You no longer need to be a billionaire or celebrity to shop like one, reports Christina Binkley in The Wall Street Journal (4/10/14). That’s the concept behind Suite 1521, which is "built on the way designers sold clothes decades ago: personally, with the designer, by appointment only." This does mean you have to wait "for a designer to come to town, make an appointment, show up on time, then wait weeks for an order to arrive." And it does, of course, help to be fabulously wealthy (this kind of service doesn’t come cheap).
Suite 1521 was founded last September "in a third-floor gallery space at 76th Street and Madison Avenue" by Kim Kassel and Lizzie Tisch, wife of Jonathan Tisch, "chief executive of Lowes Hotels and a member of a wealthy New York family." For customers like Caryn Becker, who otherwise "tends to shop online on Net-a-Porter and Barneys," Suite 1521 enables a "return to what she refers to as ‘physical shopping’." For designers, it’s a chance to "have more of a connection with consumers."
"It’s a nicer way of building up your customer relationships," says designer Antonio Berardi. Another designer, Lion Blau, "says the access to clients helps the design process." "In the studio, we always work with model sizes," he says. "Here I can see if something is too big or too small." It’s more likely the latter, as "the fashions on display are mostly tiny sample sizes." To shop at Suite 1521 requires an annual membership fee of $500, "and with designer-level fashions, outfits easily cost several thousand dollars."