Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

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If there’s a tip to take from jet setters this summer, hiring personal shoppers is it. From exclusive previews to designer one-on-ones, here are five to help you

Tourist season internationally means crowded shop floors and harried assistants, even at the big stores like Harrods and Macy’s. Cue in personal shoppers. Well-connected, with insider access to a city’s top designers, they can get the high-spending globe-trotter into ateliers before shopping hours and even convince high-end boutiques to open their doors on holidays and Sundays. But why spend on these fashion insiders, you may ask, when there are plenty of digital options — from apps like Style Counsel that provide fashion advice, to social media influencers. Personalisation, say the experts. “Influencers are not stylists; they dress and take photos of themselves. Often, I’ve had clients come to me with ‘inspirations’ they found online, which I’ve had to translate to suit them,” says London-based Marika Page, who is in demand for her edgy makeovers. And it is not only the well-heeled who are looking them up. Even globetrotting executives are taking advantage of their expert guidance and private discounts. Here are five personal shoppers to look up when you next travel.

Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

Marika Page, London

A lawyer whose adventurous personal style inspired her to shift careers six years ago, Page creates bespoke fashion itineraries for clients ranging from wealthy housewives to international royalty. With a resume that includes celebrity styling — think singer-actress Pixie Lott and model Daisy Lowe, among others — she offers direct access to top designers, ateliers and department stores like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. “I curate my trips based on an in-depth knowledge of my clients’ needs, style preferences and budget,” says Page, who shops daily and visits the fashion weeks in Paris, Milan and New York to keep herself updated. In a city with names like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, she also points you in the direction of up-and-coming names like Molly Goddard and John Smedley (“who stands out for mens knitwear”). “I love under-the-radar designers from across the pond, too, like Ulla Johnson, Cushnie Et Ochs and Rebecca Taylor. And the luxe bohemian style of See By Chloe is excellent (you get the look of Chloe but at a fraction of the price!).” A few of her clients, she shares, seek her out after being disappointed by in-house styling services at department stores. “Their staff tend to be junior level ‘stylists’, limited by time and a focus on sales. I do a day’s preparation before my clients arrive and, during the consultation, we workshop styling techniques,” she says. One of her recent clients, a prince who lives in Paris, signed her on to curate his honeymoon outfits. “I had to consider styles appropriate for skiing, sailing and international city breaks, and plan everything from his Valentines Day outfit to special honeymoon pyjamas!” Page has also just launched her International Shopping Holidays in Los Angeles and Paris. Her fee is £560 per day. Details: marikapage.com

City finds: “Sloane Square, with its independent boutiques, is not as hectic as central London. For menswear, the Paul Smith sale shop, located 10 minutes from the flagship store in Bond St, is a hidden gem. If you’re into avant garde, I’d recommend Dover St Market and Wolf & Badger in Mayfair.”

Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

Carla Snajder, Hong Kong

Attention to detail is what Snajder prides herself on. Clients are picked up at their hotel lobby (or cruise ship terminal or airport) and whisked away to designer showrooms and hidden boutiques — with Champagne at hand and significant discounts on offer (owing to personal connections and how much she shops each day). An expert on high-end shopping in the city, she not only boasts exclusive access to international names — like luxury Swiss brand Rohmir — but also to Hong Kong’s most-wanted, like Susanna Soo. “Her collections embody both romance and practicality, and she personally takes care of my clients,” she says, adding, “Isabella Wren and tech-savvy Sarah Chessis, who brings 3D technology into her clothing, are also favourites. I like Catherine Marsch’s effortlessly beautiful designs and they flatter my Indian clients’ body types.” She admits shopping in Hong Kong can be a challenge — “due to its small size and the high population density, retail happens more vertically then horizontally” — but her access to all the best places, from edgy clothing and foot wear brands to jewellery stores, help cut through the clutter. “I recently started a collaboration with jewellers Carnet, and Michelle Ong, the director and one of Hong Kong’s top designers, takes personal care of my VIP clients who are looking for original work.” In the business for six years, she also takes on remote shopping projects for clients across the world, including India. She charges HKD $965 per hour. Weekend readers can avail a special discount by typing ‘CARLA’ when booking her services. Details: carlapersonalstyling.com

City finds: “At the PMQ building, visit Cicilia Ma for funky handbags, Chailie Ho for luxurious silk scarves, and No Brand No Name for the latest sunglasses. On Gough Street, in the Soho Area, you will find small boutiques, and instagrammable spots like Audrey, a tea house, and Gough on Gough, a modern British restaurant. Stop by Label Chic for vintage and pre-loved designer clothes, and English brand Timothy Oulton for customised leather goods.”

Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

 

Joan Kaufman, New York

Who better than a former Hollywood costume designer to give your style a makeover? Kaufman, who has worked on films like Zoolander and Across the Universe, began her career as a shopper, which, she says, helped her “become familiar with the many shops, boutiques and designers” in the city. “I also dress several fashion shows (Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, among others) during Fashion Week, which gives me insights for the upcoming season and introduces me to new designer collections,” says Kaufman, who goes online to keep up with the London, Milan and Paris shows, and European and Japanese fashion. And if you want to cut queues at Madison Avenue and Soho, she is your person. “I visit the designer boutiques before meeting with clients, and appointments are made in advance to ensure a luxurious service. Most recently, a client met with Zac Posen in Fifth Avenue to select pieces from his new collection,” she says. The stylist, who is invited to designer trunk shows like Oscar de la Renta’s and Dior’s, keeps her clients — from Middle East magnates to Texan executives — apprised of designs even before they hit the boutiques. “I also assist with seasonal collections, sophisticated accessories and luxury gifts,” says Kaufman, who recently worked on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heavenly Bodies fashion exhibition. Details: joan-kaufman.com

City finds: “Besides Barney’s and stores like Giorgio Armani, Carolina Herrera and Dior, the tree-lined streets of the West Village are a draw. Enjoy a quick espresso and madeleines while shopping along Bleecker Street.”

Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

Aloïs Guinut, Paris

From curating wedding trousseaus to helping “a newly-handicapped woman dress for her wheelchair”, Guinut says her styling sessions are never predictable. “Once I ended up drinking vodka and eating caviar with a Russian client while creating outfits to go with her many diamonds necklaces,” she adds. With an interior design background, she planned her entry into styling as meticulously as she plans her itineraries — first, training at the Institut Français de la Mode, then a fashion blog to build her base, and finally in 2014, a career change. “I help my clients define their style and choose the designers accordingly. Along with brands like Dior, Chanel and John Galliano, and exclusive experiences like trying dresses at designer Rabih Kayrouz’s atelier, I frequent niche names, including biker jacket designer Alice Balas, Franco-Japanese designer Mikako Ishii’s Ambali brand, and independent jewellery store Matières à Réflexions,” she says. Guinut — whose book, Dress like a Parisian, “a witty guide to finding your personal style, taking inspiration from how real Parisian women dress”, released last month — also offers quick neighbourhood recon tours. She charges €300 for four hours. Details: dresslikeaparisian.com

City finds: “I prefer the Marais, with its small designer boutiques, to the luxury shops around the Champs-Élysées. You will find gems in rue Charlot, rue de Poitou, rue de Saintonge and rue Froissard. For vintage, I like Au Revoir Simone.”

Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

Tanguy Ottomer, Antwerp

If you are in Antwerp, Belgium, both for its reputation as an incubator of style (think Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela), and its diamonds, Ottomer is your man. With his many books and columns on Antwerp and fashion and his TV appearances, he has clients from the US, Russia and Japan monopolising most of his days. As a personal shopper, he knows every worthy fashion name and bar in town (a shopping essential), and you will end your trip as great friends. “No social media can change the personal touch of a good shopper,” insists Ottomer, 37, easily identifiable for his impeccable Café Costume made to measure suits and Clark Gable moustache. With a team of 10 “because I have expanded to other cities like Bruges, Ghent, Brussels and Knokke”, he is no stranger to the odd request. “‘I need to buy diamonds for my mistress’ or ‘can you get Dries Van Noten to sign my clothes’ are the usual ones,” he says. Clients answer a questionnaire before they travel to Antwerp, so he can arrange personal apppointments at boutiques. For now, he recommends the city’s brand new Diva diamond and silver museum, and looks forward to the former stock exchange launching as a five star hotel next year. €450/half a day (4h) and €750/ full day (7h). Details: beroepsbelg.be

City finds: “Four best-kept retail secrets in Antwerp are Vrijdagmarkt 6 and Rosier 41 (for stocksales and second hand designer clothes), Honest by Bruno Pieters, and the new Coccodrillo for the best shoes in Belgium.”

Access is everything: Personal shoppers for globetrotters

Others to book

– Cedric Haddad (Lebanon): This Beirut-based celebrity stylist is a regular on local television. Catering to the likes of Nardine Farag, Egyptian television personality, he also serves as a sardonic member of the Fashion Police. On Instagram @cedrichaddad

– Aram Kabbani (Saudi Arabia):This Middle Eastern fashion icon has served as stylist to a range of celebrities, including HRH Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel. She highlights regional designers like Elie Saab and Mohammed Ashi in her outfits. On Instagram @aramkabbani

– Annie Atienza (Shanghai): Trained at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, this image consultant works with her global clientele to curate ensembles, and even provides workplace style assessment. On Instagram @annieatienza

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