Fashion Concierge

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Words by Divia Harilela & Blue Carreon 
Art Direction Tony Law Photography Ching

 

There was a time when offering shoppers a glass of champagne was enough to make them feel special. Or adding a client’s monogramme on a bag was already going the distance towards making them feel that they are buying something exclusive. But with the influx of new high net worth consumers from Russia and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, luxury brands have had to be creative in marketing and selling to this new level of super-wealthy. Montblanc has hosted small parties for their high net worth customers in their stores with concerts by its brand ambassador, the pianist Lang Lang. Chanel VIPs and couture clients are given guided tours of Coco’s apartment above the store on Rue Cambon. Savile Row tailors offer workroom tours to their clients. Kilgour even flies its tailors all over the world for fittings with their elite customers. Early this year, it was reported that designers Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta hosted cocktail parties and private fashion shows to a group of über wealthy Chinese shoppers visiting New York. Luxury brands recognize the buying power of high net worth Chinese, which is why they have made it imperative that there be Mandarin speakers in their stores located in tourism capitals like New York, London, Paris, Madrid and even Dubai.

The rising number of the super-rich elite also sees
an increased demand for bespoke fashion services.

In Hong Kong, the Peninsula Hotel organizes exclusive shopping tours for their mainland Chinese guests, which includes use of the hotel’s Rolls Royce cars and shutting down an entire store especially for their guests’ shopping enjoyment. They’ve also introduced the Lifestyle Academy, a finishing school of sorts for Words Divia Harilelahttp://www.the-dvine.com/  Blue Carreon Art Direction Tony Law Photography Ching millionaires to help them improve their style and to learn more about the luxury lifestyle. Concierge services and styling firms that are committed to meeting the demands and whims of the super-rich have also sprouted. One such company is the newly formed Hong Kong-based Superficial, which its founders Sam Roseman and Nick Troedson describe as catering “to savvy shoppers who are not just looking for an exclusive shopping experience, but who are in search of unrivaled access to luxury and exclusive brands with an accent on personalized styling from top to toe”. Superficial clients are picked up from their hotels, driven to flagship stores and whisked away to private rooms for a day of shopping and styling services. Special dinners can also be arranged at the stores followed by mini-fashion shows. Highlife Asia is another concierge that offers the same kind of luxury VIP shopping experience. They take it a step further by arranging private jets or first-class tickets to take their clients to shopping destinations like New York, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai. But if you want to know where the real fashion insiders go, then you need to enlist the talents of a tried and tested professional like Laila Easum http://laila-easum.blogspot.hk/.

“My clients want to get their fashion as soon
as possible, way before the stores.”

The stylish Parisian has been dressing Asian and Middle Eastern royalty for over 15 years, but has been in the industry since the 1980s. Born and raised in Paris, she went to fashion school where she interned at Christian Dior, learning everything from sketching and fabrics, to how to sell. Although she dreamed of working in the theater, she was hired by Yves Saint Laurent himself in 1987 to oversee his fashion shows abroad. Soon she became a seconde vendeuse at Saint Laurent’s haute couture salon, liaising with rich women looking to buy custom made pieces.

Marielle Byworth bespoke bangle
Gold plated sterling silver,
purple enamel and black diamonds

After five years, she was approached by Olivier Lapidus, son of famous French designer Ted Lapidus, who wanted to create a haute couture salon catering to the young generation. They launched the business from scratch and Easum stayed on until 1998 when she relocated to Tokyo with her husband (she is now based between Tokyo and Paris). Looking for something that afforded her more flexibility, she began to develop her own personal styling business at the request of her longtime clients. “It all came naturally. I started by complementing the dresses. My clients would request shoes and handbags that matched so I would find the material and enlist an atelier in Paris to manufacture the shoes individually. Eventually my clients became more demanding — it wasn’t just accessories and clothes anymore, they wanted everything from luggage to wedding trousseaus,” she says.
Drawing from her old contacts as well as the Internet, Easum started to develop a strong network of fashion elite, ranging from young brands to haute couture ateliers in Paris. Since many of her clients are royalty ranging from women in their 20s to 50s, they demand exclusivity. As a result, she boasts direct connections to Zac Posen, Peter Copping at Nina Ricci, Reem Acra and Vera Wang. “My clients want to gettheir fashion as soon as possible, way before the stores. Often I order my pieces immediately after the shows through the designers themselves. Usually it’s a mix of ready-to wear and couture depending on their needs.” She also boasts unlimited access to Christian Louboutin’s private atelier in Paris. “It reminds me of a scene from Pinocchio in Geppetto’s workshop. They can make anything they want or they can choose a pair from a current collection and customize it. One of my clients loved [this season’s] plastic and neon shoe so she had it made with a leather heel,” she says. While most of her clients are fond of luxury brands, she is constantly on the look out for new, edgy designers. Top of her list at the moment are Sofia 203 for handmade accessories, jewellery from AS29 and Marielle Byworth http://http://www.marijoli.com/bespoke/
 , and Perrin Paris for bags. For now her services are exclusive to women although she does rule out menswear altogether. “If my client likes a certain menswear designer, I will approach them for her and create something special. Why not?” she says.