ILUS is a little NoLita boutique with a brilliant big idea. Recently opened on Elizabeth Street, the shop features an outstanding assortment of women’s dresses available both to borrow and to buy. It’s “luxury on lease,” if you will, and we don’t know how a shopping concept this convenient has gone untapped ’til now!
Owner Linda Pratka recognized the female desire to maintain a diverse fashionable wardrobe on a limited budget, and she filled the void with a boutique where a selection of au courant cocktail dresses and formal gowns can be rented at a fraction of their regular retail prices. ILUS offers a rolling inventory of about 175 unique dresses in sizes 0-10, with borrowing costs falling typically between $60-125 per garment. Which means that $400 Foley + Corinna rouched cocktail dress you’ve been eying for a wedding next month…is $65 for the store’s standard three night rental. And the $795 azalea-colored organza strapless dress with painted flower detail by Badgley Mischka (worn by Carrie Underwood on the red carpet three weeks ago)? That’s just $125.
There’s a fine group of established and emerging designers represented, including Cynthia Rowley, Nicole Miller and Gilles Montezin. Styles range from sequined minis to flowing full-length evening gowns, and most of the present collection is vibrantly colored for summer celebrations. ILUS does carry a few (lovely) black dresses, but why go basic when you can break out a brand new canary yellow cocktail dress? There will be no buyer’s remorse – and it’s too awesomely memorable to wear twice anyways!
Sparkling clutches and evening envelope bags by Catherine Repetti are also available for borrowing, with the same basic terms and conditions as the store’s dresses. ILUS is open seven days a week and accepts dress reservations several weeks in advance. All of the sudden now, forking over a chunk of your month’s rent for a single designer dress seems so… last season.