Following in stars' footsteps

Stylish mannequinLOS ANGELES – Its setting is legendary. The Hollywood sign is the hillside backdrop to a cityscape of endless freeways, countless palm trees and (during my visit) smog-free skies and snow-capped mountains.

Brad and Jen had just announced their split. While savoring a latte at Starbucks, I eavesdropped on nearby patrons. The local coffee-drinking chatter was as informative as the National Enquirer. But after thoroughly dissecting this high-profile marriage, they moved on to the real buzz . . . the Oscars.

My timing was not coincidental. I was in shopping mode – Academy Awards style (77th annual event is February 27).

The goal of my Los Angeles foray was simple: trek the shopping trails of A-listers. Armed with a star-studded itinerary, my mission was to visit stores celebs haunt, boutiques they own and resalers that feature their frocks.

My base of operations was the Millennium Biltmore, an old-style grand hotel with a lengthy history in television and movies (it’s featured in productions like Daredevil, West Wing, Independence Day and The American President).

But its Academy Awards ties were of primary interest. The Oscar statuette was designed (sketched on a linen napkin) during a banquet in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. And for many years the event’s ceremonies were hosted there (it’s where Shirley Temple received her child-sized Oscar in 1935).

Thus, in an Academy Awards frame of mind . . . I set out. First stop was to peruse discarded duds from the big screen and smaller screen (television). It’s a Wrap (3315 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank) displays Rocky’s boxers and Pamela Anderson’s Baywatch swimsuit. They’re not for sale. But a three-piece sequin gown ensemble from soap opera Guiding Light was available for $285 (all figures U.S.). A production code on price tags indicates where it was worn (i.e. Frasier, Charmed, etc.).

Vintage fashion specialist Doris Raymond owns The Way We Wore (334 S. La Brea). She travels the world unearthing garments for her store and works with stars’ stylists. Finds range from Chanel jackets (starting at $895) to a multi-tiered Dior cocktail dress ($20,000). Cheaper treasures are $65 brooches.

Celebrity collectibles can be found at Star Wares (5341 Derry Ave., Agoura Hills; by appointment, 818-707-8500). If items from Cher, Carmen Electra or Farrah Fawcett’s closet are appealing, go. They’re consignors.

When I learned Dari (12184 Ventura Blvd., Studio City) is a favorite of King of Queens star Leah Rimini, I visited. It has a fun Middle Eastern feel, complete with flowing velvet curtains. But it was a $280 pair of red glittery Marc Jacobs flats (reminiscent of “The Wizard of Oz”) that caught my eye.

Actors Lisa Rinna and husband Harry Hamlin own Belle Gray (13812 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks). It’s named after their two daughters. A favorite item is their comfy sweat pants with ‘Belle Gray’ imprinted on the behind ($48). They carry Baby Belle Gray too.

Kaviar and Kind (8533 W. Sunset Blvd.) is by appointment only (310-659-8857). But it’s worth the effort to see the store’s one-of-a-kind jewelry. Co-proprietors Katherine Azarmi (jewelry designer) and Sunrise Ruffalo (wife of actor Mark Ruffalo) rotate the work of 30 designers. My favorite Oscar-like selection: Azarmi’s shooting star necklace ($695).

For the star experience, stop at Fred Segal (8118 Melrose, West Hollywood; 500 Broadway, Santa Monica). Catering to celebs, it features VIP dressing rooms – merchandise is delivered to them, though Cameron Diaz has been spotted flipping through the racks herself. Their 14-karat gold ‘princess’ necklace was $275 and a men’s hooded cashmere sweater sported a price tag of $485.

Paparazzi were lingering when I popped into Kitson (115 S. Robertson). Desperate Housewives sexy star Eva Longoria was there (checking out shoes). It’s a frequent haunt of Drew Barrymore and Britney Spears and sells $500 Pucci shoes. But for the budget-minded, there’s a fun canvas tote emblazed with “My Gucci’s taking a vacation” ($38).

Photographers shooting through store window