Monday, October 17, 2016

Indian Summer calls

Full Hunter's Moon. Sunday, 9:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, October 17, 2016. Indian Summer calls. After a couple of weeks of autumnal temperatures in the mid- to low 60s, yesterday afternoon Mother Nature jacked the temps up into the low 70s moving us from sweater to tee-shirt times though perhaps briefly. The forecasts for the next several days will take us into the 80s. Yesterday was a beautiful day, sunny or overcast.

Catching up with the deluge. This is the season of wall-to-wall social events, galas, cocktail parties and charity fund-raising in New York, not to mention the private parties filling up the calendars.

Last week I had lunch at Michael’s with Alexandra Lind Rose and Trisha Gregory of Armarium, a fashion business which they launched here in New York last April -- and which is the first and only one of its kind to offer luxury, avant garde ready-to-wear and accessories ON LOAN. In other words, a path to the high fashion luxury experience without the high price tag.
DPC with Armarium's Alex Rose and Trisha Gregory.
Alexandra, or Alex as she is known to her friends, is a fashion designer and style entrepreneur who has worked in the industry for more than twenty years. Trisha oversaw public relations at Salvatore Ferragamo (North America) for nearly a decade. For a long time the two friends have talked about how difficult it is to find “statement pieces” from the runways to wear to events or even dinner with friends. From those lingering discussions Armarium was born.

Although they were advertising on the NYSD, frankly I knew nothing about their business even under those circumstances. That’s another department that JH and Gail Karr handle.

Alexandra Lebenthal in her outfit from Armarium.
However, one night I ran into another Alexandra -- Alexandra Lebenthal at an event, looking very stylish, and after taking her photo, I told her how great she looked. This Alex also loves fashion and often puts her best foot forward. But in thanking me for the compliment, she told me that this particular outfit came from Armarium.

Knowing that she is a frequent fashion customer, I was curious as to why she went to Armarium.

"I have to admit I periodically look at the app to see if there's anything new to ogle over,” she told me -- adding that she already has her eye on a gown for the New York Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderland Ball. “Not only do Alexandra (Rose) and Trisha have an impeccable eye, but they have created a high end experience, from their stylists to customer service, to delivery and even pick up."

I know a little something (not a lot) about the women’s fashion business because many moons ago before DPC became a professional writer, I had a fashion (discount) retail business in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. I came into it serendipitously although I’d never given it a thought, much less had I considered why a woman chooses what she chooses to wear. But I soon was learning How and Why she makes those choices. Unlike most men, women are much more conscious of their fashion choices for a variety of reasons having to do with an effort to look good to others, and to please themselves.
Alex Merrell wearing Monique Lhuillier.
Peter Pilotto ...
... and Roberto Cavalli, all available through Armarium.
I also learned from my business that there are a lot of women who DO NOT possess that consciousness, and many who even feel cowed by the process. However, ultimately everyone, given the opportunity and the self-confidence, wants to look good to not only their own eyes, but to others.

Talking with Alex and Trisha at lunch, I was curious as to how their new business worked. A man, for example, has no problem renting a tux, including the whole outfit, but otherwise the idea of renting a garment – a suit, a pair of pants, a shirt, a tie, shoes, socks – sounds ridiculous (and remains such).
Armarium on the runway: Salvatore Ferragamo, Naaem Kahn, and Marchesa.
When it comes to women’s wear, Alex Rose pointed out, clothes and other items for special occasions – be they business or social events -- pose many problems to solve -- including accessories, the best colors for the occasion, and not least, the “cost.”

Purchasing a dress or gown for a major event can be costly especially considering the number of times the garment will be worn thereafter. Here in New York, if a woman is active on the charity circuit she may attend at least a half dozen or more events in a season. She doesn’t want to wear the same thing each time, obviously. So, to “rent” an ensemble for an evening, or a special dinner or reception for a price that amounts to 10% to 20% percent of the cost of an item -- especially one that is new that season --  is a godsend.
Armarium winter looks (l. to r.) from Marchesa, Emanuel Ungaro, and Esteban Cortazar.
Armarium is much much more than a rental agency for fashion, however. With partnerships (including a special partnership with Net A Porter) with more than thirty prominent fashion stylists who work on runway shows as well as fashion shoots and red carpet events, Armarium provides not only access to the runways’ most rarefied and coveted pieces, but they also offer consultation with one of their stylists to assist with their choices. Gone is the hassle of dry cleaning, storage or they age old question when they look in their closets: “When will I ever wear this again?”

The Ideal Armarium Timeline:
Day 1. The client receives her order by 8 P.M.
Day 2.  Any alterations necessary are made. Shop for accessories.
Day 3. Wear garment to the event.
Day 4. Return garment in original packaging by 12 noon.
Armarium’s collection is constantly updated to keep the assortment current. Many famous sought-after brands including, Emilio Pucci, Etro, Ferragamo, Haider Ackermann, Jimmy Choo, Marchesa, Naeem Khan, Roberto Cavalli, Vera Wang have partnered with Armarium to offer runway collec- tions on loan.

The program includes not only the ability to borrow pieces from our expertly curated lineup of couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories, but also, the option of hiring one of a number of professional stylists to assist with day-of dressing needs. Dubbed the “Style Brigade,” some of the talent on Armarium’s retainer includes: Meredith Melling, Valerie Boster, Siobhan Bonnouvrier, Karla Martinez de Salas and Shiona Turini.
More winter looks from (l. to r.) Vera Wang, Nina Ricci, and Luisa Beccaria.
Once a garment and/or accessories are chosen, they arrive on day one of your reservation. You keep them for two days after that, and return them on the fourth day with a prepaid shipping label.

So, from that one-of-a-kind minaudière to that ruffled, show-stopping evening gown, Armarium has you covered—for when the only thing you need to own is the spotlight.  A woman traveling from another city or country to attend an event or dinner or party, can save herself the trouble of organizing a wardrobe to apply. Through Armarium, she can plan in advance what she will need and wear, and find it ready for her on arrival.

I was curious as to how they came upon their name: Armarium. It’s Latin, Alexandra informed me. The word Armoire is derived from it. I looked it up to find there are synonyms that clarify its modern use, such as closet, or cupboard, or storage space, or place for safe keeping for those valuable items (such as the security of being self-assured and looking good).

To learn more about the digital age’s Armarium, visit the web site:

Contact DPC here.