Style HQ: Inside Moda Operandi's Chic Office

It's no surprise that at Moda Operandi — the only e-commerce site where you can pre-order designer looks months before they hit stores — office employees define the art of chic dressing. From its inception in 2010, the Lauren Santo Domingo and Taylor Tomasi Hill-helmed company has blossomed into a veritable force in luxury shopping, giving clients the chance to shop hot-off-the-runway (literally) looks from the comfort of a desk chair.
To be an M'O girl (employee or shopper) means to be forward-thinking, anticipating style trends before magazines call them, and curating a closet from the same covetable selection as celeb and editor alike. And, in this exclusive inside look inside the dot-com's headquarters, one thing is clear: The behind-the-scenes ensembles are as chic as the merchandised trunk shows you can shop right.now. (That is, if you've got the dough to drop on the goods.) For the rest of us, click through to meet the team behind one of the world's most exclusive sites.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Indre Rockefeller, director of ready-to-wear

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
"Things that challenge me."

What's the last big purchase you made? 
"I just received a notification that the 3.1 Philip Lim pink neoprene coat I pre-ordered from the fall runway is ready! I have been waiting for this moment for months."

What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work? 
"Travel with colleagues always brings out the funniest and craziest moments, especially towards the end of a long fashion month. Let’s just say Parisians know more Disney songs than I would have imagined."

Valentino dress, Celine shoes.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Even the office mixes patterns!
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Tell us about the piece that got away.
"Delpozo’s Painted Tulip Dress got away from me. I noticed it at the Delpozo Fall '13 show, but pre-ordered another dress, in a beautiful fire-engine red, from that collection. A few months later, I had the opportunity to wear the tulip dress on a shoot. Putting it on sent me down a spiral of regret for not having ordered both dresses. Every time I come across the photo, I think about how and when I will be able to find the tulip dress again. I still have hope. "

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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
"I’ve learned that the pace of a creative entrepreneurial environment, while daunting, offers incredible opportunities to test new concepts and think outside the box."

What has been your career trajectory getting to where you are now in the company and what's one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year?
"Much of my early training was in the visual and performing arts. I was a professional ballet dancer for several years, and worked in the contemporary art world when I first moved to New York. In fashion, I worked at Vogue as an assistant to the Editor-in-Chief and later as a Fashion Director for an online luxury retailer. In order to balance my creative experiences, I took two years to get my MBA from Stanford Business School. My goal for the next year is to continue absorbing as much as possible, especially when it comes to seeing new designer talent and learning about the mechanics of a rapidly growing company."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Indre and Patrick sit down for a meeting, surrounded by mood boards, reference swatches, and books.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
A small sneak peek of the eye candy to come on the site!
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Patrick Devlin, buyer

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
"Easy and simple - no one wants to see a 6'2'' guy in a three-piece suit, a bow tie, and skinny jeans every day."

What's the last big purchase you made? 
"A Thom Browne briefcase."

What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work? 
"Last year I flew to Paris to hand-deliver an $11,000 fur coat to one of our best clients, in her French home — it was a weekend I won't forget in a hurry."

Acne shoes, Jil Sander blazer, J Brand jeans, Liberty Print shirt.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Danielle Prescod, fashion editor

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
"Fly girl meets Sally Draper."

What's the last big purchase you made? 
"An oversized checkered JW Anderson sweater from Moda Operandi was my last big purchase. The last little purchase I made was a vintage wicker purse that I bullied my mom into buying me. No one ever asks about the little ones."

Simone Rocha jacket, Betina Ocampo T-shirt, J Brand jeans.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Danielle's jacket matches the bright pink of this clutch, on set.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
We'll take 'em all!
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work? 
"My first fashion week with Moda Operandi, Taylor Tomasi Hill and I arrived very late to the Preen show where everyone was already seated — everyone. It was at the IAC Building where there are only seats — bleacher seats, at that — accessible only by the actual catwalk. That was my first and last time walking a runway, and I probably won't ever forget the burning shame...I mean, the experience."

