“Shirin has nice friends, doesn’t she?” a distinguished blonde said, looking around Kiton’s New York store on 54th Street in Manhattan as a group of ladies sat down for lunch. The Shirin in question was Shirin von Wulffen, who invited a group of Upper East Side acquaintances including Jamie Tisch, Jennifer Creel, Lisa Evans and Ingrid Edelman to dine on the second floor of the flagship. “It’s like a crown jewel,” said von Wulffen of the space. “And in Midtown.”
The reason for the gathering was to toast Kiton’s latest women’s collection, a year-old offshoot of the Italian men’s wear label. “We had a lot of [female] clients who wanted to pick out men’s fabrics to make their own pieces,” said Maria Giovanna Paone, creative director of the women’s division and daughter of the company’s founder, noting that made-to-order makes up 30 to 40 percent of the business. “It was a need in the market, I think because people are tired of having the pieces that everybody has, and something that is only a brand name. You don’t need a brand name if you have your own personality.”
The women’s line aims to tap into this desire for quality. “We produce ever piece by hand,” Paone continued. “People love to wear nice fabrics, which today is very difficult to find.”
As guests tucked into a meal that included fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and wine flown in from Naples, where Kiton is headquartered, Paone raised a glass. “If anyone is coming to Napoli or Capri, we would be very happy to glad to have you there,” she said.