Tag Archives: Carolina Herrera

The Women Behind the GOP Candidates and the Fashion Brands that Should Love Them

Of all the angles reporters have taken to discuss the GOP candidates for the nomination for the 2012 presidential election, I am unaware of one that has yet to speak from the viewpoint of the leading fashion designers that stand to gain the most from the triumph of a specific candidate. You may question why anyone should care what the fashion industry thinks of the candidates, but given the incredible power and influence the current First Lady has proven to have in putting emerging designers like Jason Wu on the map (he’s penning  a ‘thank you’ letter to Michelle O. for his upcoming Target collaboration as I write this) and driving sales at popular retailers like J.Crew, the style profile of the most visible American female can have a very significant financial impact.  So, looking at the top GOP candidates thus far in the race to the primaries, let’s see which designers might be lobbying for their chance in the social and economic spotlight as the First Lady’s fashion guru:

1. Carolina Herrera -> Anita Perry

Anita and Rick Perry, 2011

Carolina Herrera, the reining queen of sophisticated and refined day and evening wear for the wealthy, ladies-who-lunch crowd, is a perfect match for Anita.  A former nurse, with an M.S. from the University of Texas, Anita is currently a full time supporter of her wealthy husband’s bid for the Republican nomination.  Between the weekly church services, supporter rallies and fundraising dinners, Anita will have ample opportunities to impress at a black tie affair in this frock from Herrera:

Carolina Herrera Fall Winter 2011

2. Oscar de la Renta -> Ann Romney

Mitt and Ann Romney, 2011

Like Perry, Mitt Romney has a boatload of moolah and his wife, a Harvard graduate, has quite refined, classic and expensive taste.  As the housewife of an experienced and successful businessman, Ann understands her role as a hostess and social connector quite well and has no problem buying the right clothes to project the correct image: conservative, classy and eternally chic.  Who better to go to than Oscar de la Renta.  Popular with the Park Avenue crowd, de la Renta is beloved for his sleeveless day dresses, lavish coats and fitted skirt suits.  Ann would make a statement in this gorgeous eggplant color sheath dress, accessorized with an amazing gemstone brooch:

Oscar de la Renta Fall Winter 2011

3. Chicos -> Carol Paul

Ron and Carol Paul

Chico’s,  a retailer catering to the everyday woman featuring a full line of private label apparel, accessories, and jewelry, with a focus on comfort, is a perfect fit for Carol, the seventy-something wife of Ron Paul.  Anne has avoided the campaign trail thus far stating that without her presence, “the house would fall apart”.  Unlike the previous two ladies, Carol is very relatable both in appearance and in her simple, yet attainable style which screams, average America.  For the same reason, White House, Black Market might want to join Chico’s in a 2-for-1 fashion fundraiser:

A look from Chico’s Fall 2011

A versatile day to evening dress by White House Black Market, Fall 2011

4. Ann Taylor -> Gloria Cain

Herman and Gloria Cain

The sixty-five year old housewife is known in inner circles to be incredibly supportive of her husband, an involved mother and also quite shy, so don’t expect her to be out front during the campaign season.  Given the little we have seen of Gloria, she appears to be a woman who prefers conservative, classic and tailored clothing with a pop of color or fashionable point of interest.  Ann Taylor, a clothing retailer catering to women ages 35-60, delivers sophisticated and high quality clothing with an affinity for tailored, conservative styling. Ding! That’s a match. Also, given the company’s choice of brand ambassadors over the past two years (among them Heidi Klum, Naomi Watts and Katie Holmes) as well as the current face, Demi Moore, the brand appears to be seeking to increase its style quotient and fashion following. Dressing the First Lady would be the ultimate ticket to exposure. Imagine the chic statement Gloria could make in one of these two looks from Ann Taylor’s Fall/Winter 2011 collection:


So, do you think we hit the nail on the head? Are there other designers who you think would be a better fit for these potential First Ladies? If so, post your comment so we can start a dialogue.  Up next is the most likely Democratic candidates for the nomination and the brands that are hot on their tales.

