ALTUZARRA IN CHICAGO: Joseph Altuzarra’s clients surrounded him at a cocktail fete last week to celebrate his new shop-in-shop at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
“How’s this?” one woman asked, showing off an embellished blazer from the designer’s fall collection. Altuzarra gave his approval and selfie shots ensued.
“It’s always very humbling when people come to see your clothes and even more so when they decide to spend money on it,” said Altuzarra, taking a break from the hosting and socializing fanfare, in a dressing room off the boutique. “It makes me very happy to meet people who enjoy my work.”
The 250-square-foot shop, located next to The Row’s in-store boutique and on the same floor as Brunello Cucinelli, Givenchy and Céline, was even designed by the designer — including a printed rug, two statement chairs and a glass block wall, reminiscent of his home growing up in Paris.
Perhaps part of the appeal of Altuzarra, whose fans include a roster of names from Carine Roitfeld to Michelle Obama, is that he’s let his clothes tell the story.
“The really nice thing about the celebrities that we work with is a lot of them came to us because they were clients first,” he said. “Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Evan Rachel Wood, they went in a store, they bought a piece for themselves and they really liked it and that sort of grew into an organic relationship between them and I that’s very special.”
As Altuzarra celebrates his 10-year-anniversary this year, he reflected on how the industry has changed from a decade ago.
“The role of a designer has completely changed in large part because of social media,” he said. “Designers are really marketers in that we are also kind of public figures as well and that we’re expected to be.”
The relationship to clothing has also changed.
“It’s kind of fueled people’s love for clothing because they want to be photographed in it and they want to post it and it adds kind of to their social media life,” Altuzarra noted. “The flip side I think is clothing is a little more disposable. People are a little less interested in how things are made and what it looks like on the inside. It’s a little hard sometimes. People feel like they can get the look for less. It’s like — it looks the same on Instagram, so it doesn’t matter. It’s pushed me as a designer to really make clothes that feel unique and feel really emotional and feel like they’re hard to replicate by someone else. That is very challenging, but it’s very fun.”
About 75 guests attended the event, and the top-seller of the evening was a mixed-media jacquard jacket with leather patches and fur trim, retailing for $2,995.