Jeffrey Kalinsky loves the styles of the moment.
On the eve of New York's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, the retailer (whose eponymous Jefffrey stores in Manhattan's meatpacking district and Atlanta's Phipps Plaza are hubs for celeb shopping), knows that designers' Spring 2014 collections will create a buzz at Lincoln Center after Labor Day.
But right now, as the leaves start to turn and Kalinsky celebrates his 21st annual Jeffrey Fashion Cares Atlanta fundraiser for breast cancer and AIDS charities, all he can think about is Fall.
Backstage at the gala and runway show in downtown Atlanta, Kalinsky is readying models to present a curated selection of favorite looks he plucked from the Paris shows last spring, as well as bits and pieces of the goodies currently on display at his boutique in A-Town's Buckhead district. Golden Lanvin booties sparkle on a white laquered table over at his shop while the audience at his Fashion Cares event coos over a swishy Dries Van Noten gown dripping with pink and canary feathers. It's a double fantasy.
The contrasting facets of Ready-to-Wear collections are not always mutually exclusive, Kalinsky tells me, but "what you see on a runway and what people should be buying in the store are two different things." In other words, that fiery Givenchy print with the sheer skirt might not be what a lady who lunches would choose, yet juxtaposing it with a prim Pepto-pink Simone Rocha suit (one of Kalinsky's favorite looks for fall) will make her go ga-ga? Exactly.
The biggest fashion shock this season, Kalinsky says, is footwear's circumnavigation to a sleeker heel.
"We've come out of a period where the higher the platform and the crazier the shoe meant the more fashionable shoe," he says. "Now we've gone back to a single-sole pointy-toed pump. It's very much the time for a Manolo Blahnik again."
So, the ladylike shoe returns, eh?
"I don't know that the word is ladylike," Kalinsky says. "When we say 'ladylike,' for me that can mean not fashionable. Pointy-toed, single-sole shoes -- the ones which might have looked a little boring years ago -- are what looks right with the most exciting clothing today."
For more than two decades, Kalinsky has provided a place for his hometown customers to get a high-end shopping experience with access to some of the worlds' most exclusive brands. Although he has tasted great success with his own store in New York (and as Executive Vice President of Designer at Nordstrom), Atlanta holds a special place in his heart. "Not having a store in Atlanta would be like asking me to do something bad to my firstborn," he laughs.
If both Jeffrey stores are immune to the waxing and waning of the Dow in recent years, it may be because of the shop's reputation for impeccable service and relationship building (in a city of 6 million people, Jeffrey Atlanta manager Don Purcell is every girl's best friend). Kalinsky also believes some things in fashion never change -- especially the buyers who can't live without it. Bust or boom, he says, "I think people who love fashion always have and always will find a way."
Photos by Dylan York and Courtesy of Jeffrey Atlanta.