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An Exclusive Preview from NYFW: Color Your Closet for Spring/Summer 2012

As always, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week NYC went by in a blur. From early morning shows (only Tory Burch holding her first ever runway show could rouse the elite fashion group to be at Alice Tully Hall at 9am), to afternoon presentations and dinners lasting late into the evening, fashion is the breath of the city for an entire week.  After all, this one week helps set the fashion agenda for Spring Summer 2012.  Designers reveal their inspirations to editors, buyers, boggers and stylists alike, all of which work together to help determine what trends will go from the runway, into the stores, and ultimately into all of our closets.  Although there were many trends that seemed to capture many designers, we are focusing on color today and boy was there a lot of it on the runway.  Unless you lived under a rock, orange dominated the color palette this summer and its dominion will continue another season.  However, its reign may be challenged by acid yellow, the new bright “it” color favored by many designer shows we attended including Carolina Herrera, Christian Siriano, BCBG and Nanette Lepore.

Nanette Lepore brings the Rubik cube to life

Christian Siriano mixes dramatic with a simple, silk striped t-shirt

Katherine Hepburn inspired paper bag- waisted pants were a big hit at Siriano

Even the “ladies who lunch” get in on the trend at Carolina Herrera

so good, but even better walking away:

BCBG colorblocks brights with nuetrals

If you find yourself intimidated by the extreme saturation and all over color, don’t fret.  You can still form part of the color trend by selecting accessories to offset a basic outfit.  Here is the inspiration to get you started:

Although we don’t recommend matching shoes, belts and handbags all to the same color or fabric, the above option does show you numerous ways to brighten up a subtle dress to make the maximum on-trend statement.

Met Gala 2011: The Beautiful, The Awful and All the Nudes

So last night was the Met Gala honoring the recently departed fashion designer Alexander McQueen.  Although Sarah Burton was on hand (McQueen’s successor and Kate Middleton’s wedding gown designer),  she was only one of many to jump on the nude dress bandwagon.  Some starlets really shined and sparkled, some just made me want to vomit, but they all confirmed that nude is THE spring dress color.  Take a look:

THE BREATHTAKING:

Ashley Greene in Donna Karan, growing into her own.

Blake Lively in Chanel, gorgeous Grecian!

Claire Danes in Calvin Klein, looking phenomenal.

Gwenyth Paltrow in Stella McCartney. Hate her, the bitch has everything.

Kate Hudson in Stella McCartney. The soon to be Mrs. Bellamy rocks the bump.

Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera. One day she will get her hair on the same level as her dress… this was not it. But the dress is divine.

Salma Hayek in Alexander McQueen. Wait, doesn’t she like own Alexander McQueen brand?

Sarah Jessica Parker in Alexander McQueen. Damn, she is perfect.

Jessica Alba in Ralph Lauren makes maternity marvelous!

Naomi Watts in Stella McCartney. A personal best for her!

Hailee Steinfeld in Stella McCartney continues her reign as the next new “It” fashion girl in this asymmetrical gown.

Maggie Q in Tadashi Shoji. Simple, elegant, beautiful.

THE TRULY HORRIFIC:

Naomi Campbell in I hate to say it, Alexander McQueen. I have no idea what this was supposed to be, but I hate it.

Miranda Kerr in Marchesa. This isn’t ballet darling and next time, get a nanny so you have some time to actually read the invite before dressing.

Fergie in Marchesa. In a dismal night for Mrs. Harvey Weinstein (co-designer of Marchesa), Fergie is now a schman in a bad wedding gown from the 1980’s. Tied for worst of the night.  How is she married to Josh?!

