Q&A: 5 minutes with Maria Leone

Photography: left, Versace Spring 2012; right, Christian Dior Spring 2012 by Peter Stigter

Photography: left, Versace Spring 2012; right, Christian Dior Spring 2012 by Peter Stigter

This month marks the 25th anniversary of Leone (leone.ca), a local luxury retailer where Christian Dior, Prada, Versace and Alexander McQueen are among the dreamy designer labels. We asked the grande dame behind this family business, Maria Leone, about must-haves and milestones.

What was the first garment you sold at the store?
“It was a Versace flowered chiffon skirt. I definitely remember the emotions I had when we first opened the doors and cut
the ribbon.”

How has Vancouver style changed over the years?
“The customer is more educated in luxury [goods]. All the [big] brands have come in—we didn’t have Gucci or Louis Vuitton stores before. Also, today you see fashion as it comes down the runway. It’s a whole different ball game.”

What have you learned from 25 years in luxury retailing?
“I’d rather have less of the best—well-cut pants, good shoes and a great coat. I’m not saying it has to be designer, just good quality.”

Do you have a favourite memory?
“It’s always been when I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. It could be a girl [getting ready] for graduation, or someone who has had trauma in their life—you dress them and they feel great.”

You’re celebrating a personal milestone this year too?
“I never thought I’d still be doing this at 65. It keeps me young, mentally and physically.”

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