Five-Minute Pow-Wow: Maria Gangemi Talks Shopping

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARIA GANGEMI, DIRECTOR OF BRAND MANAGEMENT OF ACCESSORIES AND FOOTWEAR

Meet Maria Gangemi, Director of Brand Management of Accessories and Footwear at Rue La La. A seasoned buyer whose taste level is through the roof, Maria speaks softly and carries a big sense of style. She can spy multi-ply cashmere from 100 yards. She knows every trend before it’s even a trend. She can pack in five minutes to go anywhere in the world and find the hottest thing out there with two hands tied behind her back.

Rue La La: When you go to say, Milan, what are you looking for?
Gangemi: Usually in Milan we’re looking at handbags and shoes. You look for freshness. Who looks good. What’s new, something we don’t have. You look at creativity. Shapes. Ornamentation. Things that look handcrafted. Materials that are special and unique.

Rue La La: When you’ve discovered something major do you know right away?
Gangemi: It’s instantaneous. I know the second I walk in. On my last trip it was these exotics … in these metallic washes. It was the coloration, the treatment. Taking something done and making it fresh.

Rue La La: You’re quite the jetsetter. How often do you travel? And what’s your packing secret?
Gangemi: I go to Europe four to five times a year. The key is to do one color story. I layer blacks or greys. You layer for warmth. Nothing too heavy or hot. You’ll end up carrying it around. And stay away from light colors because you’re getting in and out of taxis, cars, and planes. Two pairs of shoes – one comfy and one for night.

Rue La La: Do you check your bags?
Gangemi: I did it once long ago and learned my lesson. We’re on a tight schedule and have to hit the ground running. I take one roller bag and one tote with a handbag inside. European airlines are very strict. British Air, Alitalia – it has to fit inside their guidelines – so check before you go.

Rue La La: What’s a great investment right now?
Gangemi: Something you’ll love forever. A great handbag that fits a computer. Because it’s too hard to run if you’re carrying both!

February 19, 2010