Atmosphere

Trunk-ated

Shopping spree sans fluorescent lights? Yes, please.

November 2009

Credit card in hand, a stylish woman peruses racks of tailored jackets, cozy cardigans, and fitted dresses. Ann Baumgartner, a consultant for the high-end Worth Collection, helpfully assists; she knows what the woman likes and has her sizes on file. The two women aren't shopping at the mall or a Cherry Creek boutique, though—they're in Baumgartner's portraiture studio in Wash Park, which she's temporarily converted into a private trunk show.

Designer trunk shows—so named because clothing collections once were transported from the designer's studio to stores in large trunks—have long been considered a luxury for the privileged few, who get to call dibs on the most coveted designs. They're still hardly for the faint-of-budget, and extravagance is hard to justify these days, but the one-stop-shop concept is appealing to women whose careers, social lives, and families demands prohibit daylong shopping bonanzas.

Here's how it works: Local representatives of collections like Worth and Etcetera host quarterly appointment-only events at private locations so clients can preview and order the season's styles without ever setting foot in a store. If the items are in stock, the consultant usually delivers them personally within five days. "The trunk show model is growing here in Denver," says Rebecca Lawrence, another Worth consultant, "because women appreciate the convenience and the privacy of this type of shopping experience."