What has been your career trajectory getting to where you are now in the company and what's one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year? Five years?
"When I first started at Moda Operandi, I was an assistant editor and there were only 29 other employees. We've grown so much since then and I am thrilled to still be here with everyone on our amazing team. I've gotten the opportunity to style, write, and now learning all about retail. It's very exciting to see what Moda's going to do next."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
"You always have to elevate."

A trio of Catbird, Annelise Michaelson, and Tom Binns rings.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Tell us about one piece that got away.
"The Rochas Spring 2013 collection blew me away and I wanted to pull the trigger so badly on a pre-order for one of the finale skirts. But, at upwards of two months rent, and no real occasion to wear it to, I balked. Anyway, then suddenly gay marriage is legalized and my social calendar is chock full of events — so I'll always be a little disappointed that I didn't score that skirt."

J.W Anderson shoes.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
An in-office studio allows each piece to be captured, perfectly.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Bettina Santo Domingo, media manager
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Describe your personal aesthetic in 5 words or less.
"Bright, colorful and eclectic."

What's the last big purchase you made?
"I preordered this Stella Jean made exclusively for Moda Operandi. I love not only her designs, but also that she works with the ITC. The organization connects designers to artisans in Africa and Haiti and believes that work enables women to grow in confidence and gain respect."

What's one piece that got away?
" I’ve been smacking myself for not preordering this Rochas dress. I haven’t been able to find this exact version anywhere else—major regret."

Aurelie Bidermann cuff, Natural Chloe sandals, Stella Jean dress.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work?
"Funny, crazy things often happen to us. That's why we started making the Fashion Week recap videos each season (and in every city); we wanted to show the fun moments in-between shows and appointments. From learning to dance samba in Brazil to jumping into a moving car on the quai with Taylor and Hayley (very James Bond), we’re always having a good time. Taylor and Indre are always being photographed, but videos bring out their personalities in ways that photos can't."

What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
"Don't be a "no" person. The first thing I learned from Taylor was to exhaust all options before giving up; there's always another way."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What has been your career trajectory getting to where you are now in the company and what's one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year? Five years?
"I was initially brought in for one video, then another, and then another … and 40 videos later, I'm still here! We have a couple projects in the works that I'm really excited about. I've been focused on showing the craftsmanship of certain brands we carry; I just went to Madrid to visit the Delpozo atelier and I can't wait for that video to come out. I like the idea of connecting the women who buy the clothes to the people who make them."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Jennifer Blaber, producer/studio manager

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
"Functional, forward, off-beat yet polished."

What's the last big purchase you made? 
"A Golden Goose Leather Jacket."

J.W Anderson sweater, MSGM skirt, Etro shirt, Geox shoes, Warby Parker glasses.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
We're envious of Jennifer's tidy but fashionable desk!
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's one piece that got away?
"I was shopping at an annual NY-based sample sale that is always a mad house. I was feeling a bit disenchanted over the selection that year, when I then noticed a stock boy rolling a rack with a crop of returns on it. The most gorgeous Givenchy tuxedo jacket with a cut-out back that was linked together by delicate draped fringe was on the end of the rack. It was so gorgeous, it basically had a glowing halo of light around it. Being an overly polite sample sale shopper, I approached the stock boy carefully, trying to conceal my eager eyes. I began to stutter out the words for permission to snag it from his rack. My inquiry was then interrupted by the most ravenous sample sale shopper — this destroyer of a woman — (actually, a really cute blonde) who snatched the jacket from the rack! I swear I saw two strands of the fringe catch and ping out of their seams in the midst of her aggression. I turned to confront the jacket snatcher, but it was no use. She was off and in line to purchase it. It was so amazing that there was absolutely no need to try it on."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work? 
"A certain supermodel came into the studio for a dress fitting. She put on the dress, turned on Beyonce & Jay Z's 'Crazy In Love' and mimicked the famous dance routine almost perfectly. It was amazing and hysterical all at the same time. Needless to say, the dress passed the dance test."

