Blasblog From Moscow: Meet The City’s Other Chic Entrepreneur-------
It’s no secret that I’m a major fan of Dasha Zhukova, the Moscow-born, California-raised beauty who has founded a museum, launched a fashion label, and was recently named the new editor of Pop—all before the age of 28. Here in Moscow, I’ve met another Russian stunner who’s a master at multitasking (and, like Zhukova, has a closet full of Balmain). Meet Aizel Trudel. The daughter of a Russian diplomat, Trudel grew up all over the world and developed an obsession with fashion that she’s put to good use: She now operates a collection of stores in Moscow, including two Louboutin shops, two Diane von Furstenberg stores, the Marc Jacobs boutique and another for Marc by Marc, a J. Mendel location, and five Aizel stores of her own, which were the first to stock the likes of Proenza Schouler and Balmain in Russia. And it looks like that’s just the beginning.
How did you get into the fashion business?
I was the head of PR and advertising for a company here in Moscow that worked with Donna Karan, Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler, and a slew of other brands, but when I turned 25 I wanted a change. A few years ago my friend Santiago Gonzalez and I went to a party at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, and as I was going down the escalator I saw Christian Louboutin with Diane von Furstenberg going up the other way. I realized that was my chance to meet him, so I ran up the escalator to catch him and started shouting “Christian!” That was the start of our great friendship and business relationship. It was a fruitful meeting because it introduced me to DVF as well.
What is the Russian woman after in a fashion purchase?
Russian women are like all women in the world: They want to look beautiful. The difference is that our customers are more emotional buyers. They were deprived of all these luxuries 20 years ago and today they want to make sure that they can enjoy them fully. Our clients are very sophisticated buyers; many of them travel all over the world and are aware of today’s trends. The reason they come back is because we have an understanding of how to select the best pieces for our customers from the best designers all over the world. Today’s Russian woman wants to look sexy, smart, and young in a modern way.
Everyone in fashion is concerned with the current economic crisis. Have you seen a change in your stores since the downturn? Are you worried about any of your stores?
Our biggest problem is that the ruble has been devalued by about 30 percent, and considering that we import all of our goods from other parts of the world, that has been difficult. The government has stabilized the ruble, which has helped us. Compared to last year, sales have dropped, but our goal this year is just to stay in business. We were very careful when we made our orders for the coming season not to overbuy. Having said that, though, we still have expansion plans.
Indeed, I hear you have something very exciting in the works.
We are going to open a three-floor freestanding Oscar de la Renta store in the fall, including ready-to-wear, accessories, bridal, and the home line. It is going to be one of the most beautiful Oscar stores in the world—I promised Oscar that we would do the fashion show in Red Square, which will be amazing. And then at the end of the year, we are opening a two-story Chrome Hearts store, with an event so special Moscow has never seen anything like it.