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Bijan Pakzad dies; Beverly Hills designer of luxury menswear

Bijan Pakzad, an Iranian American designer of jewelry, fragrances and luxury menswear who ran a Beverly Hills boutique and was renowned as clothier to some of the world's most powerful men, died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said.

Pakzad's family maintained he was 67 despite some public records that listed his age as 71.

Pakzad suffered a stroke while working Thursday and was rushed to the hospital but never recovered, said his 19-year-old son, Nicolas Bijan Pakzad.

"He's dressed over 40,000 clients," his son said, including Presidents Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. "We have a picture of all five living presidents wearing his suits." He said his father once named a fragrance DNA in honor of his three children, Daniela, Nicolas and Alexandra.

Times fashion critic Booth Moore said Sunday that Pakzad was "a larger-than-life personality whose ultra-luxe Beverly Hills boutique helped to make Rodeo Drive a world-class shopping destination. Long before Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld, Bijan had a keen understanding of the cult of personality in fashion, starring in his own ads and billboards, name-checking countless celebrities and parking exotic cars outside his store, all to stoke his fame."

Pakzad was born April 4, 1944, according to his family, although some public records list the year of his birth as 1940.

He was born to affluence in Iran, went to a boarding school in Switzerland and moved to the United States in the early 1970s. He opened House of Bijan, his by-appointment-only boutique on Rodeo Drive, in 1976. He was often referred to only by his first name. He offered exclusivity and, rather than apologize for staggering prices, made them a selling point, boasting in one ad that he sold "the costliest menswear in the world."

"I am not a mass designer," Pakzad told The Times in 2003, when sales of his fragrance lines, clothes and custom jewelry reportedly totaled more than $70 million annually. "What was important to me was not to have 2 million clients, like Versace, but to have 20,000 clients." He said he had invoices reflecting clients who spent $800,000 on a single visit.

Pakzad was not shy about acknowledging an outsize ego. "With my ego, I would have been successful anyplace, but America gave me the opportunity to show my taste," he told The Times.

Pakzad's boutique sold $6,500 suits, $19,000 ostrich vests, and carried the names of clients ranging from Michael Eisner to King Juan Carlos of Spain. He drove a mustard-yellow Rolls-Royce, and beginning in the 1980s also had a store in New York, though it later closed.

In addition to his three children, Pakzad is survived by a sister, Shanaz, of Newport Beach; brothers Fara of Berkeley, Fari of Newport Beach and Cyrus of San Francisco; a grandchild and longtime girlfriend Mahtab Mojab. Pakzad was married and divorced twice.

A private service will be held this week, Nicolas Pakzad said, with the possibility of a public service at a later date.

christopher.goffard@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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