Ever Wanted to Share a Closet with a Kardashian or a Hadid?
Let Janet Mandell dress you like a star.
Let Janet Mandell dress you like a star.
Text: Fred Sahai
You may not have heard of Janet Mandell yet, but your favorite celebrities do—and they swear by her curated selection of designer pieces and archival vintage.
Kourtney Kardashian’s epic Tom Ford x Gucci dress at her family’s annual Christmas Eve party in 2019? That was Janet. Gigi Hadid’s vintage Balenciaga pea coat for her 2018 Mary Poppins costume, or the 80s Chanel suit she wore to Karl Lagerfeld’s funeral? Again, Janet. Priyanka Chopra’s head-to-toe Chanel look at the Burn This opening night on Broadway? If you guessed Janet Mandell, you’d be correct.
Mandell’s clientele includes the Kardashians, the Hadids and Chopra, as well as Whitney Port, Megan Fox and most recently, the queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey, who she outfitted in a crimson Mugler number for an appearance on The Graham Norton show.
With showrooms in Chicago and LA, as well as an online presence, Mandell offers her luxury rental services to celebrity stylists such as Mimi Cuttrell (who styles Chopra, Ariana Grande and the Hadid sisters), Monica Rose (whose clients include Chrissy Teigen, Shay Mitchell and Chanel Iman) and Dani Michelle (who dresses Kourtney Kardashian in JM pieces on the reg) as well as the fashionable gal who wants to look like a million bucks for one night without actually dishing out a small fortune.
Intrigued? We thought you’d be. Janet’s business model functions as follows: you can either browse an impressive selection of show-stopping pieces online or IRL, and rent them for 7 days. And if you’re in LA, you can visit Janet Mandell’s lavish new space at the AKA West Hollywood and work closely with a stylist that’ll tend to your every sartorial need.
Mandell started her company with her husband in 2018, after having been a self-proclaimed fashionista forever. “I loved fashion and influenced a lot of my friends and my peers, so I decided to open a rental business.” This was in Chicago, and though businesses like Rent The Runway offered similar services, Mandell immediately distingued herself from her contemporaries with her carefully curated edit of archival pieces and Versace runway looks. Think lots of Tom Ford-era Gucci and Dior by Galliano.
“We have a lot of Tom Ford Gucci pieces, which are so iconic right now. Everybody wants them. And they come to us because they know that I’ve acquired them.”
One Tom Ford Gucci piece that’s garnered a lot of attention is the aforementioned red dress that Kourtney Kardashian wore at her family’s holiday party last year.
“Every time I pick up that dress and people see it, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, is that the dress Kourtney wore to the holiday party she hosted?’ And I say yes, it is. It’s the actual dress that she wore. These are things that create more memories for me. It creates value for us. And it’s fun to tell these stories,” says Mandell.
And it’s true, Mandell’s business does offer a kind of storytelling through clothes. Since her pieces are constantly rented and re-used, the garments live through each person that wears them. “It’s like a book, there are chapters of where a piece has been through the last five or 10 or even 20 years,” says Mandell. The cycle always continues with people renting statement pieces that they might normally never wear twice if they purchased them. And in Mandell’s business, nothing gets thrown out because someone gets tired of it. “Sometimes when you have a vintage piece that looks like it’s been worn, that creates a history, it creates culture,” she adds.
On top of championing a sustainable model, Mandell makes luxury attainable, and she’s trying to destigmatize the rental. “Let’s be honest. Most people can’t afford to buy a $5,000 dress every time they go somewhere. But maybe they can rent it for $400. Why would you want to spend $5,000 on a dress you’re going to wear once? It doesn’t make a monetary sense. So I want people to acknowledge it. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” she says. In the end, she wants to make sure people feel good about what they’re renting, “We want people to feel happy and good about what they’re wearing for that special event that they’re going to,” she adds.
One thing Mandell didn’t foresee when starting her business is how instrumental celebrity stylists would be to her success. About 90% of her business comes from celebrity stylists, which is why Janet Mandell’s new partnership with luxury extended stay AKA works out so well for the brand. “The time [stylists] have is very limited. So when we have the staff and the partnership that we have at AKA, they’re helping us run our business because they have the staff to fulfill the drop offs and the pickups, making it very easy for us”
Regular people can also enjoy the luxuries of Janet Mandell x AKA when booking an appointment at the space, from meeting rooms to snacks and drinks by the pool. And as a business owner, Mandell thinks AKA’s spaces are especially accommodating to working individuals: “They made it really easy for people to have their own business from their home and also entertain their clients as well.”
Elana Friedman, the Chief Marketing Officer of AKA, feels the partnership highlights a dedication to offering a unique customer experience that both brands share. “[Mandell] has created a very innovative concept by creating a truly bespoke one-on-one service for her clients, that is extremely personalized,” Friedman tells V, adding “personal and focused attention really do create the highest level of client service.”
As for the actual space in which they receive clients, Friedman explains that they’ve built a minimalist environment for the clothes to speak for themselves: “The pieces that Janet is showcasing are truly one of a kind, and those have to be the showstopper. So our minimal design really is just sort of a beautiful backdrop to that.”
What’s a showstopping piece that Mandell’s particularly excited about acquiring? “We have the Gianni Versace dress that Elizabeth Hurley wore,” she shares, referring to THAT dress, the one that put Hurley on the map when she accompanied then-boyfriend Hugh Grant to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral. A dress so iconic has its own Wikipedia page. And the kicker is, while you may be wondering who’s going to be next in line to rent it, the answer may very well be you.