Livia Firth in Stella McCartney.  This silk pantsuit with detachable skirt just looks sloppy. And no, my opinion has nothing to do with the fact that I am irrevocably in love with her husband Colin, who is perfect, as usual, in Tom Ford. Oh, and she could use more luminous makeup and softer hair.

Mary J Blige look all crammed into this over-styled, embellished Gucci gown.  She looks like she is ready to burst! The hair is way too matronly and brassy. Total fail.

And, what pains me the most of all is that the feted, Sarah Burton, may have been the biggest let down of the night. Not sure if she is trying to wear every rejected bridal gown she whipped up for Catherine Middleton, but this dress just doesn’t do Sarah any favors:

Photos courtesy of Getty Images, Wire Image, CelebrityPhotos, Bauer-Griffin, Film Magic, Startracks

British Royal Fashion Trends

Oh Britain, I beg you. Enough with the minute details of the royal wedding. I am on 100% overload of Wills and Katie and their big day on April 29, 2011.  I get it, us Americans don’t have a royal family (no, the Bush/Trump/Obama/who is left of the Kennedy clans don’t count) and given our obsession with Princess Diana, we can’t get enough of the Cinderella dream-come-true fairytale of her  eldest son, the handsome prince, marrying  his college love, who also happens to be a “commoner”. (Anyone else sort of annoyed that Kate is representative of a “commoner” in Britain?  She sort of puts our Kate (Gosselin) commoner to shame, no?)).

After walking through London’s Hyde Park last week, it was very clear that the wedding preparations were well under way (every taxi driver talked about the event as if it were his own daughter’s big day).  Something else that I noticed, albeit less important on the international agenda,  was two definite fashion trends directly inspired from the royal staff.

1. Over-the-Knee Boots

Over-the-knee boots are not a new trend, they have been keeping leggings company for at least two seasons now.  However, they were once again on the runway for Fall/Winter 2011, so if you don’t own a pair, now is a great time to snatch up a pair at at least 50% off as retailers must move inventory to make room for summer apparel.  Wondering what style to buy?  Heal, or flat, patent or calf leather?  Bright color, white or staple black?  Take a cue from the British royal security team and select a classic, high-shine black leather, flat boot:

Honestly, if it weren’t for the freakishly serious face (not even Robert Goulet could beat him in a staring contest, I would have flirted my way to date with this guy just to steal his footwear. Heck, it might just be easier (and less obnoxious) if I just buy my own. Want yours?  You can search hundreds of options  at ShopStyle , like this  Zanotti style available at Bergdoff Goodman for 60% off retail!

#2: Royal Details:

Although traditionally used as amour to protect warriors in hand-to-hand combat, the gauntlet has gone full fashion for Fall/Winter 2011. Seen above, Carolina Herrera embraced the gauntlet style glove, a great accessory to be worn over a slim fit cashmere sweater, or with a 3/4 sleeve jacket:

Wondering where the inspiration for the gauntlet glove came from? Take a look at the side of the same over the knee boots shown above:

This is more like direct translation than inspiration.  Moral of the story: embrace British fashion. It is only going to grow in relevance once  Miss Kate Middelton (eventually to become Duchess of Cambridge after she is wed)  steals the title of  Most Important British Fashion Influencer right out of Ms. Moss’ hands.

Flower Power: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Spring’s Biggest Fashion Trend

I don’t know about you, but after months of battling cold harsh Winter winds, it seems as if Spring might be inching a bit closer and you know what that means… no more ugly Uggs!  Instead, we get vampire-esque pale skin poking out of Spring’s fashions.  Although there were many wonderful trends sent down the runways for Spring Summer 2011 (click here to read our runway report), no trend turned out to be more pervasive than flowers.  Although it seems an obvious inspiration for a Spring collection (so goes the popular saying, “April showers bring May flowers”), designers brought us the good, the bad and the simply ugly!  I have been asked many times how to wear florals the right way and I will make it very easy for you- its all about your body type.  If you happen to be petite (stop reading now because I hate you with a fierceness only envy can cause), you are lucky because any size/type of flower print can work for you.  However, if you are like me and have a larger frame, be careful not to go too big/obvious, or risk looking like Blanche from Golden Girls hanging out in Boca Raton, Florida.  Not sure what I mean?  Let Stella McCartney explain:

