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The last time I wore a gown was senior prom, and that look could accurately be summed up in two words: Disney Princess. There were rhinestones, yes, but it was the yards of black-and-white tulle that sent my friends dancing in circles around me at one point in the evening. So when it came to this year’s Met Gala (i.e. the Super Bowl of the fashion world) where I’d be required to wear black tie on the red carpet, I knew I’d keep the poof at a minimum. But with three days to pull a look together, the pressure was on.
Enter Armarium. Launched in April, the startup allows users to borrow rare and ultra-luxe runway pieces through either their mobile app, e-commerce site or New York City showroom. With everything from silk gowns and ruffled Roberto Cavalli skirts to crystal Marchesa clutches and ostrich feather headbands by Eric Javits — the experience can feel like having a magazine’s fashion closet at the tips of your fingers. Where Armarium takes their one-stop-rental-shop idea a step further, though, is with their Style Brigade — a team of stylists who can assist with day-of dressing needs.
“We wanted to give women access to these amazing statement pieces from the runways that are sometimes a one-hit wonder or are in the market, but maybe intimidating to try,” says co-founder Trisha Gregory, who oversaw Ferragamo’s North American public relations for 10 years before launching Armarium.
Garments are rented out in four-day stretches (though you can always buy more time) with prices ranging from $200 to $700 — a fraction of what those silhouettes retail for. Co-founder Alexandra Lind Rose, a fashion designer and style entrepreneur with 20 years of industry experience notes that the experience is meant to introduce luxury brands to new customers in addition to helping them find a special-occasion look.
In the coming years Lind Rose and Gregory hope to continue evolving into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. “We don’t want to be simply known as the ‘evening gown’ people,” Gregory says. “When people travel to other countries, we want to be the place that helps them pack a luxurious and perfectly curated suitcase — a look for each day.”
As for my debacle — which could have very well ended with me giving up and trying to pass an old cocktail dress off as “black tie” — I left Armarium’s Midtown Manhattan showroom in less than 45 minutes with a J. Mendel lace paneled halter gown and CA&LOU swarovski crystal earrings.
I’m already eyeing what I want to wear next.
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