ATLANTA — As the newly appointed director of designer merchandise at Nordstrom, Jeffrey Kalinsky brought star power to the hometown audience at Fashion Cares, the annual fashion show benefit held Monday night at the Woodruff Arts Center here.
In a deal, finalized last week, Nordstrom bought a majority interest in Jeffrey's stores in New York and Atlanta for up to $50 million, and Kalinsky became a member of Nordstrom's senior merchandising team. While the deal wasn't officially mentioned at the event, it was the talk of the evening, which drew 600 guests.
"Good for Jeffrey and good for Nordstrom," was the common sentiment.
Fashion Cares began 13 years ago as an in-store shoe event at Bob Ellis Shoes, which Kalinsky owns, and has evolved into Atlanta's official fall season kickoff for the fashion world. At up to $500 a ticket, the event draws an eclectic crowd, from young hipsters to old-money Atlanta, dressed in everything from jeans to evening gowns. Cosponsored by Carter Barnes Hair Artisans, the evening included a silent auction, a live auction and the runway show finale of fall fashion, all from Jeffrey.
Compared with last year's exuberant event, where runway revelers cheered with the gusto of college football fans, this year's crowd was more subdued. The mood matched the more subtle elegance of the show, which included prim Forties-inspired velvet suits, drop-dead gorgeous gowns in rich colors from Balenciaga and Christian Dior and an array of boots and shoes, always a Jeffrey specialty.
Kalinsky, who grew up in Charleston, S.C., got his retail start in Atlanta 14 years ago when he opened Jeffrey; Bob Ellis, a designer shoe store, and a Jil Sander shop in Phipp's Plaza. He also owns Jeffrey New York on West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District.
Kalinsky said he'll continue to run his stores with no major changes. August sales, boosted by lines such as Gucci, Marni and Jil Sander, are up 30 percent over last year, he said. Asked if Nordstrom's clout may lead to Jeffrey's expansion, he answered: "Not tonight."
His role as a consultant for Nordstrom, which plans to grow its designer business, is evolving."Jeffrey has such an eye, and assortment," said Gregg Andrews, fashion creative director for Nordstrom. "It's an amazing partnership, but we plan to keep Nordstrom Nordstrom and Jeffrey Jeffrey."
The event raised nearly $300,000 for various AIDS and breast cancer charities, compared with $250,000 last year. Gucci, Jil Sander and Manolo Blahnik each donated $10,000, while Dolce & Gabbana and Pucci contributed $5,000 each.
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