British fine jewelry designer Stephen Webster is famous for treating diamonds, emeralds and rubies with an irreverence typically reserved for rhinestones.
Recent pieces from his eponymous collection include a ring festooned with a giant lobster made of diamonds and red corral, a bracelet featuring pave-set poison ivy in yellow gold and rings symbolizing the seven deadly sins — "lust," for example, boasts a brilliant blue tanzanite stone surrounding by feverishly reaching arms and legs rendered in white gold.
And though Webster's offbeat aesthetics — which meld rocker, gothic and even biker sensibilities — have long had a presence in Neiman Marcus and other upscale retailers in the U.S., his first stateside store will debut Monday in Beverly Hills.
The two-floor boutique, which will feature Webster's entire collection, will also multitask as an art gallery, a private dinner space boasting a custom-made table that seats 24 and a full-blown swanky bar. ("It's not like I'm serving champagne in the back," noted the designer. "This is a proper thing.")
Webster, who also has plans to open a store in New York at some point, said he decided to make his U.S. debut in L.A. because of the unique nature of the storefront itself. "The space above the retail space became very important to me," he said. "I love all my stores …but I want to make this the first Stephen Webster-curated space."
Webster, who collects urban art in his personal life, said he's new to the gallery game, but "I have a lot of people I want to show." The gallery above the store will open with a mixture of works "from artists I like," including Banksy and Sarah Lucas. Renowned British artist Tracey Emin has created a neon piece for the store itself that reads, "I promise to love you."
And because the new store has a huge front window that's "really useless for jewelry," said Webster, the shop will showcase revolving window displays created by L.A. stylists, starting with music world stylist Marjan Malakpour.
"How L.A.!" exclaimed Webster. "It's a city full of stylists; you're never going to run out."
But of course the main attraction at Stephen Webster is the bling, which ranges in price from $200 for basic pieces in the brand's silver collection to $40,000 for gold-based fine jewelry pieces (custom pieces can cost upwards of $125,000).
On a street full of staid, stately jewelry, Webster's playful baubles will certainly stand out. "I could not do just ordinary jewelry," said the designer. "Forget it. There's a confidence that you get through having done something for such a long time. And the more confident you become, the better you get at it and the more creative everything gets."
Stephen Webster, 202 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 246-9500. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Current Elliott, Equipment and Joie sample sale Friday and Saturday: Find past-season samples — Current Elliott jeans, Equipment blouses and Joie dresses, tops, bottoms, jackets, shoes and children's styles— at this tri-brand sample sale, where looks will be priced up to 70% off retail. Cash and credit only; no bags allowed inside.
4599 District Blvd., Vernon. Noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Cooper Building showroom sample sale Tuesday and Wednesday: Score deeply discounted past-season looks from hip contemporary and denim brands Rich & Skinny Jeans, Spring & Clifton, Hero Crane, Leyendecker, Wilt, Society for Rational Dress, Gar-de, Grey Antics, Seneca Rising and Something Else.
860 S. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles. The sale will be spread out over two showrooms — Community Service (Suite 1135) and EM Productions (Suite 402). (213) 624-0824. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Avenues' Third Annual Holiday Walk Friday and Saturday: Boutiques along Melrose Avenue from San Vicente Boulevard to Orlando Avenue throw their third annual Holiday Walk, featuring parties, carolers, food trucks, refreshments and special in-store promotions and sales. Fashion spots including Alberta Ferretti, Kitson, Revolve and Costella & Donola Co-op will offer storewide discounts ranging from 10% to 50%, while boutiques such as Alpha, Coco de Mer, Helmut Lang and Theory will be serving cocktails or champagne. See website for the list of specific sales and events.
Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. 6 to 10 p.m. Friday (special programming and events); noon to 4 p.m Saturday (continuation of sales and in-store promotions).
Montana Avenue Holiday Windows Competition Saturday: A handful of boutiques on tony shopping row Montana Avenue host their first-ever Holiday Window Design Competition. Vote for your favorites by picking up a ballot from any store. A vote enters you to win a gift basket full of merchandise from participating stores, which include Three Bags Full, Estell, Palmetto, Engel & Volkers, Michael Stars, Limonaia, the Blue House, Marcia Bloom and Citron.
Window displays on Montana Avenue range from 7th to 17th streets. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Marmi Shoes Holiday Accessories Shopping Soiree Saturday: Marina del Rey footwear and accessories boutique Marmi Shoes throws a shopping soiree featuring one-of-a-kind jewelry by designer Bernadette Garland, costume jewelry from Diva Style — and champagne, hors d' oeuvres and special raffles.
4728 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. (310) 301-0709. 2 to 8 p.m.
Akris Spring Trunk Show Tuesday and Wednesday: Peruse the latest collection from chic Minimalist brand Akris at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.
9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 550-5900. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Couture Salon.
Giorgio Armani Resort Trunk Show Friday and Saturday: Check out the impeccable feminine tuxedos and floral frocks in Giorgio Armani's resort 2010 collection during this two-day trunk show at Neiman Marcus.
9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 550-5900. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Designer Sportswear department.