Local Designer Melds Shopping and Art
By Susan Redstone
With The Gallerie, a little corner of our mountain town has etched its way on to the national fashion scene. Perhaps it has something to do with the store’s vibe—upon entering the lower-level style sanctum, uncluttered racks and controlled color and texture edits produce a Zen effect—yet owner Sarah Lippincott certainly has her finger on the pulse of It-girl fashion. Make that It-lady fashion, too, considering her client base extends from sophisticates aged 25 to 65 in this mother-daughter shopping haven. But make no mistake: This is a shop that takes fashion seriously.
Like lots of successful boutiques that take hold in small towns (or online), The Gallerie has built its theme and vision on Lippincott’s strict aesthetic and her knack for stocking thoughtful, artistic pieces by sophisticated global designers. It takes an unrelentingly clear and fresh perspective to carve out a niche in the crowded small-boutique arena, particularly in Aspen, where boutique shopping is the norm. A former “gallerista” who worked at art gallery Susan Duval on East Cooper Avenue prior to opening her store, Lippincott’s taste has been honed by two major influences: years of English equestrian training while growing up in Virginia, and the art world. Taste is always difficult to define, but hers, it appears, is a unique cloth woven of contemporary art and horse and hound. A Lippincott-styled girl is cautiously underexposed though body-consciously wrapped in exquisite textures, has a sophisticated air, and knows her own sexiness comes from this untraditional mix. It’s safe to say that Kate Middleton would like this boutique.
A willowy model type and Basalt resident, Lippincott balances the demands of the Aspen business with her 2-year-old son Townsend, while moving forward with a venture started four years ago, her own line named Gray. Though still in its infancy, Gray shares coveted space with the most stylistically concentrated and globally revered brands: Ports 1961, Derek Lam, Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, and Lela Rose, among others. While browsing the store it’s hard to tell which are her pieces and which belong to these established lines. More artsy and urban than Ralph Lauren, you’ll see and feel Gray’s silks, cashmeres, cottons, and Italian jerseys, all elements of proper English classics with a hint of aristocratic flair. Her line is not trendy. She continually reintroduces one of her most successful items, the one-shoulder Piper dress (an early staple of the line), season after season.
“I don’t have any formal design training,” Lippincott says, “but I do have sophisticated taste.” The biggest challenge, she admits, was finding a small production venue. “Everything is made in New York in the Garment District. I have a great relationship with my pattern maker, which is lucky because [patterns are] hard to do from afar.”
Her reward for being both the store’s buyer and stylist is personal contact with happy customers. “I love getting inspired by great collections and seeing what I’ve bought work for my customers,” she adds. “I love doing it all—being a designer, buying from other designers, as well as styling it all on my customers.” Her everyday must-haves this season? “A Penelope Chilvers Chelsea Chap boot from London, worn with great MiH skinny jeans,” she notes. However, not everything she carries is from international locales. Simple gold jewelry from local designer Megan DeNev Wussow—investment pieces that easily pair with most everything—adorn the accessories case.
Her keen fashion sense was recently punctuated when hip online retailer ModeWalk approached her to create a pop-up store based on its theme du jour, a featured series of up-and-coming Parisian designers. It proved a huge success. Additionally, trunk shows, fashion shows, and cocktail parties with such favorite brands as Ports 1961 and Cobra Society regularly round out iCals for local and visiting stylistas. “Being a locally based store (and designer) I like to get involved with things in the community,” adds Lippincott.
Of course, when most new designers struggle with a showcase for their products, Lippincott was fortunate that she had a flourishing store. Now with nearly 100 or more Gray pieces, this small-town brand with big-city connections continues to make a sophisticated statement. 520 E. Durant Ave., No. 102, 970-544-4893
photography by jodie love