THE CONTEMPORARY CLUB
ONLY A HANDFUL OF DESIGNERS ARE REPPED BY THE DISCERNING LAURIE HASSON, A NEW MART REP WHO IS AS FINICKY AS SHE IS FASHIONABLE.
Byline: Katherine Bowers / With contributions from Genny Chang
It’s a funny time to be expanding,” admitted showroom owner Laurie Hasson, who is unveiling a new space on the New Mart’s 7th floor this market. “But I’m excited in the core of me. No fear. My business is up 25 percent. It feels right.”
The 2,000-square-foot eponymous showroom formerly leased by Rampage is 60 percent larger than Hasson’s old space down the hall. On the custom-made modernist walnut desk marking the entrance, a concept board is prominently displayed. Hasson plans to refresh it each season with images, swatches and editorial clippings from the seven better contemporary designers she represents.
Part of Hasson’s credibility with designers and specialty retailers is she won’t take on a line she doesn’t absolutely adore.
As a result, she’s had continuity in a notoriously fickle business. Hasson has carried tailored ready-to-wear designer Jenne Maag for nine years, Palm Springs-inspired print queen Trina Turk for six years and whimsical designer Nanette Lepore for eight years. Former Poleci designer Tom K. Nguyen signed on with Hasson to launch his collection last fall.
Tops collection Cynthia Steffe bowed in her showroom six months ago, and Hasson also reps T. Aura, a T-shirt collection, and John Carlisle’s novelty leather and suedes.
Even though denim has been hotter than a tanning-bed session, Hasson has stayed away from the true blue look.
“I’ve looked at the lines, but it just doesn’t speak to me. I’m a fancy girl,” teased Hasson, twirling in a Trina Turk lace skirt with an enormous pink peony pinned to her hip.
And her regular buyers love her for it. “I don’t have to worry about her lines just being a fad. Great quality,” said Gabrielle Zuccaro, owner of Los Angeles specialty boutique, Bleu.
Turk, who has been with Hasson since day one, said Hasson is “great with the fussy detail stuff,” including pesky single-piece reorders.
While the new space can hold another line, Hasson said she’d only take on a designer with a distinct identity who is also serious about developing a business.
She noted her relationship with Turk, Lepore and Maag. “All four of us are strong, ambitious businesswomen who want to grow our companies.”
The new showroom has been a personal design project Hasson has relished. She lacquered the floor a rich, milk chocolate color; splashed yellow paint on a single wall; and brought in walnut and glass tables modeled after a Gio Ponti design.
Otherwise, the showroom is kept relatively neutral — using California sun and pristine white walls to let the collections shine.