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Wednesday, Oct 4 2006
"I just want to be the first one to go in. I want to touch everything, feel everything!" Mina Agtarap is first in line for the opening day of Juicy Couture's flagship store in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, and she's entirely serious.

The mall's expansion is "transforming the mid-Market corridor," Mayor Gavin Newsom has said — the implication being that rather than crackheads and skateboarders, the site of the old Emporium will again be filled with elegant ladies and men in bowler hats. Indeed, a juggler with a top hat and a fine lady on stilts already hover in the entrance near Juicy.

Marketed as a young person's Burberry, St. John for kids under 25, Juicy is this generation's garish attempt to live like the debutante class. Which apparently means plastering our butts with pink rhinestones reading "JUICY." Maybe it's like those charity drives rich people put on: Our answer to colon cancer luncheons is personal billboards reviling anal chafing.

The three women in line outside the store have alternative theories. "Juicy means beautiful, luxury, anything girly-girl," says Agtarap as her friend nods.

"Tasty," offers 70-year-old Sheila Carmassi, shopping for her 14-year-old granddaughter.

While they wait, the mall is going mad. Every two minutes, a new store lifts its gate somewhere in the complex, and shrieks echo through the eight-story courtyard. Across the way, Adidas' elevated shop window features two scantily clad young men attempting to simultaneously straddle Pilates balls and strike sexy poses. They'd pull it off, too, if the giant Andre Agassi cutout on the wall didn't keep rolling down and bopping one of them on the head. Blame it on the vibrations from Bloomingdales' drum circle or its free umbrella stampede.

At 10:05 the Juicy shoppers perk up for a pink bow-cutting ceremony. Cameras flash, and then it's into the teddy bear's lair. Hmm ... moon boots with decal, $175. Velour toddler pullover, $84. Matching doggie accessories available online. Agtarap hovers near the jewelry case, clutching what appears to be a golden bracelet with life-size Chihuahua charms. The store fills up quickly.

"That Juicy is here, that they've put their first prominent street front in San Francisco, means we're becoming a world fashion capital," says arts student Mario McIntosh. "With the Fashion Institute just down the street, this will be great for young designers."

Maybe he's right: Maybe there is a purpose to all the glitz. "When you serve a turkey to the king," McIntosh says, "it's not just regular turkey, it's a juicy turkey." Or maybe that's just the basting.

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