What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
"Deem projects successes or failures, learn from them, and move on."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What has been your career trajectory getting to where you are now in the company and what's one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year? Five years?
"My trajectory to Moda Operandi is probably not the most typical. I started my career in high finance at Merrill Lynch after studying International Business. I was not fulfilled, suffered a personal tragedy and felt I needed to make a serious change in my career path. I had always loved fashion and had some exposure to the industry in college while modeling on the side. In order to ease in, I accepted a position at a multi-brand luxury boutique in the accounting department and was able to then follow my passions internally. After landing a position in the web department, I honed my digital skills until I found MO. This is an interesting and exciting place to be. The company is growing so quickly, and I can only hope to continue to grow with it and watch it evolve."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Amanda Doll Sheppard and Lucia Tait, senior stylists

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
ADS: "Masculine cuts with unique accessories."
LT: "Polished simplicity featuring deliberate drama."

What's the last big purchase you made? 
ADS: "Celine brogues."
LT: "I'm waiting for my Derek Lam Glove Leather Skirt, which I pre-ordered for Fall on Moda!"



On Amanda: Boucha Jarrar trousers and vest, Celine shoes. On Lucia: Valentino dress.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work? 
ADS: "Lucia and I run a by-invite only, private styling service, located in the office, called Salon Moda. There have been quite a few times that I've had to pry a client out of a snug dress with a difficult zipper. A glass of champagne to relax during these wardrobe malfunctions never hurts!"
LT: "Watching the fittings for the Met gala, which took place in Salon Moda. It was a flurry of designers, supermodels and actresses, concentrated just three feet from our desks!"
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
ADS: "Working in the digital space, our inclination is to email. The best advice I can give is that in-person, interoffice conversations not only save time, they also help you present and absorb information much more clearly. We do the same with our clients — instead of a million emails back and forth, they all have our personal numbers. Second best to face-to-face is a phone call."
LT: "Amanda is right! For our international clients, we are even available on What's App, Viber, etc., allowing us to communicate in real time. In addition, a personal touch never goes overlooked and follow up the best way to cultivate long-lasting relationships. Remember birthdays and send a note or small gift, inquire about recent trips or events, just check in and say hello!"
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Can you say "mood board?!"
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Laura Vidrequin, assistant buyer

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
"I often call my dress code 4X4 — ready for any situation or any occasion. I don't wear any jewelry besides a watch and my make up is hand cream."

Thom Browne shirt, Givenchy pants.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
"Perseverance is the right way — I came to NYC for a weeklong holiday after I had moved back Paris, but I just knew Moda Operandi was the place I wanted to be. I made it my mission to get in the door. After a whirlwind day of interviews, I landed my dream job."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What has been your career trajectory getting to where you are now in the company and what's one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year?
"I started a few months ago at Moda and have already been a part of our biggest project to date — there are very exciting things ahead. I'm looking forward to starting a new season and being a part of our boutique business growth."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Elizabeth Cordry, director of product

Describe your personal aesthetic in five words or less. 
"Not too complicated."

What is the ethos of Moda Operandi and how do you see it manifested on a day-to-day basis?
"The ethos is about making the creative vision of the top designers around the world accessible to anyone. It is about empowering customers who love & respect beautiful clothes to build their wardrobes from literally the best of the best. I notice this around the office after a fabulous new collection goes down the runway. We aren't talking about how the looks will be featured in an editorial spread, or which models or celebrities it would look great on. Instead, we are talking about how our customer is going to wear them."

Carven dress, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes.
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
Hard at work!
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the funniest/craziest thing that's happened at work? 
" It has to be when the M'O crew travelled to Kuwait, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi for a series of events. We met so many wonderful women and had a total blast — they certainly know how to have a good time."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What's the biggest lesson you've learned working at Moda that you wish to pass down?
" It would probably be a respect for creativity, combined with old-fashioned hard work and good execution. One is not as valuable without the other, and luckily we have a great combination of both."
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Photographed by Nina Westervelt
What has been your career trajectory getting to where you are now in the company and what's one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year? Five years?
"I started as the Director of Marketing before I moved into product, which gave me a really great understanding of our customer. I have been working on our web platform since January. Although there are so many great features in the pipeline, the most important objective is to make the shopping experience as simple and easy as possible, and present the customer with the best choice of merchandise. Our customer is a busy lady, and we have no intention of slowing her down."
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