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Runway Exclusive

Q&A
Lauren Santo Domingo and Aslaug Magnusdottir by Stewart Shining

By Tali Jaffe

In this fast fashion world where runway looks are online no sooner than models slink out of them, waiting for new fashion to hit the stores can be a frustrating process. And, to the chagrin of a certain sector of shoppers, some of their favorite looks never make it to the retail floor at all. Two such shoppers—Lauren Santo Domingo and Aslaug Magnusdottir—decided to do something about that disconnect, and in the process, launched the company Moda Operandi.

On the eve of their website launch, we caught up with Santo Domingo and Magnusdottir, co-founders of Moda Operandi, to discuss covering the runway from every angle and what to wear to fashion week when you’re eight months pregnant.

What was the impetus for Moda Operandi?
Aslaug Magnusdottir: While working with many fashion designers over the past few years, I frequently heard from them that traditional retailers only purchase small parts of their collections, and that, in many cases, the most special pieces never make it in front of the end consumer.  At the same time, I frequently heard friends complain that they had seen a beautiful dress online that had been featured in a runway show but they were unable to find the dress in stores. This led me to hatch Moda Operandi, where a direct link is created between the designer and the customer so that women can find and secure the pieces they desire most.

Who was the first designer you approached?
Lauren Santo Domingo: The first designer we contacted was Proenza Schouler. As they are an innovative young brand, I had a feeling they would be receptive to the idea. Their support of the concept was really encouraging in getting the idea off the ground.

How did you develop your initial membership list?
LSD: We are a membership-only model and by invitation only. The list started from our close network of friends and family and then some referrals from there.

When did the two of you meet?
LSD: I was brought in as a consultant at Aslaug’s investment company a few years ago. We had discussed various ideas to work on together, but this idea of Aslaug’s was really so exciting for both of us to do together.

About how long did it take for MO to launch from your first concept meetings to live website?
AM: I initially thought of this concept in September 2009 but started working full time on the business in June 2010. We launch this week during New York Fashion Week, so about nine months from conception to launch.

Which shows are you most looking forward to this season?
AM: I am particularly looking forward to the Alexander Wang show as his collection is the first we will be offering to our members.

Do you deploy an MO convoy to cover the shows? Who does it consist of?
LSD: We cover the shows from all fronts. We have a writer and a blogger gathering content for our e-magazine, and we have a film crew getting backstage footage. We also have a fashion director who will be gathering information about trends and relaying that to our personal shoppers who can then advise our members. We will also be shooting in the showrooms... which contributes to our goal of bringing our members a complete, insider view of the shows.

What’s the delivery time like for the pieces to reach the end user?
AM: The delivery time will vary according to the designer and category of product. Typically, our members will receive runway items a few days before they are available at retail stores (if they are available at all). In some cases, we will work with designers to ship specific runway styles or custom made pieces even earlier. 

What will you be wearing this Fashion Week?
LSD: I am eight months pregnant, so I will be wearing flats... for once.
AM: Mostly the same things I always wear: fun dresses, high heels and jewelry to round out every look.

To submit a membership request for Moda Operandi, click below:

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