NEW YORK — Miguelina, a 900-square-foot boutique opening Wednesday at 347 Bleecker Street, is a showcase for the designs of Miguelina Gambaccini.
While hardly a household name, the self-taught Gambaccini has developed a cult following for her white linen dresses, gauze tunics and camisoles in a resort palette of coral, turquoise, yellow and white. Gambaccini, who supplements her collection with sandals, jewelry, handbags and luggage from around the world — everything a chic girl needs for a long weekend in Capri — expects the store to do $1.4 million in its first year.
After working in London's film industry in the mid-Eighties, Gambaccini in 1988 moved to New York to become a merchandiser for Emanuel Ungaro's showroom and Madison Avenue store. After two years, she left Ungaro to work for an AIDS research foundation, then spent "a few years living on a boat." When she returned to dry land, Gambaccini began designing the kind of resort staples she grew up wearing in her native Dominican Republic. Her breakout piece, a tunic, was made from cheesecloth dyed in her kitchen sink.
In what could only be described as luck or karma, a photographer friend who was traveling to London offered to show the tunic to an editor at British Vogue. The magazine published the tunic, which Gambaccini was making in 12 different colors by then, and orders came from Calypso and Fred Segal.
Gambaccini found a manufacturer in India for the tunics, which retail for $185, and switched to silk, making baby-doll dresses; long halter dresses, for $645, and lace-trimmed camisoles, $128, in those Caribbean colors.
Gambaccini's next project was her 1998 wedding in Rayong, Thailand. When her fiancé warned her "not to bring a lot of stuff on our honeymoon," Gambaccini, decided to make 10 dresses that could be washed easily because she would be away for three weeks. When she returned from her honeymoon, a buyer saw the white-washed linen clothes and asked what they were. "I said, jokingly, ‘It's my honeymoon line,'" Giambaccini said of the designs, which include a halter dress with crochet detail, at $325; shorts, and embroidered tops. "They think I have a honeymoon line," she recalled telling her husband, who had the name registered. Several dozen items — all of them white — carry the Miguelina Honeymoon Line label.Tara Matthews swimsuits cobranded with Miguelina will be in the store in time for summer. The suits, which are made in Brazil, feature embroidery using gold and silver thread and semiprecious stones. "They're not for swimming," said Gambaccini, who plans to offer a different cobranded item every three months. "I have so many creative friends," she said.
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