L.A. celeb shopping trail

Fashion is the art of the ’90s, this according to Tiffany Dubin, who launched Sotheby’s fashion department last February. If that’s so, then everyone from Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz to Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Depp qualify as curators.

“Celebrities love to shop,” says a salesman at a high-profile Beverly Hills boutique. “They’re savvy and demanding customers. And they’re fickle. They can afford anything you’ve got in the store, so it takes something special to keep them coming back.

Some of the stores that do:

The Beverly Hills branch of Barney’s New York, which has sold clothes and doodads to Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, Jack Nicholson, Cher, Oprah Winfrey, Ashley Judd, Cameron Diaz and Jim Carrey.

Some celebs send their personal stylists, others shop in person, picking up everything from a $15 makeup brush to a $1,500 dress.

“You name them, I’ve seen them here,” a regular customer says.

Rita Watnick of Lily on Burton Way has been catering to specialized tastes since 1979, when she opened her vintage clothing store. With a warehouse for the more than 500,000 items she has collected over the years, and a 4,000-square-foot retail space for the 10,000 pieces she keeps in stock at any time, Watnick attracts an illustrious clientele.

Demi Moore was one of her first customers. Others, like Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss, Sharon Stone. Naomi Campbell, Winona Ryder, Courtney Love, Johnny Depp, Whoopi Goldberg, John Travolta and Kelly Preston have become regulars.

“They want things that are completely their own, unique and fabulous and will serve them well both personally and publicly,” Watnick says.

Lily’s prices begin at about $85 for a blouse or slacks, hover at $1,000 for a dress, and climb to $70,000 for a 1933 haute couture Chanel. Watnick stocks jewelry, gloves, scarves, handbags and hose. And she’s looking to the future.

“I do buy modern clothes, like Chanel and Versace, but don’t put them in the store,” she says. “They get put away for 10 or 15 years at a time, and then we bring them back.”

Ali Rahimi, owner of the custom salon Mon Atelier on N. La Brea Ave., helped Joely Richardson with her wedding wardrobe and recently dressed “Fargo” star William H. Macy for his Aspen nuptials.

“It’s a small salon, and we create a very friendly atmosphere,” Rahimi says. “I sit down with every client, find out what they need, and design something they’ve either visualized, or help them create something new.”

Prices range from $1,200 for a cocktail dress to $10,000 to $30,000 for more elaborate or detailed gowns.

Celebrities brush shoulders with costumers and stylists at Diane Merrick on Melrose Ave. Julia Roberts, Tori Spelling, Bridget Fonda, Ellen DeGeneres, Renee Zelwegger and Bette Midler shop for cashmere sweaters, silk shirts, chic suits and cotton tees.

“When you walk into the store, you’re in a warm, friendly place, a user-friendly boutique,” owner Diane Merrick says.

Higher-end clothes and shoes can be found in an intimate 2,000-square-foot boutique at Madison on S. Roberston Blvd. Meg Ryan, Courtney Cox, Rita Wilson, Cameron Diaz, Lauren Holly and Winona Ryder are regulars who troll for the good sweaters, hip dresses.

“The people who work and shop here aren’t star-struck, so celebrities feel free to come in and know they’ll be left in peace,” a clerk says.

Les Habitudes on N. Roberston offers an eclectic collection of romantic dresses that draw an equally eclectic mix of shoppers like Andie McDowell, Pamela Anderson Lee, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan.

“Bruce (Springsteen) was in here, playing with his kids while his wife was trying on dresses,” a shopper said. “It’s a fun place with beautiful, fantasy clothes. I always find something I want.”

A wide-ranging mix of hip European designers. New shipments every two weeks draw a wide range of stylists and customers like Justine Bateman to The Shoppe: Destination Clothing on Mulholland Hwy.

“We have a quick turnover of our stock, so whoever gets there first, buys it,” a sales clerk says.

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