When a prescient friend in 2007 advised Shareen Mitchell to pull the plug on her emerging dress label, Shareen, the friend forecast the economy was teetering at the edge of a cliff.
In what may be a vote of confidence for the economy, Mitchell is following her own counsel and is putting her own money behind a reintroduction of Shareen, a cocktail and special-events dress label embraced by tastemakers such as Janie Bryant, the costume designer for the Emmy Award–winning series “Mad Men.”
There was a party for the comeback collection on June 21 in Los Angeles at the grand opening of Mitchell’s 750-square-foot boutique, also called Shareen. It is located at 8377 W. Third St. on the stylish thoroughfare of independent restaurants and boutiques between two of Los Angeles’ dominant malls, The Grove and the Beverly Center.
The world is seeing more of Shareen. With no budget for stylists or public relations, the Shareen label’s “Cameron” dress was worn on the red carpet for the Daytime Emmy Awards on June 23 by actress Christel Khalil. Khalil dropped by the Shareen shop at the proverbial last minute before the Emmys.
Bryant wore Shareen’s “Margot” dress to the “Mad Men” finale event on June 10. She also wore a Shareen dress June 20 at the Costume Council’s “Western Costume Co.: The First 100 Years” event at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (See related story, page 6.) Bryant has been a veteran customer at Mitchell’s other business, Shareen Vintage.
“I see inspirations from the glamour of the 1930s to 1970s inspirations,” Bryant said of the new line. “It’s all tied together by her great love of vintage. She’s cut from the cloth as I am as a designer.”
Like a recession survivor used to rolling with economic punches, Mitchell strives to make glamorous dresses while working on a shoestring.
Mitchell drives a decidedly unglamorous 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser. She funds the dress line and new boutique through revenue from Shareen Vintage, her downtown Los Angeles vintage fashion shop, where she has repurposed old fashions into new and sold perfectly preserved vintage since 2004. The Shareen dress operation is small. She designs, and she employs four full-time sewers, one pattern maker and one production coordinator.
Shareen dresses often use high-end materials, including 100 percent silk and double-faced satin. But Mitchell’s dresses typically steer clear of baroque looks, and the dresses are moderately priced. Retail price points range from $198 to $698.