Over the past six months, I have had the great privilege of getting to know the family that is Marina Rinaldi. This is a fashion brand that can only be referred to as a family, as everyone from the designers to the shop assistants are in on the customer experience and they take great pride in doing their job to the best of their abilities. And that commitment to excellence makes each and every customer a part of their family too. So, it's fitting that their flagship store in London isn't called a store at all. In fact it's a townhouse, the Marina Rinaldi Townhouse.
Located in the heart of Mayfair, the Marina Rinaldi Townhouse consists of three floors that resemble no retail space you have ever seen before. There are more seating areas than clothes, all put together with comfort in mind. There is an elegance and ease here that is reflective of the items they sell. Even the fitting rooms are more artworks than room separators.
My first time in the townhouse, I was visiting with a colleague and we were taking the afternoon to run through the collections. The shop assistants, all dressed chicly in pieces from the current collection, were like mind readers. They appeared when sizes needed to be fetched and were out of sight when we wanted time to just pursue and drool over both the interiors and the present collection on show. The end result was an introduction to a brand that would stay with me for a lifetime. Never have I felt so looked after in an afternoon of shopping. Most luxury brands turn their noses up at any shopper that dares ask questions or request service. Tisk, tisk at you, shameful retailers. But, Marina Rinaldi is the brand that wants to change things.
Now, a few words on services offered in store that you might not otherwise be aware of. I should start by saying that every customer is treated as a VIP. You are given a service that most stores charge to the moon and back for. Not at Marina Rinaldi. There is a tailoring service in house that can alter any garment you need more fitted for any occasion. There's even a complete Made To Order service for those looking to have coats made exactly to their specification (pics below). This takes place by choosing everything from material of coat to colour of stitching from a chic compartmental trunk on display in house. And my personal favourite? Every single sleeveless garment sold at Marina Rinaldi comes with a set of sleeves that can be sewn on, should you wish to walk that path. And, oh how I love that offering as I get older and begin to hate my bingo wings more and more. My first piece I collected from MR came with these sleeves and I, rather stupidly, threw them out thinking they were extra fabric for the hem of the dress's skirt. There is so much I have to learn about luxury living!
Just back to the staff for a moment, if we can? I struggle with the words here to describe how deserving these ladies are of incredible praise. The saleswomen of Marina Rinaldi have memories like steel traps. They seem to remember size, preference of style and everything else that's required to service their regular and even not so regular clients. They dote on husbands visiting with wives (gents, there is so much comfortable sitting here), they arrange tea parties for women looking for an afternoon of fashion hunting. They even get you comfortable in a living area while they take care of wrapping up all of your garments and sorting out the bill. There isn't one thing I would change. In fact, if I had my way, I'd shop every day in this manner.
To be completely transparent, this whole piece came to fruition after my last visit in store just last week. The Christmas decorations were up, the scene was set for festive fashion fun and the ladies in store were full of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" sentiment. For as many times as I've visited, I had only ever shot the clothes before, and I thought it high time to highlight the experience itself instead, as there's nothing else like it. So I hope you'll allow me this indulgent spreading of excellence. They deserve every word of praise and they also deserve a visit from you and yours! Seriously, next time you're in town, drop by Albemarle Street to take in the decadent experience that is Marina Rinaldi.
Marina Rinaldi Townhouse, 5 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London