The building, which includes another 2,100 square feet of warehouse space, housed Foothill Mattress — a second-hand mattress shop — for more than 40 years, said Jennie Stirwalt, whose family has owned the property since the early 1960s.
"I was actually really sorry to see Foothill Mattress go, they were there so long," Stirwalt said. "They were kind of a fixture up there, but things got to change."
After a five-month renovation of the building, much has changed about the property.
Foothill Mattress' old, gnarled carpet has been replaced with new laminate wood floors, and its previously exposed cement walls are now concealed by custom oak cabinetry. The new cabinets frame Armani suits, women's designer tops and Italian hand bags.
A glimpse at the building's new stone façade, added by the Bekarians, is enough to convince some local business leaders that Gianni Couture represents an upgrade to the commercial area.
"It adds class," said Dale Dawson, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn.
The entrance to the shopping park, which stretches along three blocks of Honolulu Avenue between Verdugo Boulevard and Sunset Avenue, is kitty-corner to the boutique.
"It certainly is a couple of notches above its predecessor in terms of ambience and appearance," Dawson said. "It's obviously more of a draw than the second-hand mattress shop."
Though the cosmetic upgrades to the building are intended to create an elegant, upscale feeling for customers — similar to high-end boutiques in premier shopping districts around Los Angeles — Gianni Couture has managed to avoid Rodeo Drive prices, Gary Bekarian said.
"The rent is cheaper here, so we don't have to charge as much for the products," he said.
Monthly rent at the store is about $4,900, he said.
Men's suits at the store range from about $500 to $2,000 and women's tops can go for $100 to $400. A pair of men's jeans are listed at $150.
Though they may be able to charge less than stores in more renowned areas, the Bekarians know their prices are not cheap, Ani Bekarian said.
But with Ani Bekarian's strict three-of-an-item policy — she stocks only three of each clothing item, one in each size — customers will at least know they're investing in exclusive threads.
"It is my policy," she said. "When the woman is going to spend a lot of money, they don't want other women having the same clothes."