Want to get a bit of Oh la la French style in Paris? We take a personal shopping experience in one of the most luxurious up-market stores in Paris. Reporter Lisa Buros-Hutchins tries on the best that Paris has to offer and discovers you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy this free service from Galeries Lafayette…
What could be more glamorous than booking an afternoon with a personal shopper in the City of Light? I admit I have often wondered how it all works; what is the process of reserving and working with a personal shopper? And I would be lying if I said it didn’t intimidate me a bit as well.
I have always been hesitant to work with a personal shopper because I do not necessarily consider myself a ‘qualified buyer’. Whilst I work in a luxury field, I tend to have a smaller budget than my clients. So when I called Galeries Lafayette to see about booking in with one of their personal shoppers I was ready with pen in hand to note all of the possible different fees, until they told me there wasn’t any for personal shopping assistance. Although if I wanted to book in with a private stylist professional I could certainly do so at a rate of €250.00 for a session.
However a personal shopping session at Galeries Lafayettes Paris is free and there is no minimum spend which I admit utterly shocked me.
The entire process of personal shopping at Galeries Lafayette is much more relaxed than I was expecting. Before meeting with my personal shopper Sophie we connected via email, as well as on the telephone, which was one very nice touch. Of course there are the obvious questions as to dress and shoe size, but there was also a nice exchange about my life and career, my style influences, how I view my current wardrobe and what kind of look I am trying to create through the shopping experience.
When I arrived the day of my rendezvous I checked in at the VIP kiosk and was warmly greeted before being ushered to one of the very private shopping suites to meet Sophie and get started. There were five ‘looks’ prepared for me in the suite, complete with shoes and accessories. When I walked in and saw all of the beautiful clothes I felt just like a celebrity.
I listened as Sophie explained the concept of each look: who the designer was and why this made the outfit special, the kind of fabric used, as well as explaining the cut of the fabric. Did I mention the shoes? The accessories? Listening intently I was transported to a petit wonderland of shopping!
Now, I have to be honest here, one of the first looks I tried on did not jump off the hanger at me. I sort of looked at it, looked at Sophie and she looked straight back at me and stated the dress would be amazing on me. So, off I went to the dressing room to try it on and, wait a sec, add a really chic overcoat by Alice et Olivia and a stylish little belt she pulled out of nowhere and all of the sudden – oh la la! I looked in the mirror and the outfit was stunning. Ok, point for Sophie.
We worked through the next couple of looks and the entire experience just kept getting better. When I felt like the look wasn’t quite right off we went into the store in search of the perfect accessory or handbag (which I loved). Of course it is excellent to get to try on amazing clothes, who wouldn’t love it? However, when you start to learn a bit about the designers and the incredible detail given to each garment you are trying on, the process of the personal shopper takes on a whole new level. The beauty is in the details and I could tell it was a pleasure for Sophie to share her knowledge with me.
I eventually settled on my one truly favorite and fabulous look, the one I had hoped I would find on this day. I ended up with an incredible dress by Alaia with an absolutely stunning little black leather coat. Sophie suggested a necklace by Dice Kayek to really make the outfit ‘pop’. And the shoes, let me tell you about the shoes! They make me smile from my toes, absolutely dainty stilettos by Sergio Rossi.
The afternoon I spent at Galeries Lafayette was revealing of how this store operates at its core concept: customer experience. Not once did I feel pressured to buy, nor did I feel I couldn’t express myself if I wasn’t quite ‘feeling’ the outfit. I certainly have a new respect for the art of what makes a terrific personal shopper: tremendous knowledge of the brand, understanding cut and how it will wear on all body types, patience with the client, and also reassurance because let me tell you as an American I do not enjoy going up in French sizes!
Et voila, I finally understand this whole personal shopping enigma in Paris and have the fabulous outfit to prove it!
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