What does it take to be a member of the Fifth Avenue Club, the personal shopping inner sanctuary of Saks? You wouldn't have to ask if you were one of the 27 clients of personal shopper Fay Ricotta, which means that you would have probably come to her through a referral, she would have interviewed you, and you would most likey spend around $150,000 to $200,000 a year with her. The WSJ delves into the "closet-sized office" of Ricotta, who is able to provide her clients with brands that even Saks doesn't carry.
So who are these clients that somehow have the pull to make clothes appear at a store where the buyers didn't buy them? The WSJ says Ricotta describes them as such: "She notes that her clients need to share her aesthetic, which revolves around simple, chic pieces like a crisp white blouse or a figure-flattering dress." Read: They have a lot of dough to give to someone who works solely on commission. Ricotta says they're not all huge spenders, though, and she claims that there are some that only spend $1,000 a year. (Most likely, in one shot, and probably on a headband.) And if you must know, 90% of them are size 4s, there's two size 6s, one 10 and one 12.
She manages to stock brands—like Lanvin—that aren't carried in Saks through a bevy of past work connections. She's held down jobs working at Céline and Calvin Klein, and has also had positions at Jeffrey and Bergdorf Goodman, so it seems as though she's made a lot of friends—both designers and customers. When she left Bergdorf in 2005, she brought "a string of clients along with her."
And the brands are like her best friends, in that they pretty much do whatever she asks. For example, YSL says that if Fay tells them that the fabric of an item is "too stiff" or that a coat would do better in another color, they take heed. In two other anecdotes, Gucci sent over runway samples to one of her clients, and Chanel sent extra fabric and trim over so that Saks' seamstresses could add four inches of length to a suit for one of Ricotta's clients.
To further prove her dedication, here's this little diddy: "When one client was delivered a $7,000 sequined gown with the security tag still attached just hours before an event, Ms. Ricotta leapt up from the table at her acupuncture appointment, raced to the store to get the right tool, and met the client's limo at the curb to remove the tag."
· Inside a Department Store's Secret Shopping Service [WSJ]
· Saks Fifth Avenue [Official Site]