In another life, a fictional one, Ari Dein might have been Gatsby’s mistress, a kept woman who spends airless summer afternoons in an upper west side apartment, lounging in silk pajamas and listening to soft jazz while waiting for her lover.
In her own mind, AD founder Arielle Shapiro likes to imagine that she is Eloise, the adored 6-year-old children’s book heroine who lives at the top of the Plaza Hotel, plotting mischief.
Today, Ari is determined to not only keep the Dein family legacy alive, but to convey the grandeur of old New York through her lingerie designs.
How do you pull that off, you wonder? In Ari’s case, it meant copying the wainscotting wall trim found in hotel rooms at the Waldorf and incorporating it into last year’s elegant Boutique Hotel range (below) — an inspired concept which made Boutique Hotel one of 2010’s most admired designer lingerie collections.
In fact, 2010 was a phenomenal year for this very young designer (25) whose passionate appreciation of her own roots has become her calling card. Ari’s debut collection of silk, made-in-Manhattan sleepwear and bridal pieces was picked up by nine stockists, got profiled in Women’s Wear Daily, showed up on TV in Gossip Girl and made most critics’ year-end best-of lists. And the Boutique Hotel line was so distinctive it will likely sell for years to come.
Ari Shapiro is the last subject in our month-long series of designer profiles called Bright Young Things, and in many ways she epitomizes this new crop of up-and-coming indie lingerie artists. Ridiculously hard-working, determined to create a unique style, driven by a set of clear social and cultural values, and bloody well bent on success. You would be foolish to bet against Ari or any of our other BYTs.
And 2011 looks like another banner year as the Dein name once again becomes a recognized brand.
Ari just returned from the Salon International de Lingerie exhibition in Paris, which she called “a huge success” and resulted in the brand being picked up by several new distributors worldwide. The Paris trip coincided with increased press interest in Ari Dein, which drew flattering features in Shape, WWD and Creations magazine almost simultaneously.
Her new collections for 2011 will include some significant expansions to the AD catalogue — classic silk pajamas, and the first AD line of bras and panties.
And here’s something to think about: a film remake of The Great Gatsby, with the dream casting of Leonard DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, is underway and sure to spark a revived interest in historic New York culture and fashions. When that trend peaks, expect to see and hear a lot more from Ari Dein. After all, who else is going to dress all those would-be Daisys?
Below you’ll find Arielle Shapiro’s responses to our Bright Young Things questionnaire. After that, the first two photos (plus the main one above) are preview shots from Ari’s spring 2011 line, followed by a couple of classic images from her 2010 collection. The very Gatsby-esque pajama shot below is from WWD.
We’ll have a wrap-up to our BYT series tomorrow.
How long have you been in business?
I incorporated in October 2009 but had been hard at work from about June.
Were you profitable in 2010?
How many people are employed by your label?
Just myself, my beloved intern, and lots and lots of contractors.
What plans do you have for new products/collections in 2011?
I’m excited to debut our first bralets, garter belts and underwear as well as full-length classic pajamas.
How do you hope/plan to grow your business in 2011?
I am showing at Le Salon in Paris in January (as well as privately in NY in February) and hope to saturate a broader world market. We are always making improvements to our e-commerce website, and I’m placing more importance on being creative with marketing and public relations than I have in the past.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching your label?
What is your most popular design or product?
The Boutique Hotel Collection is our bestseller, especially the chemise.
Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I seem to be on track with my business plan and fairly stable for a new enterprise. We are growing slowly but surely, and I believe that the goals I have set, although lofty, are visible and realistic. I’m very proud of my latest season for AW2011 (number 3) and feel like I am really beginning to come into my own as a designer and express my point of view as an artist. This is the first season I’m introducing an original screen print on chiffon that I drew myself, and it actually turned out!
How will you define success for yourself?
I think that’s a two-part question. There are the short-term successes — a coveted stockist, an editorial, breaking even, etc. — that make you feel like every morning you wake up and this is your life and your career that defines you and you’re in love with it … I don’t think you can ask for much more out of life. But I’d be a bad business woman if I didn’t have the drive to want to push myself beyond that and work for more opportunities down the road.
So I think I would dare to say I have had a successful launch. And the real trick will be to see if I continue to accomplish greater things as the years go on. But, quite honestly, I feel that everyday I wake up and I still have a job is a success!