Oy.  So, yes Stella chose to include leaves and oranges/grapefruits in her prints  and I seriously think this might be the most unattractive outfit I have seen in a while.  This is such a literal print, it is almost as if she took a picture of my parents garden in Florida and screened it onto the cotton canvas fabric.  Also, the silhouette is not helping at all. The square cut of the top with the slim pencil skirt would compliment not a single body type (sorry Gwen Paltrow, not even you. And we all know how much you love to support your girl Stella). Let’s have another example. As much as it pains me to call out Raf at Jil Sander (I adore him),  no one is spared when teaching a lesson:

Saraliously?!  Here the print is not an issue, in fact is is a gorgeous smorgasbord of strong vibrant colors. However, the silhouette of this voluminous dress is great for the editorial world, but lousy for the real world.  With this much fabric, you could eat not only a big lunch and still have room to breathe, but probably enough left over to reupholster that chair in your sunroom you’ve been wondering what to do with for a couple of years now.

Moving onward. Even high end, refined and classic designers can make a mistake by taking a much too literal take on florals. This was the case with Carolina Herrera:

No, no, no, no Carolina.  The styling of this look is off. To begin with, the Korean straw hat (typically worn by men) and oblong bow with the stencil like botanical flower has me totally confused as to where I am suppose to wear this outfit (to a chic luncheon, on a weekend to the farmers market, in the Hamptons?)Plus, the placement on the flower on the right hip/front is so obvious I cannot take my eye off it and frankly, I don’t relish the idea of people staring at my crotch area while I walk (in this skirt, there is no where else for the eye to go).  But, have no fear, Carolina can do floras the right way, especially when she sticks to her core skill set:

Yes please! This is how to do a singular flower the right way. The placement of the flower tucked into the folded fabric is absolutely gorgeous and it enhances the bodice of this column gown.  The color palette chosen is quite complimentary to women of all skin tones, so Carolina gets an A+ on this dress for understanding that fashion is a business and if women won’t buy your dress, game over.

Talk about running out to buy! Here are a few more fabulous examples for inspiration to pull you out of the winter doldrums:

Erdem lace over applique lace makes these red flowers pop.  The Nicholas Kirkwood shoes are the perfect compliment.

Peter Som is a master at combining prints and textures and the takeaway here is prints can be worn together when the color story is the same.  Can we also talk about the fact that ghost designing Tommy Hilfiger’s collection is bleeding over into Peter’s own line?  Not a good idea as the key to longevity of a brand is its ability be distinguished amongst every other collection on the market.

In all honestly, I am not a D&G lover, but the use of complimentary florals in this short one-piece and jacket is so lighthearted and young, I can’t not smile at it.  Plus the platform wedge is spot on for Spring, especially in the bright red hue.  Now, how anyone without stick legs gets away with this outfit without a Saraliously comment hurled at them is another story all together.

Now, to the important part.  Most of us don’t have the budget for a new designer Spring wardrobe, but fear not, Target is  celebrating the fifth anniversary of its Go International designer collaboration program by bringing back 34 dresses from 17 of its favorite past designers. Lo and behold, there are tons of florals!

Tucker for Target Button-Front Dress in Floral Print $34.99

The black ground of this dress with the concentrated vibrant red and orange flowers will make this dress really stand out!  If you want a brighter, warmer effect, Tucker also has this great, 3/4 sleeve boho style dress:

Tucker for Target Signature Dress in Floral Print $39.99

Or, if you are one of the millions that admire First Lady Michelle Obama’s style, you can get a gorgeous floral frock from her go to designer, Thakoon (powerful husband who rules the free world sold separately, natch.):

Thakoon for Target Gathered Dress in Cyber Floral $39.99

Looking for something more ladylike for a romantic dinner out?  Tracey Feith is a wonderful print designer and this dress is soft and whimsical, so please be wiser than Target’s merchandising team who idiotically chose clunky and ugly black heels.

