Five days after the star-studded grand opening of her new Nardos Design studio in New York City, fashion designer Nardos Imam's feet still hadn't touched the ground.
"It is a dream come true, honestly," Imam says by phone from the airport, en route home to Dallas. "I'm still floating from excitement."
On February 17, the luxury fashion house officially opened the doors to its second storefront, and one with an iconic address: 807 Madison Ave., New York. Yes, that Madison Avenue known historically as a fashion and shopping playground for the rich and famous around the world. The space previously had housed a Lanvin store.
The five-floor boutique has more than 5,600-square-feet, which is nearly double Nardos' original location in Dallas. The studio showcases Nardos' custom and ready-to-wear eveningwear collections, as well as the brand's just-launched line of handbags, belts, and other high-end leather accessories. There's also the custom couturier, for which Nardos is known, and a by-appointment bridal suite.
Although she'd harbored an idea for a New York store, Imam says the vision crystallized during the pandemic. She already had a coterie of clientele from the East Coast who'd fly cross-country to her Dallas studio. (In fact, just 40 percent of her business is from Texas, she says.) A New York expansion made sense.
"When COVID came, and when I walked around New York and there were a lot of stores shut down, I just said this is the right time," she says. "It was a brave move, but worked out."
She says she was lucky to be able to fly back and forth from Dallas regularly and to work with the landlord, construction crew, manufacturers, and Nardos teams both in Dallas and New York to bring the store to life.
The result is a stunning, light-filled space filled with gorgeous gowns, ready-to-wear designs, and accessories.
"The space is adorned with marble-inspired flooring, floor to ceiling mirrors, and multiple sitting rooms to help shoppers experience Nardos’ elegance, grace, femininity, and sophistication firsthand," notes Retail Touchpoints.
Another thing Nardos Design is known for: Color — and she's bringing it in spades.
"They needed some colorful things, and we're bringing color from Texas," she jokes, adding that of course, she'll have the chic black dresses that New Yorkers love, too.
The store's opening-night party drew a dizzying crowd of publishers, influencers, and representatives from the likes of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, and The Knot, who were buzzing about the store. "I think New York was looking for something fresh," she says.
Imam was also joined by her biggest supporters — her family — and close friends and clients like Kameron Westcott (of Real Housewives of Dallas fame), who traveled from Dallas for the party. "It was an amazing," she says. "I was floating the whole night."
Imam now plans to split her time between Dallas and New York. While she has an apartment in New York, a full-time move won't happen, as "home" is Dallas, where her husband and kids — ages 8 and 13 — are happy and thriving. Her "angel" husband and her faith — "which has taken me through all this" — are the reasons she's been able to live out her dreams since she emigrated from her native Eritrea after high school, Imam says.
She, of course, wants to continue growing her businesses — but slowly and deliberately.
"We're happy with what we have right now," she says. "We just launched a bag line and a belt line, so we're gonna focus on those things and focus on New York and Dallas, and then the rest, we'll see," she says. "In two years, ask me [my plans] again and I may have a different answer."
"I'm just so grateful for Texas, for all the support," she adds. "I'm so grateful for everything."