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Guide to Discount Designer Shopping

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Sometimes a deal is so good, it’s almost vulgar—almost. According to Paco Underhill, founder of the retail research firm Envirosell and author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, “Right now people are celebrating how little they’re spending on something, not how much. It’s not seen as a compromise but as being smart.” Judging from what we’ve seen and heard lately, he’s on to something.


From Gilt Groupe, an invitation-only Web site with 36-hour designer sales: a Carolina Herrera fishtail skirt for $400 (it retailed for $2,990); a Malo men’s cashmere blazer down from $2,300 to $700; and reports of Christian Louboutins for $175! Departures readers can join at Other invitation-only auction sites we love:, for vintage couture (join at;, for deals on everything from weekends in Nantucket to men’s watches (join at On the non-invitation, we saw a Hervé Léger knit dress for $557 (65 percent off).

Postcard From L.A.

“Was just at Decadestwo [designer consignment shop on Melrose]. Saw Alaïa pony-fur boots we loved. $350!! Didn’t they retail for $1,650??” 323-655-1960

Live From New York

Century 21 in downtown Manhattan is not where designers will send you, but most of them are here—and deliriously discounted. Where to start? Perhaps with the six pairs of Nike sweat shorts picked up recently, along with Calvin Klein T-shirts, at less than half retail. Italian designer suits that would go for $1,500 were marked down to—egads!—$295! Seriously. Cross my heart and hope at full retail. Menswear is definitely better than women’s, but for serious bargain hunters, this is a markdown mecca. 22 Cortland St.; 212-227-9092;

E-Mail From a Concerned Colleague

“Was just at Talbots….Don’t ask. But they’ve got red candles (a bit like the ones at Hôtel Costes) by the florist Belle Fleur. For $24! The Belle Fleur ones are closer to $50, aren’t they? Great for gifts.” 800-825-2687;


An undercover assignment to Ina, a designer consignment store in SoHo, yielded a Bill Blass bronze lace skirt for $175 and an Oscar de la Renta black patent-leather clutch for $575. 101 Thompson St.; 212-941-4757;

Informed Sources Tell Us

Jil Sander is doing a collection for Uniqlo, and everything is under $150: $39.50 for a dress and $129.50 for a men’s cashmere sweater? 917-237-8811;

Note to Self

Smart shopping can pop up in the most unexpected places: At a high-end children’s clothing preview, a very fancy lady wore her Verdura watch with a gold link bracelet I thought was vintage Boivin. “No,” she said proudly, “J. Crew, $60.” Later, in the lobby of the Four Seasons, I spotted an amazing cuff with amethysts and rock crystals: gold plate from Susan Hanover and only $300.


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