After five-plus years working as a buyer for Los Angeles fashion retail maven Elyse Walker, and seven-plus years for New York’s Jeffrey Kalinsky, Philip Manghisi is striking out on his own with Wunderkind in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Slated to open in December, the 3,600-square-foot specialty store will stock designer ready-to-wear, contemporary collections, luxury shoes and handbags, fine jewelry, eyewear and home accents by Azzedine Alaïa, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Gabriela Hearst, Givenchy, Ganni, Nili Lotan, Raquel Allegra and Re/Done, among others.
“I was lucky enough to work for two of the most successful and brilliant specialty retailers, which makes you wonder if you can actually do it yourself,” said Manghisi. “I have always wanted to, but I didn’t want to open a store in a place that didn’t need it.”
Manghisi started traveling to Scottsdale annually to visit friends in 2014. When the local Barneys New York store closed in 2016, it got him thinking. Five years later, he thinks the market is ready for Wunderkind, which pays homage to a nickname given to him by Kalinsky when he started working for the Jeffrey stores at age 19.
“Uncomplicated luxury” will be Wunderkind’s point of view, Manghisi said, “From easy pieces for every day to a gown, I want to be a one-stop shop,” he added, guessing his clientele will be thirtysomething and up, and a mix of retirees and second home owners.
The retail center where the store is located on Scottsdale Road includes a hair salon and fine jewelry boutique. The location is adjacent to the Paradise Valley neighborhood, Arizona’s wealthiest municipality. Dior recently opened its first store in Arizona in Scottsdale Fashion Square, a complex that also has Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Bulgari stores, as well as a Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, but I’ve seen firsthand that people are still shopping,” he said of his experience during the pandemic at the Elyse Walker stores, which cater to California luxury shoppers in Pacific Palisades, Calabasas, Newport and the Napa Valley. “As more people get vaccinated we will see a return to specialty retail. People want to go out to stores and experience good service and see a point of view.”
Manghisi is looking forward to returning to New York Fashion Week in September, where he will be buying for the store and hopefully attending a few shows. “I’ve missed that energy of being around other people interested in fashion and touching it in real life,” he said. “There are a lot of exciting contemporary designers in New York and a lot of designers returning to New York.”