Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Theatre of Dreams

I was in Sao Paulo recently speaking to 6,000 (that’s right, 6,000 – Brazil does numbers!!) Brazilian executives about the power of emotion. Afterwards, I took an hour out to visit one of the most interesting stores in the world, Daslu. It was founded a couple of decades ago by two Brazilian women who started with a store in their home. Then their daughter took it to the next level by creating a beautiful Italianate villa, stocking all the world’s great fashion brands, and displaying them beautifully. When she first built the villa, it was in the middle of a favella (slum) which is now completely gentrified.

To get into Daslu you need to be a member with your own black card. When you do get entry, you are met by a bunch of 25 valets and led into the store. If you are a woman, it’s open house in keeping with the store’s legacy. If you are a man, you can go everywhere except the 1st floor which is restricted to women. This is where Daslu’s own brands are sold. Every entrance to this 1st floor is blocked by a 4-foot alabaster statue of a Rottweiller with a sign saying “No Men Allowed” hanging from its neck. When you visit Daslu you are talking about a full day. It has a day spa, hairdresser, beauty salon, Japanese restaurant, champagne bar, two other restaurants and incredible maid service. Every single department has two or three Brazilian women dressed in traditional maid’s uniform who are there to take garments from the shoppers, try them on, fit them and stack them up. It really is a theatre of dreams, dripping with mystery, sensuality and intimacy. The mystery that surrounds not being allowed on the 1st floor is an absolute killer. You can visit Prada, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, M.A.C. and all the others great names throughout the store but you can’t get into the engine room. Very clever.

As if Daslu wasn’t enough, I had another great store experience on the same day. Right next to the hotel Emiliano is one of the best delis I’ve ever been into. It is called Casa Santa Luzia and makes Dean & Deluca look like a corner shop. It has the best fruit (pineapple sized tangerines, mangos that could feed a family), incredible meats, a fantastic Brazilian bakery and sweets to die for. The fresh produce is terrific and service is first class. Casa Santa Luzia is run by an entrepreneur who has a real feel for flavor and quality. Definitely worth a detour.