photograph by jeff mikkelson
Style Arbiter
Roopal Patel

By Shumaisa Rehman

Roopal Patel is the Fashion Director of womens fashion at the prestigious New York store Bergdorf Goodman known throughout the world for elegance, luxury and superior service. As a front row regular at Fashion Week in New York, Roopal is watched as a major buyer and trend forecaster for women fashion. In this interview, Roopal discusses designers, fall fashion and her life in the cosmopolitan dynamic fashion industry.

SR: Which fashion houses that you feel have consistently been at the cutting edge of fashion? Which do you admire for their innovation and high quality?

RP: Designers evolve every single season but there is a consistent standard of classic and chic that is maintained each time. One of the greatest fashion houses is Chanel. When Coco Chanel began her house, she redefined the way women dress. Karl Lagerfeld has taken the house and evolved Coco's vision to a point where women love wearing Chanel regardless of whether they are in their 30s or in their 60s. To me, that is a sign of a veritable fashion house.

One of my personal favorites is Marc Jacobs who is not only a great designer but has diversified his collection to everything from his haute couture collection to Marc by Marc to shoes now to home designs. Then I see a whole new crop of designers that are exploding onto the fashion scene such as Zac Posen and Peter Som. These designers are really taking American fashion into a whole new level.

So I think the fashion gamut runs a wide range …and I could run off a list of design sensibilities whether it is Jill Sanders and her classic minimalism or Narcisco Rodrigues and his architectural shapes. You know we are so blessed to have all of these amazing designers, but for us at Bergdorf it is really about finding true fashion and defining fashion!

SR: Who do you think determines fashion trends -is it the buyer, the consumer or the designer and fashion house?

RP: We as buyers see fashion shows in NY, Milan and Paris. In each show, the design houses tell a story and at the end of each season, it is almost like seeing a big mural. You have the designers from NY, you have the designers from Paris and you have the designers from Milan. What are they all trying to say?

Then it comes down to the retailers and the editorial world to decide what are the major trends for the season and collectively they are the same trends. The retailers buy the collections according to the trends, the editors and the magazines push for the trend and finally it is the consumer who is buying it.

SR: So the latest is primarily dictated by the designer?

RP: The designers are the innovators…absolutely! It's not the retailers or the consumers. Designers are inspired by the women that they see on the streets, in the magazines, by models, by actresses, in old movies, by history. So really it is the designer trying to redefine a woman's fashion style constantly.

SR: Coming to the trends designers have chosen for Fall, what accessories would you say are a must have this season?

RP: A diamonte brooch for sure! Brooches are the trend this season…you have a brooch on your jacket, you have a brooch on your fur, your evening blouse, your cocktail dress. That I think is a given, that goes with saying!

I also think anything which has fur is an important accessory to have this season. Bags are always strong and for this season exotics hold true. We are seeing a lot of fur and feather bags you know, with the fur and feather trim.

To read the full interview, please look for our forthcoming issue of SWAY magazine.