DALLAS -- Seeking to build on its booming in-house custom design business, Lilly Dodson here opened a Fe Zandi boutique last fall that will sell only made-to-measure looks.
Zandi, an Iranian who is based in Los Angeles, designs luncheon and social occasion silhouettes priced from $1,800 to $9,000.
At Lilly Dodson, a high-end women's store in Highland Park Village, Zandi's collection, typically 65 pieces, hangs as samples from which customers make selections. In addition to making adjustments like split-sizing, raising a hemline or adding beads to a bodice, Zandi also designs one-of-a-kind garments for customers.
First-year sales at the 500-square-foot boutique are expected to hit $1 million, according to owner Bill Dodson.
"There's a void bigger than a football field for custom apparel in the U.S.," said Dodson. "This customer typically goes to Paris for the couture collections. She's willing to pay for the look, the fit and the service. We're bringing it to her at a lower price."
Last January, Lilly Dodson opened a custom studio manned by local designer Michael Faircloth, where sales are projected up 20 percent over 1993's $500,000. The store currently counts about 125 women as custom clients, a figure that is expected to grow.
Dodson has aggressive plans for the Zandi business, which he'll take on the road to select cities starting in February. The first stop is Mexico City, where a two-day show will be staged in the home of a wealthy Mexican socialite. Similar events will likely follow in Houston and Palm Beach, Fla., among others.
Embroidery by Lesage and fabrics and findings from across Europe accent Zandi's styles, which generally are updated classics. For spring, Zandi will show a panoply of pastels rendered on four-ply silk and cotton and embellished with straw passementerie, among other looks.
Bestsellers from the fall collection included the black silk lace illusion-hem dress, $4,400; the black wool brocade suit with gold Lesage embroidery, $4,300; the loden silk suit with gold Lesage embroidery, $7,900, and the black silk velvet dress with gold Lesage embroidery, $4,600.
Zandi, who started her career designing for the Iranian royal family, fled Iran in 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah and started her custom business.The designs also are available at Neiman Marcus, which said it has been successful with the looks.
Zandi expects volume this year, excluding sales at Dodson, to hit $2 million at retail, even to last year. Sales climbed to a high of $5 million in 1991, when Zandi also operated a boutique on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. The store, which opened in 1986, subsequently closed in 1991 after Zandi and her husband divorced and separately moved back to Iran for a short time. They have since remarried. Tentative plans call for the reopening of a namesake boutique there in the near future.
Kamran Behbahani, Zandi's husband and business director, said the company also is exploring the possibility of producing a ready-to-wear collection, which would mimic Zandi's custom collection but use less pricy fabrics and trims. It would be priced from $1,200 to $3,500, according to Zandi.
Dodson is so bullish on the custom concept that he thinks the Zandi business could eventually only be eclipsed by Escada sales.
"Escada is the best designer apparel in the world, but it's ready-to-wear," Dodson ex-plained. "With Zandi, we're talking about couture in the purest sense of the word. And the demand is definitely there."
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye