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It only takes one step inside Mona Moore's luxurious, tightly-edited boutique in Venice to know you're in high-end heaven. What began as an upscale shoe store has evolved into a thoughtfully curated concept shop, with a collection that ranges from runway-ready Ann Demeulemeester heels to Haider Ackermann silk bomber jackets to an impressive assortment of The Row's handbags.
The offerings are the result of owner Lisa Bush's unparalleled good taste, amazing industry connections, and intrepid business acumen; her success is proof that risks really do pay off. Her latest acquisition is a highly sought-after selection of seriously cool footwear from the latest It brand, Vetements, including ankle booties, slip-ons, and thigh-high boots, all with the label's signature lighter heels.
We managed to track Lisa down between her fashion appointments (she was one of the lucky few invited to attend Vetements's runway show) and got to know a little bit more about Mona Moore's transformation from its 2002 inception, her vision for the future, and how she managed to secure an exclusive relationship with one of the industry's hottest designers.
How did Mona Moore get its start?
Mona Moore began in Montreal in 2002, we filled a niche for great shoes at a time when Sex In The City was educating all of us about beautiful and expensive footwear. My former partner closed that store after a great run in 2010. Meanwhile, Mona Moore Venice opened on Abbot Kinney in 2009. Last year we moved to Main Street, and we have recently added some clothing to our offerings. We've evolved into a concept store, selling anything we think is beautiful, rare, and interesting.
Can you tell us how your relationship with Vetements came about?
I have known and worked with [sales manager] Jean Dalmas for years. First at Yohji Yamamoto, and then with Marsell. Jean and his partner Heidi are some of the best in the business of representing designers. Jean let me know about a year and a half ago that he was working with a new brand that I should see, and that brand was Vetements.
What do you think accounts for Vetements’s meteoric rise?
Demna Gvasalia and his younger brother, Guram (the business side of things), grew up in Soviet Block Georgia, with very little exposure to Western ideas of luxury fashion. Probably not that different from the way I grew up in Williamsburg Virginia, actually, before the Internet or even MTV. But the thing that's cool about Demna, is it seems to me he just had the confidence to realize that these ideas were actually cool and original and something to believe in and develop.
There are definitely periods when fashion is a little boring and static, so we're primed for something really different. Then comes Vetements. Not long ago we might have thought Eastern European style to be tacky or cheesy and derivative. Vetements elevated exactly those things and made everyone see it with different eyes as something interesting and original which it absolutely is. So you get American pop images like Star Wars and The Titanic, weird high-waisted trousers, a rocker/heavy metal thing, meth-lab Midwest prairie dresses and "bad" haircuts.
Also, there's a younger demographic with disposable income who want clothes for everyday, like sweatshirts, but impeccably made. I think you have to give some credit to Gvasalia's stylist and friend Lotta Volkova. Check out her Instagram!
What makes Mona Moore the perfect fit for this brand?
I would say that our clients are for the most part what I like to call "aesthetically brave." They love fashion as an art form and are risk takers and collectors.
How was the runway show? Any highlights?
The show was amazing! Vetements always chooses a weird place for the show — a hard-core gay bar one season, the next a giant and typical Chinese dim sum restaurant, and then the American Cathedral with show goers sitting in pews. This time it was in a section of Galleries Lafayette during store hours and shoppers could see some of what was going on from the balconies. Vetements has exploded so it's not like an underground thing anymore, but there was this great energy, like all of us felt so lucky and thrilled to be there.
What Vetements styles will you likely receive in the future?
I'm looking forward to receiving the most perfect Doc Martens shoes made in collaboration with Vetements. There will also be a tiny number of very special and limited editions bags seen on the Vetements runway. This is the very first bag Vetements is doing, a collaboration with East Pack I think, but the bags are made in the Italian factories that produce Celine and Chanel. They will be expensive but gorgeous and very rare!