For Deirdre Quinn, CEO and co-founder of Lafayette 148, there was no doubt where her beloved company should plant roots out west. “South Coast Plaza was the goal, and it’s a family-run business, much like we are,” she says. The flagship boutique was designed with a distinctive West Coast sensibility. The brand’s modern, minimalist aesthetic is reflected in the clean palette, allowing the pieces—curated specifically with the “California career woman” in mind, says Quinn—to be showcased against the limestone storefront and white brick walls.
The timeless, well-constructed designs of Lafayette 148 are only half of its equation for success. CEO for more than two decades, Quinn credits her female-run business to two things. “I believe in my team, and I believe in Emily Smith, our creative director. Emily started with the company in 2002 as a design assistant, and her vision and passion fuel our collection,” she reveals. “She speaks to ladies in the office about what they want or need, and we layer and build the collection that way.” The second part of the success equation: Quinn maintains that the company remains “vertically integrated,” meaning it designs, manufactures and sells its own clothing and apparel—a rare move in the retail landscape these days, but one that ensures high standards of quality.
With 58 sizes available, the New York-bred brand consistently creates must-have pieces. Think suede and cashmere double-face coats, timeless sweaters and hand-embellished dresses that will be refreshed monthly. Known for beautifully stitched suiting, this season Lafayette 148 has teamed rich velvet textures and soft silk suits with equally sumptuous silk shirts. And in true South Coast Plaza fashion, devotees of the brand will find a selection of exclusive pieces offered only at its O.C. outpost. “I want to design chic pieces that women will actually wear, pieces you know you look good in,” adds Smith. “We hope our pieces empower women to feel confident in every aspect of their lives.”