Date with a princess

July 12th, 2012
By

marie-chantalNadine Kam photos
Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece is in town to mark the first anniversary of her children's boutique in DFS Galleria Waikiki. Families are welcome to share the birthday cake tonight.

mckidsMarie-Chantal photo
Pieces from Marie-Chantal's fall-winter 2012 collection, including
this Cord dress and zip cardigan, will start arriving in mid-August.

The Marie-Chantal boutique is celebrating its first year in Hawaii with a free first birthday party tonight at the DFS Galleria Waikiki, and families are welcome to join the fun between 7 and 9 p.m.

There will be complimentary mini cupcakes, face painting, balloons, music and bib embroidery. Then, at 8 p.m., Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece will make an appearance, posing for photos with keiki and cutting a birthday cake.

DFS Galleria Waikiki is at 330 Royal Hawaiian Ave. While there, check out the fabulous windows and displays, some highlighting the work of University of Hawaii at Manoa Apparel, Product Design and Merchandising seniors, who were invited to come up with little black dresses inspired by luxury handbags.

mccoatMarie-Chantal photo
Marie-Chantal Flick coat.

dfswindowOne of the windows featuring a collaboration between DFS and University of Hawaii fashion students and graduates. It's great to see the retailer taking notice of the students' work. There are some beautiful windows that come out of similar collaborations in New York between retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, and the students of Parsons.

Although the princess was here last year for the boutique grand opening, I was in New York so missed it, but I got to catch up with her this morning and learned about her fondness for Hawaii stemming from her frequent travels here as a child, as the daughter of Robert Warren Miller, a co-founder of DFS.

So of course I had to ask her if, with her dad's stake in the company, if she had the inside track to bringing her boutique to DFS, and believe it or not, she said she was never one to pull the relationship card.

In growing her 10-year-old brand, she stuck close to home at first, opening three shops in London, and said, "I could go to my father for advice, but he really wanted me to do it on my own. He knew how difficult it would be, and what he was doing, retailing, is very different from manufacturing."

With her entrepreneurial streak, she initially thought of launching a cosmetics business, but as a mother of five, three at the time, she was persuaded to look at children's clothing just before the market took off.

dfs1DFS Galleria Waikiki is beautifully dressed for tonight's celebration, including with this floor-to-ceiling display. The illustrations were done by French artist Jean-Pierre Busson in advance of a "How Do I Look?" beauty event to take place in September. Should be huge!

"At the time, it was difficult to find a one-sop shop with everything you needed, from casual to party clothes and everyday wear," she said. Today she offers everything from outerwear to underpinnings, and while her inaugural collections were innocent and sweet, as her children grew older, they became more trend driven.

Her 16-year-old daughter has since aged out of her clothes, but Princess Marie-Chantal said otherwise, her children never complained about wearing her collections. "My kids, they were good, but I think I have good taste. I knew what feels good and I want children to feel fantastic about themselves."

Part of knowing what feels good came from knowing what didn't, and the princess said she grew up in Hong Kong where it was difficult to find children's clothes, and the clothes they did find were scratchy and stiff.

She said her mom had to go to Europe "to get us the pretty clothes. There was Cacharel, Daniel Hechter and Rose of London, I remember all the names."

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