December 16, 2008

Designer deals or Pretty Woman syndrome at Vancouver's luxury stores?

You know the scene. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman gets iced-out by a snobby shopkeeper because Roberts' character is a, well, a hooker.

Mark Startup, CEO of Retail BC, calls it the Pretty Woman Syndrome. That's the belief among people will experience poor service at a luxury boutique if they appear they can't afford many of the items.

Well, today, I tested the idea by alighting through some of Vancouver's most elite stores. Starting at Waterfront Station, I wandered through Plaza Escada and Leone at Sinclair Centre, Alfred Dunhill at Howe, Harry Rosen at the Pacific Centre, Gucci and Louis Vuitton at the Hotel Vancouver and, finally, Salvatore Ferragamo on Robson.

My goal was to declare I was looking for cheap or affordable designer stocking stuffers for an office gift exchange. My budget was $100-$200.

I was pleasantly surprised. The service was excellent and super-accommodating. With the exception of Gucci where sales staff were swamped, I found the shop keepers super helpful. So helpful, I was able to compile a list or great stocking stuffers for the man or woman who may have everything!

At Plaza Escada, Janet Truong showed my a complete line of women's belts that were 50%. Great for cinching sweaters and wrap coats alike. But my favourite deal were on trend knitted berets from Escada Sport, usually $160, on sale for $80 (top).

For the skinny tie man in your life, look for a fine Dior tie at Leone, also at Sinclair Centre. A textured Shantung-like, it comes in black and is perfect for this season's celebrations, $97.

At Dunhill on Howe Street, I found delightful poker cards with the mascot bulldog. If golf is the game, check out the leather golf score card keeper for $80.

At Harry Rosen, the very best deal I found that day were silk knot cuff links for $12. Sometimes avoiding man-bling on French cuffs is the best way to keep things suave and yet understated.

For the travel bug, consider Louis Vuitton's had beautiful illustrated travel notebooks for $95. If you have a friend who has gone to Beijing or Mumbai or Paris or New York or just dreams about it, LV's scrapbook will make a great way to keep the memories.

At Hermes, you can find an affordable family heirloom that granddaughter's would fight to get their hands on: the Twilly print scarves for woman for $150 (right).

At Salvatore Ferragamo, if you can't afford the shoes, go for their scarves. From simple neckerchiefs to full-sized Catherine Deneuve head covers, they go for between $129 and $200. Italian fibre arts at it's best. You can't go wrong.


  1. With regards to your mention of the Hermes scarf, funny thing is, my mom was just telling me about how she still uses the "how to tie a scarf" booklet that came with one of her Hermes scarves from from 25+ years ago. Funny thing is, a lot of it is still relevant to silk scarves today - I guess that's why they say fashion is cyclical. I considered scanning parts of it for Modern Mix Vancouver!

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