Tuesday, July 01, 2014

In the Market: Diana Broussard

"Locked" Up

Diana Broussard

I remember meeting Diana Broussard for the first time. It was the FIT Couture Council Summer Party (August 17, 2011) at the Boathouse in Central Park. She stood out in a room filled with well-dressed guests because she was the only one wearing a simple off white sleeveless sheath screen printed with a giant black mosquito. It was not only unique and witty, but quite apropos, since the indoor/outdoor party (held on the water on a muggy summer night), was buzzing with pesky mosquitos; by the time I got home, I was covered with mosquito bites.

Peter Hidalgo mosquito dress at Diana Broussard

I inquired about the design and she told me the dress, ($600, by Peter Hidalgo), was an exclusive for her eponymous boutique, Diana Broussard, 22 Christopher Street, 646 336 6365, (www.dianabroussard.com). I subsequently mentioned it in my blog, “Don’t Bug Me”, which was all about insect themed fashions. But it was not until about one month ago, that I actually visited her wonderful store.


Diana Broussard Lochetta of Love 

Right before Memorial Day weekend, Erica M. Blumenthal featured two of Diana’s signature Lochetta of Love Plexiglas and resin chain and lock necklaces, $375, in her column, “Browsing”, which ran in the Thursday Styles section of The New York Times on May 21, 2014. Inspired by the love locks that couples fasten to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, upon which they throw their keys into the Seine (as a romantic gesture to seal their love), they immediately ‘spoke’ to me as they are right up my alley: statement making, bold, tailored, sporty, and distinctive without being fussy or precious (no bling!). They have that streetwise ‘punk’ thing going on, and while I would not label them as unisex (I don’t think my husband and I will be sharing them any time soon LOL), they do have that masculine/feminine, boy/girl element; and I deem them to be instant classics. I decided I had to check them out in person. Oh, the power of the press!

FYI, coincidentally, at the beginning of June, it had been reported that police were forced to remove visitors from the famous Parisian footbridge after 2.4 metres of railing collapsed under the weight of the heavy locks. http://www.usatoday.com/story. Thankfully, Diana’s versions, as light as could be, are guaranteed not to weigh anything down. In addition, the interchangeable locks actually work, and show up on her necklaces, bracelets, and leather high tops.

Diana Broussard Boutique
Diana Broussard’s shop is an approximately 900 square foot gem perfectly situated on a chic, quiet street in the West Village, far from the maddening crowd (my personal favorite part of Manhattan), and it has a very distinctive personality and flavor, not to mention a unique, individual point of view. Its Diana’s sophisticated point of view to be sure, and it speaks to her informed, finely honed aesthetic.

She certainly has quite the impressive resume. She served as design director of collection accessories at Calvin Klein, moved to Paris where she worked at Christian Dior as director of footwear and leather-goods preparing the pret a porter shoe collection under John Galliano, then relocated to London and Florence where she joined Gucci, designing men’s and women’s shoes. She started her own line (under her name), geared for the “chic urban woman with a modern, understated sense of style”, and in 2007, she opened the Diana Broussard boutique (Sonia Fernandez is the Boutique Manager and Stylist, and Hitomi Hirose works in Sales and Design).

Diana Broussard Stelle orange velvet smoking slipper with Nate chain

Her design collections, which make use of the finest materials and celebrate the art of fine craftsmanship, encompass shoes (including chic flat pointy toed ‘smoking slippers’ in leather and velvet, and sporty lace up leather high tops, $277 - $395), and jewelry (necklaces, chokers, rings, bracelets, cuffs, earrings). In the case of the latter, her calling cards are her use inventive use of Plexiglas, resin, and metal. Her hands down best seller is the $275 Nate chain (and for good reason), and each season, she adds new finishes and colors to this, and to her equally popular Nathan chain ($250), and Lochetta of Love bracelet and necklaces (priced from $230 to $475). Whenever I wear the pieces I already own, I am always complimented, and I feel as though I am destined to be a collector. I have to admit that for fall, I am especially obsessed with the newly introduced camel color (nothing could be chicer than camel and black, and I surmised it would be perfect worn over a black turtleneck and under a camel hair ‘boy’ coat).


Diana Broussard Lochetta Love Long Necklace
 in black with gold chips

Other favorites: the Anelli chain necklace in matte gold or matte palladium, $510; the Logo Chain Choker ($295); the Nathan and JoJo Alphabet Necklaces (which feature gold- plated brass calligraphy gemstones with the lettering cast from 18th century French letterpress molds, $500 each); the sexy minimalist Angela necklace made of gold- plated brass, $350; the Venus in Pearl choker, $295 (which I recently featured in a blog about minimalist pearl necklaces); and the statement making wide Chuck cuffs in silver and gold metal, $350 (I love the textural braided chain effect).

Inside Diana Broussard boutique with artwork
by Kevin Fey on the wall

Diana explained that the inspiration for her store was drawn from a Milanese palazzo, “a mix of old and modern and furniture not crowding the main room; big important art on the walls”. The price range is $95 - $1200 for accessories and jewelry; $750 - $13,000 for art. 85% of the merchandise is comprised of her own label. She admitted that she “loves carrying Peter Hidalgo’s minimalist dresses as they are modern and look great on everyone…most importantly, they give my necklaces a place to ‘live’ and enable women to more quickly visualize themselves wearing one”.

Sonia Fernandez and Hitomi Hirose with Steve Pyke's photographs
 behind them

As for her design ‘heroes’: Geoffrey Beene, YSL, Claire McCardell, Roger Vivier (“in his formative years”), and Bernard Rudofsky (the late architect, curator, critic, exhibition designer, and fashion designer who wrote “The Unfashionable Body” and “Are Clothes Modern? An Essay on Contemporary Apparel”). She herself wears “a mix of Peter Hidalgo, Jil Sander Navy, Carolina Herrera (for blouses and tops to mix with Theory pant suits), a bit of Carven (recently), Sandro for camisoles, and Sportmax for a quick work dress”. As she explained it, “I need clean uniforms - nothing too frilly”. She does not shop online because she needs to “feel the fabrics and see the quality” and she frequents the New York flea market (“not for just one thing but for something for the house, like modernist porcelain”).

When I inquired if she was working on anything interesting for the future, she said: “Bags are arriving SOON to the store in July, and the secret, my first perfume!!” (Well, it’s not a ‘secret’ anymore and it will be called Diana Broussard). She is recently back from Paris, where she put the finishing touches on the packaging with La Maison Detaille with whom she is working on this collaboration. “It will be released hopefully for Paris fashion week. One Parfum and one soap to start...a dream!” (I was told the scent was “unisex”).

Does she have a favorite accessory in her store? ” I love them all or they can’t live in the store.” Why did she select the West Village as a location? “By chance I was walking by, saw the empty space, and just decided to take it.  It is also walking distance to my home...spoiled I know”.





 - Marilyn Kirschner

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