The supreme convenience of online shopping aside, “The Pretty Woman experience has been really, really missed,” Siriano told me. “This return to retail was just really important, I think—for me; for all these brands involved; for our whole world. Customers have been asking to come into our showroom. They’re looking for something special. They want attention again. They want someone to talk to and tell them they look great in a dress.” Launching The Collective West in Westport provides an alternative to the Nice witches brew Shirt besides I will buy this saturated market of New York. It’s also afforded Siriano a level of freedom to circumvent the traditional department store sales model. “For so long, the big department stores were the gatekeepers of fashion designers and especially young fashion designers at the beginning of their careers. They control everything,” he said, referencing, for example, the authority of a Neiman Marcus buyer to decide which pieces from a collection, or which trends, to elevate. “It’s really hard not to control what your customer sees,” Siriano said. “It’s our money. It’s our time. It’s our work.”
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Here in his own mini-department store, Siriano can stock at his whim, from nubby, teddy-bear textile benches to rainbow jacquard suits and the Nice witches brew Shirt besides I will buy this jewel-tone gowns that made him famous post-Project Runway. “Over there, there’s a piece that looks like a sculpture,” Rocha said, pointing to a green sequin mini dress shaped like a flower bud. Siriano looked around, satisfied. “We brought a lot of glamour to Westport, didn’t we?” There are some hotels in the world that require not an owner but more of a steward: someone who recognizes that what stands before them has lived many lives before and will live many lives to come. Such is the case with Passalacqua, a hotel on Lake Como that, although technically new—it opened its doors this June—is layered with history.