Fashion forward

For more than 35 years, Mary Jane Denzer (MJD) in White Plains has been the place for women to find that perfect dress for a special occasion — or an outfit that makes an ordinary day a memorable one. First with Denzer herself at the helm and now with Anastasia Cucinella and Debra O’Shea in charge, MJD offers fashionistas personalized service and an attention to detail that results in just the right look.

Over the past few years, Cucinella and O’Shea have made MJD their own, as the elegant new website attests. We caught up with them before they headed off to Paris Fashion Week to get their thoughts on the year ahead in style:

Mary Jane Denzer is known as the go-to place for special events. What are some of the trends you are seeing?

“Black-tie is having a strong resurgence, with hosts requesting that their guests look fabulous and festive. We had one hostess recently who asked all of her friends to wear the most beautiful gown they own, including what they may have worn to their own events. We loved that. Why not have everyone get to repurpose a spectacular dress and look their very best again?”

Are there any themes or venues that are trending?

“Many parties and benefits are taking place in upscale but elegantly renovated rustic barns, modern industrial locations and rooftop spaces with fabulous views. When we are in the market, we take all of these things into consideration and purchase spectacular pieces with our clients’ venue needs in mind.” 

So there is no tendency to dress down for a big moment nowadays?

“Not that we have experienced.  The tendency to dress down seems to be on an everyday basis. Busy moms often pop in athleisure wear when they shop.  They are juggling so many commitments and want to be comfortable by day. The fun is in creating a head-to-toe transformation that will be loved by the wearer and will delight their guests.”

What then are the most important things to consider in selecting an outfit for a memorable moment?

“We are quite adept at knowing exactly what is appropriate for what venue, which is very important. A beautiful color that flatters the wearer is a must and, most significantly, finding a dress that is flattering, effortlessly chic yet important.” 

What can we look forward to for spring in dressing stylishly every day? 

“The first thing that ‘springs’ to mind is the refreshing mix of acid bright citrus colors. Think lemons, limes, apples and mangos. Florals continue, but polka dots and plaids mixed or on their own are also having a moment. Mid-calf, striped T-shirt dresses abound, and look for more volume in sleeves on dresses and tops. Pastel leather in soft shapes was also shown on many runways.”

What about accessories?

“Hoop earrings worn in pairs or singly, chokers made out of wood and shell, head wraps, colorful sunglasses, straw bags, big slouchy totes and the ubiquitous ‘flatform,’ a hybrid of a flat and a platform, were all trends we saw.” 

This piece will go to press right before you head off to the fall fashion shows in Europe. What can we anticipate from these?

“That’s the joy of the anticipation. It’s always great fun to read the designers’ press notes to help understand what inspired them as the clothes walk the runway. The world’s best designers shop from many of the same fabric mills, so it’s really no coincidence when trends do emerge. It’s their individual interpretation that makes it exciting. We shall see.”

Much has been written recently about the digital challenge to brick and mortar stores. Do you find that luxe stores are immune to this?

“At our level of luxury, it does not affect us. Clients tell us all the time that have tried and failed and that they have a sea of boxes to return. They are desperate to see beautiful designs and quality and for the personal attention we offer.

“Internet sales fail for several reasons, most of which are the same reasons we never buy from designers’ line sheets that are sent to us. Clothing must be seen, fabrics felt, color viewed in real time and ultimately tailored seamlessly to best flatter each woman’s unique figure. 

“In addition, the same clothes are everywhere. People come to MJD, because they know we are selecting the best of the best of what is being shown in New York and Paris. Even if we love something, we never buy more than one or two of a design. They are coming to us for something fabulous, often that can’t be found anywhere else, and they know they will find it.”

What’s next for MJD?

“We are tremendously excited about our new website. It has been a labor of love between us and our creative team for close to a year. We finally found a designer who understood our aesthetic to a T and had the ability to communicate Mary Jane Denzer’s history and future through photography and verse. A new decade begins.  Look for us at mjdenzer.com and of course, we welcome you to come and visit.”

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