The dialogue between Kelly Fazende, manager of Angelique (7725 Maple St., 866-1092), and a young blonde customer sounds like a conversation between friends — they chat and trade compliments as Fazende guides the woman around the boutique's brightly lit space, pointing out new arrivals. "I just ordered this for myself," Fazende confesses, pulling a two-toned cross-body bag off a shelf. "It's the perfect Mardi Gras bag." The shopper oohs, ahhs and agrees.
Fazende says developing relationships like this one and assuming a do-anything attitude when it comes to client happiness have been key to Angelique's success. In addition to selling clothing and fashion accessories, the boutique offers full wardrobe outfitting and at-home appointments for customers too busy to come to the store. During hectic times like Carnival, Fazende calls clients to ask if they need help dressing for any upcoming events. When a new season rolls around, she accompanies owner Angelique Short to market shows, carefully selecting every piece that will be available in the store. "A lot of times, we'll pick up something at market that we think would be perfect for a certain client's look," Short says. "Everything we buy, we buy with our customers in mind."
Both Short and Fazende make a conscious effort to bring new designers' work into the store and offer unique pieces that are at the forefront of trends, mostly to ensure their customers won't find other people wearing ensembles identical to their own. This is reflected in the clothing racks holding lines like Halston, Red Valentino, Parker and Diane Von Furstenberg. Short describes these as designers' contemporary lines — high-end but at a lower price point than couture — but she explains that "contemporary doesn't necessarily mean 'young.'"
Since opening Angelique 10 years ago, Short has translated her comprehensive approach to her customers into spin-off businesses. Angelique Baby (5519 Magazine St. , 899-8992) offers maternity and baby fashions, and Angelique Shoe (5421 Magazine St., 891-8992) opened last September with a wider selection of shoes, handbags and accessories. The latter also is home to Tisa's Beauty Bar, a makeup and airbrush tanning salon. Now Short can outfit her clients completely from head to toe.
"Our customers like the extra attention, and they're loyal," Short says. "We meet a need for them that no one else can."