Forget all this business about chic socialites on magazine covers setting standards for style. It's set on fashion runways, says Jack Miles, I. Magnin's man for fine apparel for 50 years. Thursday night, the store's VIPs presented Miles with the ultimate seal of approval, the Mary Ann Magnin Award for Excellence, named after a founding member of the powerful retail family.
The man knows how to sell clothes.
Mrs. So-and-So is in the dressing room with a $6,000 dress. He's left her there alone to decide. She's one who comes in from Pasadena, Palm Springs, Salt Lake City or Phoenix, shops by appointment and never asks the price. Miles explains: "She phoned me the other day, said she needed a dress for a special event, I gave her the one dress. No choices; people get confused. One dress makes it seem like this is the one for you."
Miles thinks nothing of selecting a $7,500 Valentino cloth coat from the designer's Paris showroom and shipping it home for one of his regular customers, certain she will buy it.
"My customers have taste, but they let me guide them and they look better because of it," he explains.
He's slowly phased out his Hollywood client list--"women who want beautiful clothes"--that once included Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr and the late Rita Hayworth. "There aren't any celebrities anymore, women you remember after a movie," he says. "If I had to rely on Hollywood these days, I'd be out of business."