So my friends, there you are.  Cough up $40.00 and one of these dresses can be yours on  March 13, when the collective launches in stores and online.

Photos courtesy of Style.com and Target

The Best of Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week F/W 2011 (Part 1)

Hello my little fashion darlings!

As I write this post, I am just on my way to recuperating from what has been a full on sprint to the fashion finish line of the designers collections for this upcoming Fall.  Let me just say that of the 12 shows I attended, there were extremely high moments (Maison Martin Margiela for Opening Ceremony), low points (Tory Burch’s wide leg pants are the single most unflattering garment I have ever seen, and this is on rail thin models), common points (70’s still reins supreme) and just a bit of insanity (note to designers: models have a hard time walking on 7in platforms when there dress is fitted to the ankles. Wake up and restore the sanity! I was determined to fit in Jon Stewart somewhere).  So, as usual, I have put together some of the highlights from my favorite shows to show you the trends you need to pay attention when Fall shopping seasons begins!

Menswear: Oh if only Aerosmith had reversed its lyrics from “Dude (Looks like a Lady),” how appropriate it would have been for Fall/Winter 2011 collections.  For years- decades even- androgyny has walked its way down the runways by the likes of Akris, Jil Sander and at times, even Prada.  However, fashion strives for nothing if not reinvention, so how did designers go about making Menswear tailored pieces new again?  Tommy Hilfiger (always one of the best shows as his passion for rock and roll always lends itself to the best soundtrack), produced pieces that were literally menswear. Save some darting and nipped in waists, I felt like I was watching the cast of Boardwalk Empire stomp down the 90 foot long runway.  Check:

I mean, come on. Could that not be Steve Buscemi in that last look? Tommy is the best at American preppy and I love that this season he went back in fashion history to make things new again (a definite feel of the 1970’s in both color palette and silhouette). For us girls who may not be blessed with statuesque 6’0 frames and long skinny legs (so few of us, I know), there is going to have to be significant adaptations to make this look actually wearable.  Somhow the full suit, vest, tie and white shirt is a bit much for any city that isn’t NYC.

Donna Karan can sometimes go off the beaten path with her DKNY collection which was inspired in the urban New York City woman (I ambulated about taking the credit for this one for quite a while), and let me say that I loved EVERY SINGLE look from this show.  As my seat didn’t provide for the best viewing, I only got a straight on look of every piece for about a nano second, but even in that minute time frame, it was obvious that Donna hit the nail squarely on the head by delivering wearable menswear inspired, chic and even luxurious looks for the younger, hip woman, without the literal over-handedness of Tommy.

Photos courtesy of Style.com

Let me just say that people LOVED this show. You could feel it in the stomp of the models, the murmuring of editors to one another and the unusual, yet refreshing interest/approval by fashion’s newest darling Emmanuelle Alt, French Vogue’s new editrix.  Not only do I love her because she seems younger than she is (recently turned 41), approachable and cool, but she comes from a styling background having been responsible for creating the image of both Balmain and Isabel Marant (can you get any cooler or chicer than that?).  Long story short- Donna zeroed in on her like Jessica Simpson to ill fitting garments after the show.  I didn’t listen to the conversation (I did photograph it as seen below), but Donna hasn’t gotten to where she is but not being smart and strategic, so something good passed between these heavy hitters:

Finally, if you are a girl who loves Menswear but doesn’t want to look like she shopped in her boyfriend, husband or lover’s closet (don’t want to leave any kind of sentimental relationship out….), you are going to love Carolina Herrera’s proposal for September.

