guns sold to Jacob Nahamia at Christie's auction house for over $50,000 USD.

   The Bijan brand will endure, of course - it is a family enterprise - but naturally, the stewardship will be different and perhaps a little less aureate. So to conclude, I think it's only polite that I highlight an ethos worth sharing in:

The world said to conform, the world said to settle for less, the world said to compromise and no one would know... so I made my own world

   Godspeed, Mr. Bijan


David Toms said...

I do so remember Bijan from my youth, growing up in rural Australia. it always seemed so luxurious.

The Devoted Classicist said...

It is possible that the claim of dressing US Presidents had more to do with gifts of sports clothes that actual wardrobe purchases. The clothes all had a unique style, more flashy as opposed to fine design, high quality workmanship but outrageously priced. The Bijan store on New York City's Fifth Avenue in the 1980s featured a front room that was essentially just a display window as the door was locked. Paying customers, mostly rich Middle Easterners, were ushered back into privacy. No doubt the fragrances were profitable, though, and it is possible the boutiques were a public relations promotion for the name as much as anything.

Barima said...

David, the latest Leather Lust Object entry would underscore yoyr point

John, that is exactly the sort of learned perspective I enjoy reading here. I think that the claim could supposedly be corroborated by photographic evidence, but it's a less interesting fact than what was at the core of Bijan's business skill - that he was one of the canniest marketers the world has known

All best, fellows,