Nanette Lepore’s Pop-Up: A Unique Fashion Experience – Forbes

Nanette Lepore has been a successful designer since the emergence of her brand in the early 1990’s.  She has seen the fashion business through many cycles, and this recent one is no exception.  With retailers competing with e-commerce, “experiences” are the new norm to attract customers, and Lepore has addressed this with a pop-up shop in her studio.

“My pop-up shop is a hidden gem on a roof top in the garment district. The building’s legend has it that the original owner used this little hideaway as a bachelor pad and party place, and with its fireplace and skyline views you could see why he was so fond of it. When I started my business in the early 90’s, the penthouse was my first design studio. It then became my daughter’s nursery and eventually our photo studio.  This past spring I had been searching Manhattan for a pop up shop, but everything was looking too commercial. Finally, it occurred to me that the penthouse was the perfect place. There’s an element of adventure and intimacy to coming to the penthouse that a street level just doesn’t have.”

“Since my design studio is in the same building, I can easily pop in and work with my clients,” Lepore continues. “I have met so many interesting women and gotten real insight into what pieces they respond to and what they need to fulfill their busy lives.”

This fall, to add to the experience, Lepore will introduce a few bespoke styles. Clients will have the ability to choose the fabric and length, and Lepore will be on hand with her expert eye to advise them. The service will be by appointment only.

The designer, who has dressed the young actresses Elena Kampouris and Abigail Breslin, as well as the more established performers Susan Sarandon and Bette Midler, is happiest when she is being creative.  Fall 2017 will be a romantic collection.

“Fall 2017 was inspired by visions of a festive weekend in a romantic manor surrounded by a lush landscape,” says Lepore.  “My fantasy weekend wardrobe consists of rich velvets in jewel tones, devoire printed silks, winter florals, softly colored lace, and sumptuous blouses with Victorian details paired with tuxedo-style trousers.”

Lepore found her passion early in life, making clothes for her Barbie dolls. At twelve, she took sewing classes, and with the help of supportive and nurturing parents, her business was born.

“I started my company as a small boutique in the East Village between a gas station and a soup kitchen,” says Lepore.  “My dad re-mortgaged his house and gave me the money to produce my first wholesale collection. Eventually we moved to 35th Street, in the heart of the Garment Center, because I wanted to be closer to our factories. It took ten years of hard work to pay my dad back and there were times when I truly thought I would never get out from under the debt. Once I started doing runway shows, my brand grew 20-30% annually.”

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