What can I say, Carolina is the queen of sophistication, in the same way Oscar de la Renta is the king of class.  In fact, I wouldn’t mind moving into a kingdom where they reined, then again it would just look like a fusion of Renee Zellweger and Sarah Jessica Parker’s closets.  Yet I digress.  Carolina gave us tailored business suits with quite masculine and unexpected accessories, like these gauntlet gloves:

I absolutely adore the caplet collar and strong, don’t-mess-with-me-or-I-will-finish-you-superhero look of this outfit. Plus, girls with short hair usually get the shaft when it comes to necklines. Not the case here.

She can also do color in a fantastic way to make even this conservative and straight-forward look seem indulgent and appropriate for a woman still starting her career and not accompanying her billionaire husband to a power function:

Photos courtesy of Style.com

Oh the power of color! Here is the final walk from the show and excuse the poor quality- Blackberry isn’t the Cannon G12:

I actually find it humorous that Ms. Herrera never actually wears color herself, just black pants with a black or white blouse as evidenced once again during her bow:

I heart her. However, even better than the collection is the fact that Herrera opens backstage after the show to all the journalists or friends whom want to speak with her.  This is very rare; generally there is a who’s who list with big surly men blocking the entry of those poor souls who either don’t have a short enough skirt on,  star in a TV show, or at least have notoriously slept with someone who does.  Backstage is so great because you see the innards of the industry, the thousands of people who make a runway show happen- the stylists, hair and makeup,  the AV team, the prep team who unpack, steam and repack the clothing immediately after the show, the PR people running around in nothing less than unadulterated panic (this really is the most fun to observe). More importantly, you get a candid moment with the models that so many of us admire.  Here is a great one with the wonderful Karlie Kloss, recently anointed American’s newest supermodel (Tyra, learn what this title means, I BEG you):

All in all, let just say that I adored seeing the menswear (and a bit of British tendencies) in all of these shows.  How will this trend translate to the collections in the department stores in your neighborhood? Look for wide leg, structured trousers, fitted vests and tailored blouses.  Go for leather and or suede accents- its finishes the look in a strong and decisive manner.  It tells people that your styling was a deliberate choice and not simply that you were too lazy to do laundry and therefore ended up wearing what was clean in your husbands closet.  Now in closing, I would like to nominate the following individual for the most needing to adopt this tailored, menswear trend:

Oy. Words fail me.  Stay tuned for part 2 of my “The Best of Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week F/W 2011”.

 

Retailing in Mexico: The Best (and Worst) of Breed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have older siblings, you remember the envy caused by watching your older brother or sister get the newest jeans for back to school and the new car when he or she starts driving. You also knew fully well these new things would become yours as part of the inevitable hand-me-down process.  If you are anything like me, you wanted to yell at your parents, “Hello!  Why can’t I have a new shirt? Don’t I have the same value and have individual needs? Why do I always have to be a second thought to my older sibling?”

Well, guess what- Mexico feels the same way. As our neighbor to the South, Mexico has a front row seat to the happenings of the USA.  It witnessed the great economic growth and prosperity of the 1990’s, it wept with us when our country was attacked by terrorists in 2001, and it is definitely watching every business decision currently being made that will directly affect its own economic, social and political prosperity for decades to come. Although much discussion can be had to the international relations between the U.S. and Mexico, I would like to focus specifically on the trade and commerce of the fashion industry.  In this arena, make no mistake about it, Mexico has traditionally been seen as an afterthought, as the younger brother that will take whatever hand-me-down consumer goods its older brother, the U.S, no longer wants or has use for.

