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Extreme Brand Loyalty

Clockwise from top left, Madoff in a cream overcoat from Rodriguez's fall 2004 collection; in her favorite pair of mary janes; in a leather overcoat; with her daughter, Rebecca, in a dress with piping.  

Shana Madoff
Obsession: Narciso Rodriguez
Extravagance: Black

Shana Madoff is standing in the foyer of her Park Avenue apartment, trying on a very understated summer dress from Narciso Rodriguez, when her 41⁄2-year-old daughter, Rebecca, comes bounding in for the fifth time in ten minutes.

“Rebecca,” her mother says, “what color does mommy wear lots of?”

“Black!” the child replies. To say the least, Madoff’s wardrobe is nothing if not practical.

While in law school, Madoff, 33, had seen Rodriguez’s clothes photographed on Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, but it wasn’t until she was shopping at the downtown store Bagutta Life in 2001 that she came across one of his dresses: a slinky black jersey dress that reminded her of Azzedine Alaïa, whose clothes she’d been trying to find with little success. “I just thought it was plain and chic. And for me, that’s the trick. I have to know that I can buy it and be able to put it on in three years.”

Shortly after that, she began to collect Rodriguez’s clothes, mixing and matching his monotone blazers and skirts. Her salespeople at Jeffrey messenger a shipment of Rodriguez’s clothes and shoes to her at the beginning of each season and simply charge her for what she doesn’t return. “If I see something I like, I call around,” explains Madoff, a securities lawyer. “I just don’t have time to shop. I get a little bit aggravated when I go into a store because I could be doing so many other things that are so much more productive. And the salespeople are around the clothes all day. They know them much better than I do.”

She can be quite determined about getting certain items. Last summer, while sitting on Georgica Beach, she was thumbing through Harper’s Bazaar when she stumbled across a tweed Prada bag she knew would go perfectly with her Rodriguez basics. She left her friends and walked down the beach saying she had “to make an important phone call.” She ordered the bag on her cell phone. When it arrived two days later, she came clean to her boyfriend. “That was my important phone call!”

She mentions the ease with which she can transition Rodriguez’s clothes from work to going out. “I can wear one of his jackets and a long skirt to work with a pair of princess heels,” she says, “and at night I’ll unzip the jacket a little, change my shoes, and it’s a cocktail outfit. Or I can throw a pair of jeans in my bag, take the skirt off, and go casual. And with the dresses, you don’t have to do anything. They’re completely versatile.”

Her collection: a black knee-length leather coat from fall 2003; six dresses, three of which feature Rodriguez’s signature piping detailing; a belted trench in tweed; a black knee-length peacoat with a faux-fur collar; a beaded white tank from last fall that she pairs with jeans; a lavender skirt and matching corset from spring 2004; two linen skirt suits with his trademark piping; a black-and-white Chanel-inspired blazer; and four pairs of Rodriguez’s shoes, of which her favorite is a pair of white mary janes with crisscross straps.

“I just think he’s so smart,” she says of Rodriguez. “I love that when you see his clothes, you know they’re chic but you don’t quite know who designed them.”