“People used to stop me and ask me where I got my clothes from, but when I told them Australia they were so disappointed because it meant they couldn't go and buy it.” So, after September 11 (where she escaped from the World Trade Center) and turning 30, she re-evaluated her goals and decided that life was too short to be doing something that she didn't enjoy, “I wanted to do something I really loved and was passionate about.”
So she began looking into opening a store that would offer fantastic, unique clothes to the US – “a pretty simple idea that hadn't been done before.”
Charles leverages her business experience and gets advice from friends such as: stylist Rebecca Weinberg who regularly provides input on everything from designers and business opportunities, to hand picking pieces; a retail investment analyst for industry advice; management consultants (like her husband Tony) to review the business model and financial projections; and target customers to understand their desires.
Charles takes great pride in creating a unique, relaxed and customer friendly shopping environment. Helping Australian designers, influencing customers’ style all the while pursuing her passion – clothes, shopping and magazines - Charles has found her dream job!
Factio Magazine: What are your style tips for holiday dressing? Elizabeth Charles: I think a cute dress in red or gold is festive without being too literal i.e., a long sleeve red dress by Karen Walker, a sunray pleat gold dress by Jayson Brunsdon, or a pale green dress with gold embroidered by Toni Maticevski. It’s time to dress up.
FM: What key fashion pieces do you have your eye on this season? EC: I already have my shopping list for SS 05:
Alannah Hill green lace shirt with brown detail.
Akira top with built in silver beaded necklace in natural canvas arrives… along with the rest of NY!
French lace top with a cute woven cord belt by Lover – it has this French/Edwardian/boho/cowgirl thing happening – very hip
V neck sun dress in silk georgette sea foam with choc trim by karen walker
Karen Walker’s new jeans – they are the best I have seen in years, high waisted, man style trouser leg, dark and the cutest pockets on the bum… but they aren’t available until February and it’s killing me.
Antique ladies cocktail watch with a small round face surrounded in diamonds and very thin leather band
Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfums En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti – to me it smells like the beach and white lilacs and reminds me of my childhood
Glide on Versace Beaute Wet Cream Lip Gloss in V2114-A, a bordeaux lacquer. I think the lady like thing needs a little something to keep it from looking too prim and proper and it would be great for right now.
FM: What’s your biggest fashion vice…What do you have to have every season? EC: Shoes, but strangely I don’t have many pairs… I can never find anything that I’m blown away with and antique jewelry.
FM: What’s a fashion no-no when attending special events, galas, and more? EC: Wearing something that's too sexy, revealing, or “trendy”. I think the dress should be flattering, timeless and chic – it’s not a time to try something totally new or avante garde.
FM: What’s your signature style? EC: I don’t think I have one – I like to wear whatever I’m in the mood for, sometimes it's jeans, other times it’s serious, or girly, or prim and proper or a combination! I think it’s boring to stick to one “look” but I guess you could say that I like wearing special, unique pieces that no-one else has and combining them in unexpected ways, such as mixing unusual fabrics, textures, periods and silhouettes in a subtle way. I like things that are flattering, feminine but also have a touch of street ‘cred’. It’s whatever I feel happy in.
FM: Define the style in your city. Which ladies from which city worldwide do you think have or had the most impeccable style? EC: I think some Londoners look fabulous – they have a hip/grunge/eclectic thing happening i.e., Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. I think Parisians are chic, but they can also be a little classic and predictable. New Yorkers are very groomed and put together i.e., Gwyneth Paltrow, but are sometimes a little conservative.
I think Melbourne girls are very stylish as there’s such a mélange of influences from English (British heritage), European (very multicultural), Asian (part of Asia Pacific) and American (TV and Hollywood). Melbourne’s the cultural capital of Australia, it has a real winter and it isn’t as laid back (fashion wise) as the rest of the country. Australia has never had any fashion “rules” so we’ve always dressed eclectically and adventurously.
FM: How long or how fast can you get ready for an event? EC: I always think I can get ready in an hour… but I never quite make it…
FM: What would people be most surprised to know about you? EC: Before I opened my boutique, I was a management consultant on Wall Street.
Elizabeth Charles is located at 639 ½ Hudson Street, NYC 10014. Tues- Sat 12-7:30pm Sun 12-6:30pm. Please visit www.elizabeth-charles.com.
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