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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

She'll Do All Your Shopping, for $1,000 a Month

MTPersonal Touch started by giving free advice to regular clients and then realized that there was a niche for personal shoppers.
A personal driver, a personal secretary, a personal bodyguard. And now, coming to a boutique near you: a personal shopper.

The opening of Personal Touch Consulting may just be an indication that Moscow has finally come of age, or at least is now in full fashion.

There are scores of brand-name boutiques in the city. And it's no secret that Russia's rich and trendy make a habit of lining the designer coffers of the biggest names in the fashion world.

All this presents a perfect environment for a service that's well-known to upscale customers in the West but unknown to the average Russian.

A personal shopper-cum-stylist comes to the rescue of the time- and style-challenged, filling their wardrobes with a steady stream of stylish outfits and accessories and consulting them on how to avoid making a fashion faux pas at an exclusive nightclub or during an embassy banquet.

Personal Touch, founded by the owners of Garderob, or Wardrobe, a multibrand boutique in central Moscow, anticipates a steady demand. The company, which is set to open officially in December, grew out of Garderob owner Yana Bryukhovetskaya's natural eye for what makes a person look good.

Bryukhovetskaya previously worked as a buyer for the Yves Saint Laurent boutique until the company closed its Moscow store in 2001. She opened Garderob six months later in the same location, on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa, a short walk from Red Square, near the Patrick Hellmann Collection and the Irina Tantsurina boutique.

Garderob sells clothes, shoes and accessories by Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Marc Jacobs, Philip Treacey and other top designers.

Bryukhovetskaya and her staff advised the customers that came into their store; then they simply decided to extend the concept.

"We started with our regular clients who needed professional help concerning their wardrobe," said Natalya Penyaz, operations director at Garderob. "We gave them free advice and then we thought, 'Why not turn it into a commercial venture?'"

Word has spread quickly. Interested customers have even called from the regions, Penyaz said, where high-fashion boutiques are still rarely encountered. All current customers are women, although several men have inquired.

"These are people of different professions, but mostly business people who simply don't have the time to shop," Penyaz said

Penyaz said 15 store clients currently use the personal shopper services, including Alyona Doletskaya, editor in chief of Russian Vogue, and Ksenia Makhnenko, editor in chief of Domovoi magazine.

In the meantime, the boutique distributes cards providing potential customers with a personal shopper crash course.

"It all begins with a phone call to Personal Touch Consulting," reads one of the cards. "During the first meeting, our professional consultant will help you determine the only correct strategy for building your wardrobe."

After an initial consultation, the personal shopper usually visits the customer's home to check out the closet--either to say what must go or to offer advice on how to coordinate what's there and buy what is lacking.

"It is important for us to understand what the person wants and what we can offer her," Penyaz said.

The personal shopper will later accompany the customer on shopping trips, help in selecting the right outfit for any occasion and fill her in on the latest arrivals, trends and sales. The shopper also makes solo trips, and upon returning from the front lines of fashion reports back to the client on issues such as manicures (where to get them) and heels (how high for each occasion).

"You will not look like a fashion victim," promise the owners of Personal Touch Consulting in another card.

The service isn't limited to Garderob's own selection of clothes. The company plans to cooperate with other luxury boutiques in Moscow and to purchase what's needed from abroad.

The service does not come cheap. A $1,000 monthly retainer fee will get a well-heeled client a personal shopper's unlimited attention. A one-time consultation costs between $200 and $250 an hour. And that's just for the words of advice: The cost of the clothes is additional.

While the average salary in Russia hovers around $160 per month, Personal Touch is not concerned about potential business. "The service will be popular," Penyaz said. "There are a lot of wealthy people in Moscow and personal shopping is quite a new trend."

And if there's one thing Moscow's elite can't get enough of, it's an expensive trend.

Personal Touch Consulting is located at 24 Bolshaya Nikitskaya. 202-2840.