Approaching the 20-year anniversary mark for her children’s wear label, Marie-Chantal Miller of Greece has a renewed focus on the U.S.
Last month the Marie-Chantal founder, who is the Crown Princess of Greece, opened a picturesque by-appointment showroom at 960 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Two years after returning to New York from London with her husband Pavlos Crown Prince of Greece and their five children, Miller is intent on reestablishing the brand. During a preview of the spring-summer assortment of Liberty prints, tweeds, ginghams and other designs, Miller spoke of building her label.
The nearly 1,300-square-foot space is designed to support the U.S. market and e-commerce business, which ships to more than 45 countries. After a five-year break from wholesaling to U.S. retailers, the collection will be sold to select stores this spring. She declined to comment on the company’s sales.
Marie-Chantal has a freestanding store on Motcomb Street in the U.K. The founder may explore the possibility of opening airport stores, but she declined to identify which countries may be considered. She is well versed in the area. (Her father Robert Warren Miller cofounded Duty Free Shops.) “It has to be done correctly. I want it to be successful. It’s looking at what type of offerings should we have,” she said. “Travel retail is very successful. It does well. There is always a need to purchase something, when you’re at airports. And they are like big luxury malls now, especially in the well-established airports.”
While running the company from London, the head office, production and creative development was based there. “I think it is so important to have a face behind a brand. I think the brand lost its awareness and it was really focused on being a British brand,” she said. “Then I closed down the U.S. wholesale about five years ago. When we moved back. I decided, ‘Look, I’m going to reestablish the brand and really focus on it. My kids are now bigger. I have more time to focus and to do it well. It’s just about the brand awareness, reviving it and retelling the story well.”
Hosting trunk shows is one reason online sales are “amazing,” Miller said. “I’ve been to Dallas. I’m going to L.A. It’s just really about trying to retell the story. I take the collection with me. I’m there. I talk about the narrative and how it all started.”
Miller has also written the book “Manners Begin at Breakfast: Modern Etiquette for Families,” which will be released next year with a foreword by Tory Burch. The Vendome Press book was illustrated by Lydia Starkey. Readers will find tips about technology, table manners and other matters. Miller said she approached manners “without pontificating what’s right or wrong. It’s just nice gentle stories and giving guidelines, because I have raised five kids. And I think they have turned out OK.”
Miller’s daughter, Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and Denmark, is a style-setter in her own right. But there is no maternal pressure for her to go into the business. Miller said, “She wants to find her career and I’m giving her lots of space to decide. If she eventually wants to come into this, then great. But she just graduated in May from NYU. She’s just taking some time off and then in January she is going to go to work.”
With nearly two decades of business experience, Miller spoke of how that resonates. “I’m older now so I can have a point of view and people listen, as opposed to when I was younger and starting out. It was harder for people to take me seriously. So it’s nice and the brand has some roots.” She said, “The landscape of retail has changed so much — department stores, how people shop and their appetites have changed so much. It’s so much more about telling a narrative that resonates with the younger generation. There still is a desire and a need for a collection that I call ‘classical with a twist.’ And something that has roots. People like that.”