H&M Michigan Avenue Re-opening. An Interview with Stylist Robert Verdi

Chicago shoppers waiting in line to check out the remodeled H&M

H&M, Hennes & Mauritz, on Michigan Avenue reopened today, April 17, unveiling a newer, brighter shopping experience for Chicago consumers. As Sanna Lindberg, H&M’s U.S. manager explained, "Since opening in 2003, we have built a friendship and level of trust with consumers in Chicago. We’re always inspired by how well shoppers in this city interpret style and make each look their own." And apparently Chicago shoppers are equally inspired by H&M’s new collection: the line to enter the store was almost 4 blocks long!

Celebrity stylist (and H&M fanatic) Robert Verdi was at the opening, discussing spring trends and the new H&M collection, a tribute to the Finnish textile company, Marimekko. I was lucky enough to steal five minutes of his time to talk trends, life mottos and Barack Obama.


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Robert Verdi and me

SCS: What is your favorite aspect of H&M’s recent tribute to Marimekko?
RV: I’m a victim of pattern. I don’t ascribe gender to inanimate objects. The Marimekko patterns are brave, bold, exciting, yet classic. Marimekko is legendary.

SCS: What trend are you most excited to start seeing, and which trend can you not wait to see go away?
RV: Big flowers are huge this season, very brave. Also, lots of color as well as sheer. While the shift dress is still in, the baby doll dress is out. Women buy clothes that makes them feel sexy, clothing is about seduction. When women wear baby doll dresses with an empire waist, they tend to let themselves go.

SCS: Where is your favorite place to shop?
RV: H&M, of course, and Armani Exchange. And Benetton, I’ve been shopping there forever. I love seeing the reinvention of things, like the royal blue suits the Carringtons wore on Dynasty. I love seeing trends come back in a fresh way.

SCS: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
RV: "Along the way there are people who might not want to help you, but they will never stop you." Also, and I can’t remember if it was Rhoda or Mary Tyler Moore who said this, "I want to be able to be in a room alone and enjoy the company." Something that people always tell us and we never seem  to listen to is "just be yourself". After auditioning for the role of Nigel in The Devil Wears Prada, a friend asked why I didn’t just go in there and be myself.* Perhaps with age we eventually become comfortable doing that.

SCS: Barack, Hilary or John McCain?
RV: I am a democrat, so I will support either Barack or Hilary. I think they both have tremendous qualities. Hilary has experience, but Barack has charisma. Barack Obama makes people who don’t speak English want to understand what he is saying.

Our five minutes had turned into twenty and Robert couldn’t have been more gracious, charming, or fun to chat with. I look forward to seeing what he does next!

—Emilie Furda for Second City Style

*Stanley Tucci, who played Nigel in the film, has suggested the role was more or less based on Robert himself.

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