The world of real-life personal shopping is anything but glamorous. Perhaps you've wondered what it's really like being a personal shopper. Though far from a highly coveted fashion industry job, personal shopping takes a lot of patience, especially when you're dealing with wealthy clients who have no qualms about dropping a cool $1 million on a rare handbag but refuse to drink coffee unless it's heated to their preferred temperature.
Personal shopping isn't only for the rich and famous - plenty of affordable options are available, including free personal shopping services at department stores, including Nordstrom or Topshop. The wealthiest 1%, however, make for the best personal shopper stories - like the kind seen in the movie Personal Shopper, starring Kristen Stewart, and other fashion-focused films.
True tales of shopping for the elite will enlighten and perhaps disturb you. Personal shoppers may not lead the privileged life, but they're certainly well acquainted with it.
Michelle Liberman, head stylist at The Shopping Friend, told Who What Wear about a woman who needed serious shopping therapy after she discovered her extraordinarily wealthy husband was cheating on her. While the budget had no constraints, the woman's life certainly did.
She refused to wear off-the-rack clothing (i.e., she wouldn't try on fancy clothes unless they were custom-made). She also insisted on stylists with good breath and etiquette training. Things got even weirder from there, according to Liberman:
She also wanted to rent dogs for our shopping excursions. I asked her why and she said she was just used to that as part of her image. Next, she requested that each showroom we were to visit set up a private place for her to nibble on snacks - preferably tabbouleh and falafel. Her coffee also had to be served at 165 degrees every time.
Liberman ended up not working with the woman after 10 days of struggling to meet her lengthy list of requirements.
Lauren Bart, a Sydney-based personal shopper, had a few wild requests during her days at Threads Styling, the largest indie fashion concierge service in Europe. Bart spoke to Vogue and recounted an incident in which a toddler needed a coveted luxury item to carry around her stuff:
Recently we bought the most beautiful pink velvet micro Chanel bag for a 2-year-old. It was her birthday and she needed something for her Crayolas and Play-Doh. It was priced at well over $2,000. At the time it seemed pretty extravagant until we bought a 5-year-old his first Cartier watch.
Valerie Halfon, owner of New York City-based personal shopping service Shop With Val, had an uncanny experience while searching for cheese. According to Halfon, a woman from Saudi Arabia messaged Shop With Val because she had trouble finding Formaggio, a certain kind of fresh mozzarella, in her home country. Halfon took on the task, thinking it would be no problem.
After striking out at every grocery store, Halfon learned that the specific cheese was on backorder through a grocery delivery service, so she waited two weeks for it to arrive. One of the delivered boxes had a cracked container that leaked oil everywhere, including on Halfon's fancy blouse before a night out. She had to leave a fancy fashion show to buy 10 pounds of dry ice that would preserve the cheese and prevent it from spoiling.
She spent more than $500 - between mailing costs and the actual cheese - to get it to Saudi Arabia. But only two of the boxes arrived in good condition; the rest of the cheese was inedible.
"Now I know to stick to fashion - I love my cheese, but I'll never look at mozzarella balls the same way again," Halfon said.
Personal shoppers can put in such long hours that sometimes the stores they're shopping in close while they're dutifully at work. Joan Kaufman told Who What Wear about an unexpected lock-in at Bergdorf's when a client couldn't make up her mind:
She was taking so long making selections one day that I was going to miss picking up my son from school. The solution? I asked if she would send her limousine to pick him up and bring him to us, which she did.
We ended up being in Bergdorf's for so long that the store actually closed while we were still inside, and we couldn't get out - my son was crying out of fear and we had to have a guard come let us out.