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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Pilar Rossi, Designer

A beautiful little “jewel box” of a store on Madison Avenue is one of New York City’s best kept secrets. It is the Pilar Rossi Store, an upscale designer boutique for evening wear and cocktail suits worn by New York’s most prominent social and business women. Peachy Deegan of Whom You Know walks by it regularly- keep reading Whom You Know's column Dress of the Week to see more of Pilar's fabulous designs!

The Pilar Rossi collection is one of couture refinement and elegance. Known for its rich, luxurious fabrics, such as silk crepes, organzas, taffetas, satins and brocades, and lady-like tweeds, the collection is a dramatic one, with beautifully embellished clothes that are often “one-of-a-kind.” Pilar Rossi prides herself on knowing her customers well enough to personally advise them on which colors, styles and accessories suit them best.

Thus, she is known for “the perfect fit,” well-cut clothes that flatter the figure and bring out the best qualities and features of the wearer. Whom You Know just LOVES the dresses and we just LOVE PILAR ROSSI!

“My store has an intimate, salon-like feeling,” says Pilar Rossi. “My clients feel pampered and attended to. Very often, if I am in the store, I personally supervise the fittings. It’s important for me to give all of my clients exactly what they want: fine clothes, a sense of timeless style and personal attention,” she says.

Pilar Rossi, a native of Barcelona, Spain, who grew up in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, began designing clothes as a hobby for her wide circle of well known friends and media personalities in Rio. In the 80’s, Pilar Rossi Stores opened in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero, Monte Carlo, Bal Harbour and New York City. After living in London for four years, Pilar and her husband Ronald moved to New York City in l987 and have been based here ever since. They became U.S. citizens in 2006. Today they have consolidated the business, operating both a wholesale business on Seventh Avenue that sells to upscale designer boutiques around the world, and their Madison Avenue salon.

Pilar Rossi designs have become the favorites of celebrities, society ladies and political and media personalities from around the world. Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie wore a black silk strapless Pilar Rossi gown for Opening Night of the revival of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway. Among the rich and famous clientele of Pilar Rossi, “Inside Edition’s” Deborah Norville is most often seen in Pilar Rossi evening clothes at various charity events that she emcees and attends, as well as at the 2007 and 2008 Oscars in Hollywood and the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Golden Globes.

Designer Pilar Rossi, in her own low-key, modest and elegant way, keeps on dazzling the world of fashion with her high glamour looks and exquisitely made styles. Not only is she a great designer with great vision and taste, Peachy Deegan has found her to be a warm personality as well. Pilar Rossi and Peachy Deegan chatted recently for Whom You Know. We are so pleased to know Pilar!

Peachy Deegan: What inspired you to get into the evening wear business?
Pilar Rossi: My (sometimes very prominent) friends in Rio, who first insisted that I design for them on a personal, one-on-one basis! I wanted to do more and more... and more and more orders kept coming in.

How has it changed throughout the years?
PILAR: The clients today have much more knowledge of fabrics, and more precise feelings of what works for them. AND, they want to be unique. They want to have a one-of-a-kind in style.

What is your favorite fabric for eveningwear and why?
PILAR: All types of Italian silks, organza and chiffons and taffetas. Drapey, eminine fabrics.

You have lived internationally in many places-what do you like most about Manhattan and why?
PILAR: It is so vibrant, so alive, even in this recession . I feel as though New York City is my "forever-home" now.

How does doing business on a wholesale basis differ from retail?
PILAR: The wholesale business is much more complicated and requires trunk shows, personal appearances and getting to know the various regional styles of women in Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and so forth. The customer bases and their needs are entirely different, city by city.

What is your favorite outfit that you have ever designed?
PILAR: A beaded gown worn by Deborah Norville at the Oscars two years ago. And a blue chiffon gown that Deborah wore to the Metropolitan Opera last year. It has become known as the Deborah Norville dress and is still in high demand. It's a classic. Women tell me that they feel as though they are "floating" in it.

Who do you like outfitting the most?
PILAR: Deborah Norville of course. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Also my loyal clientele on Madison Avenue, ladies such as Elizabeth Stribling, Christine Hearst Schwartsman , Ellen Scarborough and so many other favorite ladies.

Who would you like to outfit that you have not yet dressed?
PILAR: My fellow Brazlian GISELLE of course, Who doesn't want to dress Giselle? I would also like to dress some of the British actresses, Keira Knightly, Emily Blunt and Helen Mirren. Catherine Zeta Jones would look fabulous in my gowns! So would Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz and Anne Hathaway.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
PILAR: Either Power Walking in, or just sitting in Carl Schurz Park.. it is so lovely, so peaceful.. BLISS.

What is your favorite shop?
PILAR: I enjoy browsing around and exploring the cosmetics areas at Bergdorf. Otherwise, my own store.

What is your favorite drink?
PILAR: French wines and Champagne.

What is your favorite restaurant?
PILAR: For very special treats, Le Cirque, Sant Ambroeus on Madison and Cipriani Downtown.

What is your favorite NYC book?
PILAR: Of course, E.B. White's HERE IS NEW YORK . That is, or should be, every New Yorker's favorite.

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
PILAR: Enjoy the Neue Gallerie, the Frick, The Met and the Guggenheim all in a few
hours, by just walking near where I live! It always amazes me.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
PILAR: The most underrated is the good food at some of the tiny, neighborhood restaurants on the Upper East Side. Most overrated are the famous touristy places.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
PILAR: I want readers to know the extremely high level of personal service we give to clients at the Pilar Rossi store.. the attention to detail, the time spent on fittings and on achieving the perfect fit for each woman. We really have an "old world" attitude to our customers. WE CARE..

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
PILAR: I would like them to come into the store personally and see us at 784 Madison Avenue, and I want to get to know them and have them find out about the level of personal attention we will give them, for years to come.

Pilar Rossi Store
784 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10065
212 288 2469

526 Seventh Avenue
10th Floor
New York, New York l0018
212 764 2534

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