However, as Mexico’s middle class grows, so does it purchasing power and demand for new, additional and better options.  The onslaught of social media has allowed anyone with Internet access the ability to watch fashion shows in real time and know within nanoseconds, what celebrities and fashionistas around the globe are wearing. This increase in awareness/demand and purchasing power, in addition to the oversaturation of domestic markets has lead fashion brands and retailers to look at Mexico as an emerging market with the offer for growth and a new revenue stream.  However, even with these positive market factors, Mexico still seems unable to get the retailing game right.    During a recent visit to the city to attend the Top Glamour 2010 Awards, hosted by Glamour Mexico, Olay and Pantene, I did some market research to see which retailers are on target to move into leadership positions and which ones are as lost as a fashion intern on her first day.

First, I went to the most sophisticated, advanced marketplace I could find, the newly opened Saks Fifth Avenue in the ritzy neighborhood of Polanco.  After only three minutes in the store, it was beyond obvious that the buyers have absolutely no idea of the first rule of retailing; know your customer and his expectations.  First, the size assortment for most collections on the floor ranged from 0-4.  If Mexico is the second most obese country after the U.S, how many sizes 0, 2 and 4’s are really out there? Second, Saks Mexico doesn’t understand how to merchandise a store.  When setting up a floor, merchants need to group designers together who have a common customer, which is reflected in a similar price point and either similar or complementary styling characteristics. A customer should walk into contemporary and be able to flow through the collections knowing that her needs and expectations will be met.  This is not happening in Saks. In my visit, I found Vanessa Bruno, Vivienne Westwood and Tibi hanging next to one another.  There is a gap about the size of the Grand Canyon in the price points and styling characteristic of these three brands.   The Saks Mexico shopping experience is more like walking through the chaotic brain of Tim Burton than a well planned, studied marketplace catering to the upscale (wealthy) customer. It is no wonder that Sak’s isn’t moving merchandise, but if I know Carlos Slim, he has most of the goods on consignment or at the very least, has negotiated very high RTV’s (Return to Vendor).

However, the Mexican landscape isn’t totally doomed. El Palacio del Hierro, Mexico’s retail pride and joy, and Saks primary competition has really blossomed under the intelligent and experienced leadership of its Marketing Director, Carlos Salcido. He has taken what was a regional department store in a third world country, and turned it into one of the biggest conversations after a recent article in WWD.  The evidence of his extensive knowledge of retailing and ability to stay on the pulse of the industry is evident in many ways.  The first is the understanding of competition and the need to be agile in adapting strategy in order to capture the consumer.  When Saks entered the Mexican market, it was with the promise to bring exclusive designer brands that otherwise couldn’t be found.  Palacio did its homework and secured designer brands in order to compete. But it didn’t just go get any designer brand.  Rather, the retailer did research to determine the brands its customers really wanted (turns out Michael Kors and Stella McCartney have followings down South). In addition to adding new designers to its merchandise mix, Palacio bought deeper into its best selling brands, namely Burberry and Carolina Herrera.  Finally, each collection is well assorted to accommodate a variety of sizes. I had no problem finding a US size 8 in every garment I tried on.

Second, the floorsets make sense!  Contemporary brands such as BCBG, Ralph Lauren, Adolfo Dominguez, and Tommy Hilfiger hang together in what is a very cohesive and logical group.  The price points are similar and the branding characteristics are complementary enough to keep the customer interested and in the area long enough to encourage a sale.

Finally, the service is flawless.  Store employees are friendly but not solicitous, knowledgeable about its product offer and are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure you are happy.  You get the feeling the employees aren’t just punching a clock and waiting for their commission check, but rather they feel ownership in the company and therefore want to be the best representative possible.   Palacio  is a very positive shopping experience, I got what I wanted and smiled the entire way through.

The Takeway: Although a successful retail business depends on the cooperative performance of many factors- first and foremost is the golden rule of retailing- know your customer and his expectations.  The second rule is to follow the process to ensuring you meet the expectations. This includes buying the right product at the right time and at the right price, excellent merchandising skills, and superior customer service. If I were a betting girl, I would put my money on Palacio’s stock at least for the foreseeable future until Saks understands that a celebrated name and pretty clothes alone do not a successful retail business make.