North Beach Leather

First, frame these necessary details in your mind. The time period is early to mid 80’s, nearly 40 years ago. That is scary for me to write in itself! Anyone in the world who desired to become a designer in their future strived to be accepted into Art Center College of Design. Unfortunately for many, ability was not the only requirement. Art Center is a very expensive and prestigious private college, so the dollar keeps many attending college #2.

Students for the most part had families that had lots of money. Of course there were levels of wealth but no one cared much, and no one acted superior to anyone else. We were truly a humble group. So much so that one would at times feel guilty mentioning that you even attended Art Center while chatting to another student attending design school #2, or #3. We would often run across others at the local Pasadena or Glendale art/service businesses.

Here’s a snapshot of the wealth: Family businesses, living scenarios, and/or positions at corporations that I was aware of included: Dad is Vice President of Universal Pictures, Family started one of the largest savings and loan banks in the US. Oh, also funded an entire wing at a large museum, and funded a theater at the Los Angeles Music Center. Mom and Dad, who live in France purchased a home for their daughter in Beverly Hills after she graduated. One of my friends got a speeding ticket one weekend while driving dad’s Rolls Royce.

Again, those examples are just a snapshot of what I was around at Art Center. Incredible as it all may seem, it was our ‘normal’, so those details didn’t surprised us.

One of the ‘group’ peeps I hung around a lot with was Elizabeth. She had a name for her white Volvo station wagon, which was a hand-me-down from mom and dad of course, and it was Betsy.

Elizabeth quickly became known as the ‘girl who just wanted to have fun’. This was when Cyndi Lauper’s first album was released with the hit Girls Just Want to Have Fun. That song, and its accompanying music video was the definition of Elizabeth. She was fun in the literal sense, just fun. Fun that would often involve her group of friends, and involve tons of laughter.

One of the days while we were at Elizabeth’s apartment, she asked if I wanted to go shopping with her on Melrose in Santa Monica. In those days, outside of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, Melrose Avenue was the street to spend money on expensive trend. Irene and I were even once in one of the stores while Boy George was shopping. Remember, it was the 80’s. So yes, I knew ‘shopping’ on Melrose with Elizabeth would an experience in itself.

North Beach Leather was at the time known for its’ extravagant, very colorful, and exclusive fine leather wear. One would NOT go into North Beach Leather with anything else mind but to know you were about to spend high dollar. Elizabeth was no exception.

Well, it didn’t take long for Elizabeth to find a trendy white leather jacket that she just had to have. Oh she already had several jackets at her apartment, and at her parents house in San Diego’s wealthy La Jolla area. But she wanted this one too. Why not? She was having fun shopping and to her, this was part of the fun experience.

When a sales associate approached her asking can I help you find anything?, Elizabeth simply replied with “I’ll take this one.” That was it and the sales associate walked the jacket to the cashiers’ area (or whatever it is called in trendy Santa Monica) and we followed. On the short walk over Elizabeth said to me with a big but somewhat guilty smile, “I didn’t even check the price.” Which honestly, didn’t bother her too much anyway since she always used dad’s credit card for everything.

The total, once rung-up, was something over $700.00. Elizabeth whipped her head in my direction with gigantic wide-eyes and a cheshire cats’ smile, and just laughed. She wore the jacket out of the store laughing and dancing singing ‘girls just want to have fun. Thanks dad, I hope that was ok!’

Man, I wonder what that jacket would cost today. Nonetheless, it was a lot of money! 🙂