Duchess of Dupont: Christina Arenas
Above: Christina Arenas, owner and founder of Duchess of Dupont. Photo by Erika Delgado Photography.
“Life is too short to do what everyone tells you to do.” – Christina Arenas, owner of Duchess of Dupont
Miami-born Christina Arenas has a natural talent for design, strong principles and a big work ethic. She didn’t go to fashion school to hone her abilities, those she developed over time with a little help from her maternal grandmother, an interior designer and seamstress.
“We would spend countless summers sewing and cooking, and during the school year we’d work on art projects, Halloween costumes, and other outfits,” said Christina. “She really gave a push in the right direction regarding the appreciation high-quality fabrics and workmanship.”
Now Christina has launched her own online lingerie boutique that sells fine lingerie, swimwear and loungewear. The store, Duchess of Dupont, recently celebrated its grand opening with the intent to change the way American woman shop for intimate apparel.
Above: Lise Charmel.
However, Christina didn’t always imagine herself as a boutique owner. After college, she decided to attend law school and she began funneling all of her passion and energy into a successful career in litigation and health policy. But she became dissatisfied with the path she was on, unable to find enough creative expression in these industries to fulfill her. “When working for large corporate law firms, it’s a do what you are told, assembly line model,” she says.
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She began blogging as a way to share her passions. She covered topics such as fashion trends, interior design and travel under the pen name, The Duchess of Dupont. Gradually the blog grew into other avenues for Christina to express herself. She had the opportunity take on a few design projects—more recently teaming up with local dress studios in Washington, DC to design her own wedding gown and several other day dresses.
“I’m pro made in the US and Europe.”
While Christina grew up in a fashion-focused Miami, she has found her current home in Washington, DC to be more conservative and less fashion-conscious. She says the retail market offers little variety in intimates and she has struggled to find independent shops that fit her needs. She adds that when she does shop in department stores, the experience is lacking. “Often they have to run someone down from another department to get help. And the service is not personalized.”
Her online boutique is the answer to tired, lackluster shopping experiences. It is a curated collection that features independent designers and styles made in the U.S and Europe. Her offerings are unique and colorful, and her service is unmatched.
When you are shopping at Duchess of Dupont, you can be assured that you are getting the best quality garments. “I’m pro made in the US and Europe,” Christina says. “To the point where I try not to wear anything made in China. That’s hard to do, especially in intimate apparel because most of it is made there. I’m a person of principle and don’t like to veer off from certain principles.”
Quality and Price Balance
Above: Paul Stuart Butterfly Robe.
To make the store affordable to many, Christina works to incorporate items in a wide price range. For example, a 100 percent silk Paul Stuart robe sells for $595. The robes are made in New York City at the designer’s NYC Flagship on Madison Avenue and the styles boast an array of vivid colors and prints.
More affordable lines include Noblesse Oblige, a collection of contemporary intimates made in Bulgaria. Duchess of Dupont carries their Havana Frenchie Bottom ($44.99) and Havana Wallpaper Rose Multi-Way Bustier ($59.99) among other styles.
Above: Velvette lingerie.
Velvette is another collection that Christina says strikes a balance between quality and price. “I think that brand can be targeted to Millennials—those that want something French and something cool,” she says. She stocks bra and panty sets from the designer, including the Elsa underwire bra. It features a floral print with blue hues and retails for $79.99 (bra) and $64.99 (panty). She also carries a selection of Velvette swimwear styles. The Elodie One Piece Bathing Suit is a black and white strapless suit that features a large bow detail on the neckline. The suit retails for $139.99.
In Stock & Standing Apart
“I can tell customers how each items fits and that’s the most beneficial thing.”
One of the brands that Christina is the most excited about is Janira, a Spanish underwear and shapewear line made in Barcelona. The company is known for using high-quality fabrics and the latest technological innovations. Christina says she loves the line because it fills a void in her own closet. “Most women have issues finding the right size bra,” she says. “I have issues with underwear. My issue is with finding sexy underwear with coverage and their underwear is just great for that.”
Christina has all of her inventory in stock, so she can easily answer any questions about any of the items. She says this sets her apart from other sites that drop-ship items. “With those online stores, they don’t have the items right next to them,” she says. “I can tell customers how each items fits and that’s the most beneficial thing.”
Above: Noblesse Oblige.
Any customer service inquires are directed personally to Christina, who is happy to speak at length with customers to help them find the right style and fit for them. She also has a flexible return policy, and exchanges for some special orders.
To promote the new boutique, Christina is planning a series of pop-up shops. A joint-vendor event, which will be held at her penthouse in Washington, DC, is in the works for this July. She is also planning a pop-up shop in Miami, her hometown, this Fall.
Bring out your inner Duchess
Above: the Great Eros.
For those who wish for a more personal experience, Christina will open her Washington, DC home for a private shopping appointment. “I know women like to see something and try it on before they buy it,” she says. For these appointments Christina speaks with each customer prior to her visit to learn what she is looking for, what her style is and what size she wears. Then Christina sets up a rack with the requested styles, as well as some extra items that she thinks are a good fit. “I’m pretty good at knowing what a person likes,” she says.
Christina says that helping women find beautiful intimate apparel garments with high quality construction makes her feel good. She feels these items help bring out the inner Duchess in everyone who wears them. “When I work for the man, I have to do as I’m told,” she says. “But the Duchess can do whatever she wants. I feel great when I’m in that position and it fits well with lingerie. It’s not the clothes you wear to work it’s the clothes that you want to wear outside of work. It’s what you truly are and what you truly want to be like.”