Fashion Brokers

Today we put our apartment on the market. It’s a sunny little studio with the decor of a French cottage but a view of the Empire State building. We’re hoping for a fair price in this highly touted buyer’s market. I have been lining up open houses on the weekends to try and find our dream home. We are hoping to move up, promote ourselves to a bigger place. With a full-length fridge and ample closets. We have real estate brokers coming out of the woodwork, or in New York city, the exposed brick. My inbox is bulging with emails from strangers with names like Guy and Brook clamoring for my attention. They all seem to cross over, grubbing about in the Manhattan streets and holding up triumphantly the same spoils. 

Who me?

Who me?

At the moment, I am hot property, the new buyer fresh to the market. Wait a minute, I think to myself, I’ve been in this position before. Just not with real estate. There’s another body of professionals that operate just like this: fashion agents. Also known as recruiters, consultants, executive project solvers, or, most alarmingly I think, head hunters. The Queen of Hearts yelling Off with her head! springs to mind. 

My portfolio of "real estate"

My real estate portfolio

When I arrived in NYC with my European design portfolio I was surprised how quickly I became hot property. Fashion agents seem to smell new design blood as soon as it’s cleared through customs.

They had the perfect position for me, they said, breathlessly on the other end of the phone. You must meet our client!

Looking for someone just like me: European background…solid experience…St Martin’s grad…creative and commercial eye…experience with managing a team…When can we set up a meeting?

I have just the property for you, fresh listing! he emails. You have to see it!

Perfect for two: Southern exposure…parquet floors…doorman building with roof deck …residential but within access of shops and restaurants…flexible coop board…When can you make it to a viewing?

My collection of recruiters' business cards

My collection of recruiters’ business cards

There is a fashion agency on every block in midtown Manhattan. Sometimes several on different floors of the same high rise building. Each agent claims they have the exclusivity on a position (listing) and the next day you receive a call from 3 rival agencies about the same job. They court you aggressively, calling or emailing many times a day. You agree to the meeting. They don’t call or email anymore. Days of silence. Finally you are informed the position has been filled or taken off the market. DId it really sell or would I just not pass the board, I wonder.

I have only ever gotten one job through a fashion agent. The “property” looked great from the outside, situated halfway down a cobbled street in the Meatpacking District. My mind raced: I could have lunch every day in Chelsea Market, go browsing at Jeffrey, meet friends for after-work drinks on the roof of the Gansevoort. I signed the contract and the agent breezed out with her 10% commission. I popped my potted plant on the windowsill and a lump of plaster fell from the ceiling and rapped me on the head. I learned from a next-door neighbor, a renter (freelancer) that people had been fleeing like rats from the building and there’d been a revolving door of sad sacks who’d occupied my seat.

Fashion recruiters have never found a home for me

Homeless. Fashion recruiters have never put the roof over my head

I have described fashion agents as a species of smalltime scavenger trawling the streets for tidbits to chew on. But not all of them are like this. One, the Barbara Corcoran of the bunch, is based in Paris and her name is Floriane de Saint-Pierre. With a name like that, you might think she’s either deadly serious, or a complete flake. Well, she’s deadly serious. I met her once when I thought I might move to Paris.

The real deal: Floriane de Saint Pierre

The real deal: Floriane de Saint-Pierre

I consider who can capture the spirit of the brand with a holistic approach. When a designer feels the spirit of a brand and is also comprehensive with how people live today, then commercial success comes naturally. -Floriane de Saint-Pierre from The Business of Fashion.

Who can argue with that approach? That’s why she’s the best. Placing designers in the right companies is like matchmaking. She is highly selective about who she represents, and the pairings she creates, placing qualified designers in grand maisons like Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Burberry…historic landmarks with gilded interiors. She exudes French poise and power and an unsurpassable knowledge of fashion. Incidentally my literary agent reminds me of her. She is also polished and knowledgeable and happens to have lived for a long time in Paris.

But that’s another story…and another type of agent!

In the market for an Open House? Check out the scandalous happenings inside the international fashions houses at the centre of my novel. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.

18 comments

  1. So very exciting, looking for a new house! Good luck. It took me a year to find our perfect place but I am glad I stuck it out and stuck to my gun. Ten years in and we are still here. Plenty of sleazy agents too, until I found a good one. Liked your comparison.

    • Thanks Camparigirl. It’s definitely a production here in NYC but we’re just taking it step by step and hoping for success. We will know the place as soon as we see it, I’m convinced.

  2. Good Luck! I lived in one venue for 9 years. Moved out to commute (Disaster — What was that reason to move? NJ? Really?) Back into the City in a building recommended by a friend. Happy as a Clam.
    The process though — whew! (“What? You really won’t process my paperwork until I send a photo of my pet Iguana? I had emailed a photo to the realtor. You need it NOW? — I have a photo on my phone, can I text it to you? No, the Iguana does not weigh more than 40 pounds.”) XO
    Sending good wishes for a seamless process.

  3. I hope it goes smoothly and you find that southern exposure doorman rooftop garden parquet floors place you are searching for. Never knew there was such a thing as a fashion agent. But of course now that I think of it…also Florian de Saint-Pierre sounds like the name of a beautiful castle or a flowing river or a delicious dessert. I am seriously dissatisfied with my name today.

    • How about Laurella Lynn de Canadaise? You’re from North of the border, right? You could use it on weekends. I need one too then…hmmm name of first pet plus name of the street you lived on as a child…Katy Muff. Er, not quite the same…
      Thanks a million for the lovely review, Lovely! I’m so appreciative xo

  4. How exciting. I would love to live in NYC 🙂

  5. If your agent reminds you of Floriane St. Pierre then you know you’re in good hands! What, with a name like that… it’s just commanding attention! Wish more estate agents would be like her. Good to know the specifics of the species are intercontinental!

  6. kathrynmcerlean@gmail.com

    HI Jackie

    Your home sounds lovely .But great to here that your on real estate and looking for your dream home

    Your mum and I are finishing or art classes in lissen .I have a art interview in magrafelt college in may so I am working at my art at every given opportunity if there is any tips you can give me it would be appreciated bye for now

    Kathryn

    Sent from Windows Mail

  7. Floriane St Pierre..sounds like a wonderful perfume! Good luck with the coming weeks…Looks like it could be a blood fest..which is a good thing I’m thinking..until you have to buy yours!! Argggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! xxxxxx

  8. petermcl2013

    Let’s hope the NY real estate agents are better than the fashion ones and find you your castle!!

  9. Oh, goodness, I hope I NEVER need a real estate agent again in my life! Keeping my fingers crossed for you, dear! 🙂

  10. …xcuse me mam.
    just a note…should you find that penthouse apt…i will clean your floors,wipe down your windows,vaccum your floors,clean your toiletries, keep your wash up….ALL in the name of fashion. you have to keep me clothed.
    woot!

  11. This process can be so exciting and stressful. So I’ll say do your best to relax in between the madness :).

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