Bijan Pakzad, the famed fashion designer to heads of state, business moguls and movie stars, died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 71 years old.
Pakzad opened his exclusive fashion boutique, , on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in 1976 when the only other businesses on the street were a gas station and a few clothing stores.
"He worked very hard for this city," Manijeh Messa, who had worked with Pakzad for 44 years, said Monday at Bijan. "He loved Beverly Hills."
Flowers and cards had been arriving at the store all day, along with emails from loyal Bijan customers and friends such as former President George W. Bush and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"The whole world is going to miss him," Messa said, wiping away tears. "We are all trying to understand what happened, but we are in a state of shock."
Pakzad suffered a stroke Thursday evening and died at 8:05 a.m. Saturday with his family—including daughters Daniela and Alexandra, and son Nicolas—by his side. His friend of 36 years, Vincenzo Brandonisio, was with Pakzad on Thursday before he fell ill.
"I was with him one hour before and he was as energetic as usual," Brandonisio said. "But when it is time to go, it is time to go. We all miss him already."
Pakzad influenced the fashion industry by dressing some of the most powerful men in the world—one appointment at a time. Since the day his store opened, Bijan has welcomed shoppers into its luxurious showroom by appointment only.
"Back then only doctors and lawyers went by appointment. But to make an appointment to shop, that was different," Messa said. "He designed the most beautiful clothing for our clients."
Some of the many rich and famous men on Bijan’s client list include U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, business mogul Donald Trump, fellow fashion designers Giorgio Armani and Oscar de la Renta, and actors Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and Tom Cruise.
"I was here from day one and he was the most inventive and the most creative man I have ever met," Brandonisio said of Pakzad.
In 1987 Pakzad launched his first fragrance, Bijan Classic, which led to a cologne created for former NBA superstar Michael Jordan and the development of other successful fragrances. Most recently, Pakzad joined with Rolls-Royce and Bugatti to make their luxury automobiles even more luxurious.
"He loved cars and he loved luxury," Messa said. "Everything had to be perfect and beautiful."
In the Middle East, and particularly in his homeland of Iran, Pakzad was widely admired as one of the greatest Persian-American success stories.
"The Persian community is devastated," Messa said. "He was a leader to, and the pride of, Persians around the world."
A private funeral service is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, while a public memorial will be held Saturday, April 30 at a location to be determined.
"People from all over the world want to come, so we are trying to find a place that can accommodate all the people who wish to pay their respects," Messa said.