One of the peculiarities of the pandemic is that 2020 milestones couldn’t be celebrated properly. But that doesn’t mean they need be forgotten. Indeed, we didn’t want to let another minute pass without noting that 2020 was a milestone for Mary Jane Denzer in White Plains, marking 40 years of dressing women in carefully curated couture (and accessories) for the special moments in their lives.
Mary Jane Denzer the store began in 1980 with Mary Jane Denzer the woman. The daughter of a serious Columbia University professor, a chemical engineer by training, and a fun-loving Southern belle, Mary Jane always wanted to be in the fashion business. She began working at Saks Fifth Avenue, first as a model and then as a saleswoman and next at Bergdorf Goodman. When a Bergdorf customer asked if she would be willing to set up and run a fashion shop, Mary Jane saw her chance.
MJD was on East Post Road in White Plains for 15 years, then for 20 on a corner of Maple and Mamaroneck avenues. In 2014, Mary Jane moved her business to a sleek 5,000-square-foot space in the Second Tower on Renaissance Square, (next to The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester, now The Opus Westchester) – the store’s present home.
One of the things that made Mary Jane great was she knew how to select just the right outfits for clients – with Bodhi, her trusty Papillon, by her side. We will always be grateful to her for allowing us to pose in a black Oscar de le Renta dress during a 2014 visit for a story on the new store. The joy on her face mirrored our own, reminding us that clothes aren’t superficial. They can be transformative.
During another visit, MJD opined that the range of couture sizes was expanding, slightly, which caused us to reflect that we couldn’t fit into most of it. “Being thin wouldn’t suit you,” Mary Jane said forthrightly. And you know what? She was right.
Though she passed away in December 2016, her legacy of service and her eye for marrying couture to her customers live on in Anastasia Cucinella and Debra O’Shea, who became co-owners in 2018. Both are seasoned professionals. For 13 years, Cucinella was Mary Jane’s right-hand woman. O’Shea spent 16 years as the women’s personal shopper at Richards in Greenwich. Together, they’ve brought MJD into a new chapter.
So when you’re in the area, stop by for a complimentary glass of Champagne and a toast – to 40 years of great style and many more of fabulous fashion.