There were so many dramatic sleeves and ruffles in the private dining room of the San Vicente Bungalows in Los Angeles on Thursday night that the women wearing them had to artfully dodge one another when it came time to hug hello.
The occasion was Moda Operandi’s new holiday capsule collection with Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz, known for her dramatically fenimine silhouettes — floral prints, blooming shoulders, fluted skirts, flounces — but also marked the e-commerce company’s first significant event since opening its L.A. office earlier this year.
Lauren Santo Domingo, Moda’s cofounder and chief brand officer, said L.A. is the company’s second best market after New York, and after looking at the data the company culls from transactions, she found it’s the number-one market for Ortiz’s collections.
“Our customer is very feminine,” Santo Domingo said. “She loves color, runway dresses, and she likes full looks.”
While talking about the Moda customer and her affinity for Ortiz, Kate Hudson came up with a friend to enlist Santo Domingo’s help getting out of the patio area where the event was cordoned off. Security wasn’t letting them escape the small crowd for a quick smoke.
“Will you make sure to let them know they can do whatever they want,” Santo Domingo said to a staffer. “No rules!” Other guests at the dinner included actors Sofia Vergara (who actually went to school with Ortiz in Colombia for a time), Alice Eve and Molly Sims, along with stylist and fashion entrepreneur Rachel Zoe, Bumble executive Erin Foster and socialite Nikki Hilton and other high-end Angelenos, like Shari Glazer, Erica Reid and Sydney Holland.
Back to business. Santo Domingo said working with Ortiz since launching the designer on Moda about five years ago has been sort of a “test case” for the business and how it uses data to inform the designers it works with on what shoppers are interested in and then actually purchasing.
“We get immediate customer feedback right after the shows, so we’re producing smarter with less waste, less markdowns, so we’ve been really growing our businesses together in a data-driven, meaningful way.”
As for Ortiz, who described herself during dinner as “naturally very shy” and said even quasi-public social outings like this is one of the ”worst” parts of her job, she similarly said Moda has helped her business grow. She employs 350 women in Colombia now and feels like she’s been able to bring a bit of her country to the fashion industry.
“This is only my third time in L.A.,” Ortiz said, “but I hope to be seeing a lot more of you all.”