My first job out of college was with Women’s Wear Daily and my beat was retailing. (There wasn’t a lot to cover on the fashion front in Cleveland as you might imagine, other than from a business angle.)
It was then that I learned about fashion and decoration as a business as opposed to the glamourous la-dee-da that fronts the other side of the story. That’s also when I learned about the importance of personalities in making the business of fashion, decoration and the merchandising of aspirational lifestyles exciting and desirable.
Bianco, in Los Gatos, is one of those boutiques that reflects the taste and aesthetic of its owner, Randi Zanardi. Her shop is filled from floor to ceiling with luxury products from France and Italy, among them everything from clothes and accessories to decorative objects, furniture and all manner of unexpected gift items. In the glitter of her Christmas decorations — my book signings there were part of her Christmas Open House parties — she has created a magical holiday atmosphere. You walk into Bianco and you want to celebrate.
Shimmery lights, scented candles, sumptuous glassware and porcelain, and huge, sweet stuffed animals — a snow leopard, a lion, a peacock all white because, the store is after all, Bianco — make one want to gather up everything in sight and sing out, “Charge it, please. . .”
All of this is to say, that when a boutique genuinely reflects the personality of its owner it is unique and very special indeed. And, as a consequence, that personality expressed through whimsically intelligent merchandising “speaks” to kindred spirits which makes for a shopping experience like no other.