“A writer publishes to be read; then hopes the readers are affected by the words, hopes that their opinions are changed or strengthened or enlarged, or that readers are pushed to notice something that had not stopped to notice before. All my reporting life, I have thrown small pebbles into a very large pond, and have no way of knowing whether any pebble caused the slightest ripple. I don’t need to worry about that. My responsibility was the effort.”
No records indicate whether Imelda Marcos has visited Daslu, the world’s most luxurious store, located in Sao Paolo.
But then again, who knows?
The woman with the famous footwear fetish may have already gone on a secret Brazilian shopping expedition when she was powerful enough to commandeer jumbo jets at a snap of a finger.
In any case, easy access to planes wouldn’t have mattered that much to Daslu’s visitors, including imeldific individuals.
For all its offerings — three car dealerships, a yacht broker, and yes, haute couture for men and women — Daslu doesn’t have its own private airport.
Or at least not just yet.
Its high-flying clients don’t seem to mind.
After all, they can always touch down on the five-storey building’s helipad, safe from Sao Paolo’s notorious carjackers, known for stealing autos at gunpoint, even in broad daylight.
Customers who still prefer to go by car can do so as long as they pass muster at not just one but two of the compound’s gates, designed to keep out the have-nots and the hoi polloi.
Indeed, security and privacy are just a few of the many things that set Daslu apart from regular luxury establishments around the world.
Take Daslu’s second floor, where the women’s section is located: It doesn’t have a fitting room. Female clients can just strip off their garments and try on dresses in any corner since no males—whether customers or employees—are allowed on the floor.
“It’s natural for Brazilians. You aren’t ashamed if men aren’t around,” said Eliana Tranchesi, Daslu’s owner, as quoted by Dana Thomas in her book entitled Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster (Penguin Books, 2007).
Established in 1958, Daslu began in the living room of Lucia Piva de Albuquerque, Tranchesi’s mother, who sold clothes and accessories she brought from abroad since Brazil at that time was closed to imports.
Its origins explain its name: Daslu is Portuguese for in Lu’s house.
Even though advertisement was only through word of mouth, the store would become immensely popular, later occupying a whole stretch of 23 houses — either rented or owned — in the posh neighborhood where it began.
When parked limousines of the rich and famous began to clog the streets and upset the neighbors, management decided to move to an area just a few blocks away from its old location.
Some fifty years later, Daslu has certainly outgrown its origins.
Besides featuring a Japanese restaurant (considered as the city’s best), Daslu also has a champagne bar, a hairdresser, a bank, a pharmacy, a stationery store, a wedding chapel, and a ballroom, among others.
Of course, it also has men’s and children’s departments on the third and fourth floors.
By far, the store is famous for its Dasluzettes — female shopping assistants from Brazil’s rich families who offer personalized services to each of the store’s 70,000 clients.
“The salesgirls live the life the customers live,” Tranchesi was quoted by the book as saying. “So they understand.”
While Daslu may very well represent the ultimate in luxury shopping, it also stands out as an exception in an industry as bloodthirsty as any.
Or at least it does in Thomas’ view.
Other luxury brands always intend to make a quick buck off its customers, even fooling them as to the provenance of their items, including handbags to which she devotes a chapter. (“Brands that deny outright that their bags are made in China make their bags in China, not in Italy, not in France, not in the United Kingdom,” Thomas says.) But not Daslu.
The store established by Tranchesi’s mother knows and cares about its customers because they are guests, first and foremost.
“Chances are, you’ll run into [Tranchesi] while you are shopping, and she’ll ask you how the kids are, help you pick out a few things, or assist in fittings,” Thomas says of the daughter of Daslu’s founder.
As expected, the personal touch of Daslu is not left unrewarded.
“When you go to Daslu, it’s not to buy a new pair of shoes. It’s to see your friends,” said one customer whose husband owns a local Mercedes dealership. “You can’t find this service anywhere in the world.”
So who says money can’t buy happiness?
Not Daslu customers obviously.