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Yuta Powell

Yuta Powell

19 East 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
212 570 6889
yutapowell.com
Hours:
M-Sa 10am-6pm
Established: 1999

It was Yuta Powell, herself, who opened the door to the two-floor boutique just off of Madison Avenue, greeting us with a warm hello. I was immediately struck by this absolutely stunning woman. With her high cheekbones – emphasized by her sleek, pulled back hair – and the perfectly put together outfit of geometric jodhpurs offset by a flowing blouse with a lacy flower patch fastened onto the buttons, I could not take my eyes off of this elegant lady. As she encouraged us to explore the first floor, one side of which is devoted to a “country in city” aesthetic and the other to a more modern, metropolitan look, I found myself continuing to turn to stare at Yuta. The country-inspired room was decorated with quirky papier mache animal head trophies and subtle animal prints. “I have a passion for beasties,” Yuta said with a beautiful smile. “The beasties enhance the look.”

Everywhere I turned, there were splendid clothes and accessories, including on one of Yuta’s assistants, Melissa, who was decked out in a heavy long black dress from Sybilla. Melissa has been with Yuta since 2010, which I thought was impressive, until I discovered the longevity of a few of Yuta’s other employees: Sami has been with her since 2000 and  Mary Ellen starting working with her in the late eighties, attesting to Yuta’s strength of character.

Yuta is a veteran of the fashion world. While still a student in Paris, she was hand-selected by Givenchy to be part of his atelier. Later, she managed and owned his flagship store. When the Givenchy brand was sold to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), Yuta owned and ran the Carolina Herrera Store on Madison Avenue for five years. It was in 1999 that she opened her first eponymous boutique and in 2013 that she comfortably settled into her current location. When the conversation turned to her customers, Yuta was pleased to say that some customers have been with her a long time – she shared that one woman has been returning to her since the early nineties. Though her clients come from around the world, she enjoys being based in New York and having so many American women frequent her boutique. She says that American women tend to be straight-forward shoppers, saying either “I like it” or “I don’t like it” and “I can afford it” or “I can’t afford it.” She also likes New York for more personal reasons: “I really feel at home here,” she confided.

Yuta often buys with her loyal customers in mind. She travels to Paris about every two months to look at new pieces, working with designers that she has known for decades. She even carries the work of one of her old Givenchy co-workers, Pascal Millet. It is very important to her to have a personal relationship with these people, for as she pointed out, “It’s hard to work with someone you don’t know…or like.” As we ascended the steps to the second floor, Yuta began removing items that had hand-painted botanical designs. She told me that they come from an avid gardener who lives in the Alps and also happens to be a designer. It was quite apparent that Yuta has established meaningful relationships with everyone she works with including Tissa, a German woman who is based in Spain. Every season Tissa and Yuta collaborate on the beautiful handbags that were scattered throughout the store.

Not only does Yuta shop specifically with her customers in mind, but she also tailors each piece to suit the buyer. I assumed by “suit” she meant “fit,” but Yuta quickly corrected me. It is easy to make a piece fit: Yuta makes sure the drapery, length, and style all cohere with the person who will be wearing it. She demonstrated with a gorgeous ensemble that our photographer described as “Navajo chic.” She explained that not everyone wants to walk around with the hem of a long skirt dragging behind them so, “maybe cut it at the ankle, add cowboy boots, and boom! Chic.” She then stressed to us that feeling good in your clothes is of the utmost importance in the fashion world. “When you look and feel good, you focus in a different way,” she asserted. She shared a story with us from when she was a little girl and her father had a dress made for her out of the leftover material from his tailored suit. It was odd and pinstriped and did not make little Yuta feel very happy. She remembers that every time she had to wear it, she underperformed in school. “The confidence clothes give you should not be undervalued.” Yuta also believes that fashion should not be taken too seriously, however. “It’s not a religion – put a little humor into it,” she said, adding, “Just put it on and walk!”