Lily's latest label
Lily Samii was happy just being a retailer, carrying such labels as Giorgio Armani, Escada and Louis Feraud at LYZ, the Marin County boutique she launched 25 years ago.
Then came grunge.
The street-influenced styles of grunge shown by many top designers weren't likely to play to Samii's more traditional customer. "When we went into the grunge period, my buying trips were disasters," Samii says. "I couldn't come up with anything. My budget to buy was untouched when I came back from the trips."
Samii had to improvise. Two years ago, preparing for a charity fashion show to be sponsored by her boutique in Larkspur, she decided to supplement what little she ordered from New York and Europe with a few styles she designed herself. To her surprise, her own pieces proved to be bestsellers.
Thus began Lily Samii, a line of better-priced, special-occasion apparel that she now sells in LYZ as well as to other specialty stores. Since launching the collection a year ago, Samii has rung up $1 million in orders from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and smaller specialty stores such as Marissa in Naples, Fla., and Mary Jane Benzer in White Plains, N.Y. About 60 percent of the sales at LYZ are generated from Lily Samii. Wholesale prices range from $250 for a silk blouse to $2,500 for a panné velvet gown. One of Samii's design inspirations is today's mother of the bride.
"I was looking at the mothers of the bride who would never be caught dead in chiffons and beaded stuff," Samii says. "They look like their daughters' sisters, not their mothers. They want to look smart."
Business has been so strong that Samii recently moved her design studios from her Magnolia Avenue store in Larkspur to San Francisco. The new studio, located on Second Street in the South of Market district, includes design, sample-making and some production facilities.
"I had no idea this would get so big so fast," Samii admits. "I'm really doing this as a challenge, and I like helping other retailers. I know how frustrated they have been the past few seasons."Show girl
"I love my job," says Alexis Eisner, the new fashion director of San Francisco's Fashion Center, who has made it her mission to turn the four-year-old center into the fashion mecca of the Bay Area. In her first two months on the job, during the fall II/holiday market, Eisner produced the best-attended and most-participated-in fashion shows in the history of the Fashion Center. She's currently organizing the "Bay of Designers" show--which will showcase Bay Area talent--for Holiday/Resort Market.
"This is the only show that will be open to the public," she explains, "and will show what San Francisco has to offer in terms of design talent, which is not limited to this building; from retail giants like The Gap and Esprit, to recent design-school graduates and up-and-coming fashion designers." Among the designers confirmed to appear are C.P. Shades, M.A.C., Think Tank and Margaret O'Leary.

Milano makeover
Hotel Milano, long popular with young retailers and filmmakers passing through San Francisco, just got a thorough facelift. After two years of remodeling, the eight-story, 1919 hotel, adjacent to the San Francisco Shopping Center and a few blocks from Union Square, is now a blend of neoclassical architecture and contemporary Italian interior design. In the lobby, contemporary paintings share space with a curving light oak staircase. The 108 rooms, double their former size, are now equipped with such amenities as CD players, VCRs and Nintendos. Next on the agenda is a video library--a collaboration with Virgin Megastore--so that guests will be able to check out CDs and videos. There is also a specialized production facility, a two-story fitness center and a popular restaurant, Bistro M, run by Citrus and Citronelle restaurateur Michel Richard.

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

To Read the Full Article

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus