DeVos' Fashions In Vogue, Growing

December 3, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Jennifer Garner, Sharon Stone, Paris Hilton and Catherine Bell are just a few of the notable celebrities that have worn her creations.

But Golden Globe winner Kim Cattrall is probably the most noteworthy for having worn a Pamella Roland design.

The "Sex and the City" star sported the gown on the nationally televised Emmy award show in September and then gave its creator an unexpected plug.

Pamella DeVos is that creator. She has owned and operated Pamella Roland for nearly three years now, having opened the high-end fashion business in February 2002, and has seen a 40 percent jump in sales this year over last year.

DeVos designs daywear, evening wear, and resort wear made of luxurious fabrics that are imported from France and Italy. Her latest creations are sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Au Courant, to name a few across the country, and at Daniel's in the Terrazzo shopping center locally. Her line has also gone international, with fine shops in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia carrying her designs.

"It's been amazing. I didn't expect this growth. This was something that I always wanted to do and said, 'Let's see what happens.' Then it took off," said DeVos last week.

"Just from last season, we've already increased our sales by 40 percent."

Twenty-five of the nation's top retailers now carry Pamella Roland merchandise, with Nordstrom and Kleinfeld the most recent big names to come aboard. The firm produces three complete lines a year at its production facility in Montreal, while a sales office is located on West 57th Street in New York.

Pamella Roland competes with the biggest names in the industry, like Valentino, Chanel and Armani. Yet DeVos won the prestigious Gold Coast Fashion Award for her Fall 2003 collection, which honored her as the top fashion designer in the Midwest.

"I actually received the award this year," she said.

Another big moment for DeVos came after Cattrall was seen in her evening dress. Two days after the Emmy broadcast a $250 copy of her $6,000 dress showed up in a knock-off fashion show.

"We were knocked off," said DeVos. "Someone said to me that wasn't very nice. But I said, 'Believe me, it is nice because they were also knocking off Chanel."

Right now, DeVos is promoting her Spring 2005 collection with 18 trunk shows lined up in December and January. Thirteen of her shows are set for Saks Fifth Avenues around the country and three are at Neiman Marcus stores.

"We always talk about how wonderful our fabrics are; they are top fabrics. We have the same fabrics as the high-end designers. We go to the same mills to buy our fabrics. In fact, we have a fabric that Dolce & Gabbana has. But because we have the U.S. rights on it, they are not able to sell it in the United States," said DeVos, who has three children, is married to Dan DeVos, and still remains active in the community.

"When we're in a store we sit with Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, that is probably who I would compare us to."

DeVos said her strongest customer bases are on the West Coast and in the South. Denver and Atlanta are two of Pamella Roland's top markets.

"We have been able to fill a niche in a store that they didn't have. Some of these lines have prices that are outrageous. Our prices are a little bit lower, yet we have the same quality. We have been lucky. Women love our fashions," she said.

"We have been told that we are the most requested designer for a trunk show within the Saks Fifth Avenue organization around the country and we have a huge reorder business with Neiman Marcus."

Pamella Roland has 23 employees in Montreal and six on the sales staff in Manhattan.

DeVos said her sister-in-law, Betsy DeVos, will wear one of her designs next month to President Bush's inauguration festivities, an event that may also find Laura Bush and her daughters dressed in Pamella Roland creations.

If the First Lady and the first daughters are widely photographed in designer gowns by DeVos, the impact for her business next year could top the exposure Cattrall gave her firm this year.

"She was everywhere in our dress. Kim Cattrall was in Us, People, In Style, Marie Clare, and even the National Enquirer," said DeVos with a laugh.

"Starr Jones stopped her and asked what she was wearing and Kim said she was wearing a Pamella Roland. We were so excited to see that she had it on because just the day before she was going to wear a Valentino. That's when we felt we'd made it."    

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