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."
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)