When it comes to shopping in L.A., there's a four-block stretch in Beverly Hills that dominates the dollars. While anyone can walk into the The Big Three of celebrity shopping meccas -- Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue (which has just debuted its newly renovated men’s store) and Neiman Marcus – each store has a cadre of staff to cater to the whims of the highest spenders. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with stylist and A-list shopper Nicole Pollard, founder of personal shopping service Lalaluxe, about the special lengths these stores go to for clients with the right cash and cache.
For example, when Pollard has Middle Eastern royalty in town, she'll text her department store contacts to make sure they're ready for her high-rollers. But she admits, “I'm not going to get them out of bed in the morning for less than half a million dollars."
Here, Pollard shares her top 10 secrets for successful VIP shopping in Beverly Hills — avoiding dreaded same-dress syndrome and getting the the store to open early, included.
1. The only thing worse than wearing the same dress as someone else at the party is wearing a dress in the same color family.
Obsessed with the silhouette of spring's latest orange creation but worried someone else's melon-tinged frock might steal your thunder? Worry not. Pollard will find out what colors of a certain dress were shipped to Beverly Hills department stores, then go find colors of that dress — unavailable in L.A. — from stores in other parts of the country. “I ship in different color schemes all the time to find clients something new that not every other L.A. socialite will have."
2. How to get a store to open early.
Only the highest spenders rate this special treatment and all it takes is a text from Pollard. "I live on text. It's the fastest way to get things done such as opening Chanel on New Year's Day or any other Rodeo boutique at the crack of dawn."
3. Why it’s better to hit L.A. for sky-high stilettos instead of NYC.
"We definitely have better shoe styles than New Yorkers because women don't have to walk nearly as much here. They get a more unwearable selection of stilettos here while New York has shoes that are more practical. Saks has their own zip code for their shoe area.”
4. How to get a dress the store didn’t order.
Pollard cites Neiman’s as the store she calls when she needs a piece that didn’t get ordered for the L.A. market. "I am ordering an entire collection of kaftans from Neiman's because they won't buy this entire collection for the store. We work with [Nieman’s personal shopper] Catherine Bloome and the designer to get the client what they want.” Recently, Pollard had a client who wanted 15 Naeem Khan dresses, which go for upwards of $7,000. “I called Catherine and she made the order happen even though [my client] maybe purchased three out of that 15.”
5. Big-enough stylists and personal shoppers can, well, shoplift.
"It's my dream come true. I’ve walked into Neiman’s for royal clients and said, ‘I need 40 Tom Ford perfumes right now’ and they put them in a couple bags for me and I walk out. I’ve had security stop me and the heads of the store say ‘No, no, it’s OK.’ When I was a child I used to dream of taking anything I want from a store, and now I can. It’s like Supermarket Sweepstakes but for luxury.”
6. Let the champagne flow.
If the store serves Veuve but the client wants Moet, the store will get it for them to sip while trying on clothes in the VIP fitting rooms. "Champagne, chocolates, coffee -- whatever the store needs to do to keep the clients happy. The sky is the limit."
7. VIPs often want to shop just like everyone else.
Pollard says she’s seeing a new trend where some of her biggest clients, like royal families and rich Forbes list-makers, “prefer to be left alone by the staff when they shop. I think they think it’s a little more discreet.”
8. But the VIP rooms are always at the ready.
"We always work to have all the looks set up in advance for our clients. Usually they are being pulled in a million different directions or have a short attention span, so it pays to have everything ready for them as soon as they walk in. We have all the tailors set up with a tailor waiting there and we will ship it to them.”
9. Word spreads quickly when a client with a big bankroll and a shopping addiction is nearby.
“Everyone knows when a royal or big spender is in town, thanks to texting. I’ll text somebody and say I’m bringing in a certain family and literally every sales person is waiting by the door and dying to get their hands on these clients. That happens more with stores on Rodeo.”
10. If you're rich and/or famous, stores will basically jump as high as you ask.
"For one of my Grammy clients who needed a nude clutch, Saks was able to switch out her clutch last minute, and we did it in 30 minutes. My client called me at noon and needed it at 12:30.”