Suburban Detroit is not a place you would expect to find one of America’s most fashion-forward boutiques. Yet Linda Dresner’s eponymous shop in the small town of Birmingham has been just that for the past 24 years. Housed in a low-slung, rectangular building that was once a medical supplies store, it was the first store in Michigan state to carry Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Dries Van Noten – designers whose collections are often not easy to wear today, much less two decades ago.
“It’s not for everybody,” says the Detroit native and former model of her avant-garde merchandise mix. Indeed, it is hardly what one would picture the average Midwestern woman wearing. But then Dresner, who also ran a store on New York’s Park Avenue for 25 years and counted Jackie Onassis among her clients, isn’t your average Midwesterner. “My clients, like me, are adventurous. They have an appetite for fashion and are hungry for things that are interesting.” Dresner’s definition of “interesting” is “something that stands out in an artistic way but is still very wearable”. To wit, this season one will find Balenciaga cropped black wool trousers ($965) with a silver-chain detail, Saint Laurent short, felted black wool capes ($2,450), Azzedine Alaïa crewneck knit dresses ($3,360) with full skirts and Dries Van Noten gold jacquard cocktail dresses ($1,480).
“When I see something especially exciting, I go out on a limb,” says Dresner. As was the case this season with Vetements, a Parisian label whose designers cut their teeth at a perennial Dresner favourite, Maison Margiela. “They are very exaggerated in their proportions,” she says of the shearling-lined, zippered bomber jackets ($4,590) and slouchy black angora sweaters ($1,245) with a keyhole back. “I am crazy about them.”
She is also crazy about Rome-based Stella Jean, whose colourful creations she describes as “totally original, a mix of athletic African folk and modern design. Just fabulous.” And as colour and pattern are scarce in her minimal white-walled, grey-floored space, these pieces, such as a red and green plaid, beaded skirt ($820), really pop.
Accessories are equally thoughtfully chosen. Dresner is a fan of Italian shoemakers Marsèll, and this season she has focused on its low-heeled booties ($895) in white and nude washed leather and black patent. “High heels don’t look fresh to me,” she explains. Handbags are “art-like”, such as the Lucite and faux-leopard studded clutches ($1,190) by Tonya Hawkes, shearling tote bags ($880) by Carmina Campus and Maison Margiela paper shoppers ($1,785). A small selection of costume jewellery completes the bold look. Embracing the single-earring trend, Dresner offers a shoulder-grazing crystal duster ($640) from Vetements and statement pieces ($520 each) from Delfina Delettrez – with a single pearl at the front and drops at the back depicting stylised glittering lips or a gold-eyelashed eye. They are anything but the obvious choice. “The designs are mysterious, strong and interesting – perfect for my clientele.”