Trying to stay well-dressed is hard work, especially when you open your closet door and out tumbles an avalanche of wire hangers, stilettos and a precariously placed box that clocks you in the head.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an infinite closet and a valet to handle it all for you?
Ah, but you can — for a price.
Garde Robe, a New York-based luxury wardrobe and valet business that has been catering to celebrities, ateliers, business travelers and jet-setting fashion lovers since 2001, opened a West Coast branch in June.
The company, on the Web at http://www.garderobeonline.com, started out providing clothing storage for Manhattanites with inadequate closet space but has grown to also offer delivery, shipping and wardrobe inventory services. Clients include designers such as Carolina Herrera (who uses the service for her personal wardrobe and for her atelier), and frequent travelers who don't want to be encumbered by luggage. Ivanka Trump has made Garde Robe the official valet service of her new venture, the recently opened Trump SoHo New York hotel.
"I thought the concept was terrific — especially for urban environments where closet space is scarce," Trump said.
For simple storage, Garde Robe's specialty is the "endless closet space" package. For $350 a month, a customer receives a rack that will store 50 garments, 10 custom shoe boxes and one accessories box. Those who suffer from Imelda Marcos-itis can store 30 pairs of shoes for $225 a month. A Garde Robe Jeeves works individually with clients to decide what will go to one of the company's luxury storage facilities with 24/7 surveillance for safekeeping.
Included in the "endless closet" package is the cyber closet, a 21st century spin on storage. Each item is photographed, and the images and detailed descriptions are uploaded online so clients can look at what's been stored — and decide which outfits to recall and wear — at any time, anywhere in the world.
The cyber closet is available as a stand-alone option for people who don't want to store their clothes with Garde Robe but want pieces snapped for insurance reasons. It's also a snazzy tool for stylists sending potential garment selections to celebrity clients unable to see them in person: Just e-mail pictures of an outfit's components and, once the client decides what to wear, have Garde Robe deliver it.
The company's luggage-free valet service takes the schleppage out of travel. Garde Robe packs stored items for clients and arranges for shipping, so no more dealing with heavy suitcases, baggage claim or customs lines. Clients can put together destination collections by creating a one-off packing list.
For those who travel yearly to ski in Aspen, for example, all that's necessary is to click "Aspen," and pre-selected choices will await you there on arrival. Sending things back is easy too. Stick the prewritten labels on your returns, and Garde Robe will arrange for service anywhere in the world to handle all items going back to their storage facilities.
Clearly, the service isn't for everyone. One comment posted at Apartment Therapy had user TallulahBelle opining, "With the money you save on this 'first class' service, you could just rent a bigger apartment! Has the world gone mad!?"
Indeed, most of us will never do more than dream of an endless closet, but for celebrities and fashion leaders, the service can have an appeal. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has listed Garde Robe as part of a service it recommends to ateliers. Alexander McQueen has a priceless couture wedding dress stored with Garde Robe, and Oscar de la Renta uses the Endless Closet to archive precious pieces and as a resource to help stylists pull new designs for stars.
Lisa Kulson, former vice president of design for Theory and designer of her own eponymous line, began using the service in 2005 when she was a jetsetter living in Italy, Japan and New York. "Sending samples back and forth and having them get stuck in customs was a huge problem," she said. "If you're in a creative field like fashion, you have lots of clothes and not enough storage. With Garde Robe, everything always arrived beautifully."