Madison Avenue shopping – by appointment only

4 min read

Best-known for offering internet shoppers quick access to couture directly off the catwalk, Moda Operandi has now opened on Madison Avenue – by invitation only. Baroque Access finds out more


Occupying two storeys of a 1910 townhouse just west of Madison Avenue on 64th Street, Moda Operandi Madison is not your conventional store. The plush showroom is by appointment only for a privileged few. And we’re talking very, very few, probably no more than 300 clients in a year, according to the brand’s CE, Deborah Nicodemus.

Those privileged few clients are able to order couture garments and have them expertly customized to their tastes and sizes. Confirmed couture designers include Giambattista Valli, Zuhair Murad, Ulyana Seergenko, Dice Kayek amongst others.


As privileged clients, the staff has all their details on tap, to ensure that every exclusive need is met. Their purchasing history is meticulously noted so that the staff know everything about their history; what they have purchased in the past, how the garments were customized, what they liked and didn’t like from each collection is carefully noted for future reference.

Cofounder of the e-commerce website Moda Operandi, Lauren Santa Domingo is one of the most authoritative figures on New York’s fashion circuit, a muse to famous fashion designers such as Proenza Schouler and is often featured on Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List. Lauren, who co-founded Moda Operandi in 2011, is also a contributing editor for Vogue. She says that this showroom offering is an addition to the perfect online shopping experience – it brings the online experience into the real world.


Moda Operando already opened a showroom in London in 2014, and the new Madison Avenue showroom will follow on its success and cater to its American customers. Exclusive clients spend in the region of $1,200 per order (and $5,000 per order during peak season fashion weeks) around seven to eight times a year.

These private by-appointment-only shopping visits offer an exclusive look at the latest couture garments shown on the runway as well as fine jewelry especially selected to cater to a particular customer. The process of ordering either a haute couture or demi-couture garment involves at least two to three fittings at either the London or the New York showroom or in the client’s home, if they prefer or the designer’s atelier. Once fittings are complete, it takes between eight and 12 weeks for the garment to be hand-crafted.


In New York City, it is difficult to tell if the store is open or closed for business. There is just one window facing the street displaying a beautiful couture gown. One has to enter this plush sanctuary to see the garments on display. Inside, the showroom is a haven of pastel-colored walls and blush suede furniture. One room is home to the fine jewelry, where pieces sell from $10,000 to $100,000, and the rest of the space is adaptable depending on the client’s requirements. Moda Operandi Madison and its London offering feature everything necessary for the bespoke wardrobe, from haute couture and up and coming designers to special occasion outfits, jewelry, shoes, handbags and accessories. As a private appointment can take hours, the showroom has a kitchen on site so that meals can be provided.

The Madison Avenue showroom will also be the venue for private designer trunk shows and small-scale private fashion shows for exclusive clients by invitation only. In addition to offering customers a bespoke service, Moda Operandi also offers personal shopping services.

The brand plans to expand worldwide, with the next showroom to open in Abu Dhabi in 2017, followed by other showrooms in the Middle East, Hong Kong and South Korea.


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