Zug, Switzerland–Few would have expected a designer who worked for Hermès and befriended Juergen Teller to set up shop in a quiet Swiss lakeside town.
But bespoke women’s wear designer Sara Schlumpf has brought her love of colour and red-carpet fashion to the wardrobes of the discerning buyers of Zug, a place best known for its kirschtorte and tax breaks.
Pedestrians stop and stare at the window displays of her boutique in the heart of the picturesque old town, opposite a fairytale fountain, where the upmarket designs transport shoppers to a world where fashion dreams come true.
Sara makes clothing, mostly exquisite evening wear for modern-day princesses, better known as the power dressers of Zug, the excited brides to be and the wives of the global elite.
As you enter her store, the rails are packed with garments, all designed by Sara and sewn by her two seamstresses, working in an atelier in Baar just 10 km away.
Each item seems to be patiently waiting to be introduced to its rightful owner. Quality, colour and movement are the pillars of her designs, with customers lured inside by the colours, then seduced by the quality of the fabrics and the intricately thought out designs.
Sara has the knack of making customers feel privileged and pampered. “An outfit should make you feel special, strong and yourself,” says Sara, who sometimes feels as if she’s a surrogate therapist, listening to the desires and indecisions of her clients. She uses her sewn art to help transform them, so that “suddenly they feel more beautiful and wonderful”.
Originally from Zug, Sara studied fashion at Studio Berçot in Paris, where the teachers encouraged her to find her personality through the creative freedom they offered.
She landed a stage at Hermès working under Tomas Maier, which allowed her to perfect her couture skills and gain access to the maison’s artisan and material sourcing contacts book.
Marie Rucki the director of Studio Berçot, worked hard to get Sara an apprenticeship with Azzedine Alaïa. However it proved impossible to convince the Tunisian designer, renowned for his preference for working on his own, to accept an assistant – no matter how gifted.
That disappointment proved to be a springboard for Sara’s own career. She set up her own label in Paris, selling in showrooms before moving back to Zug in German-speaking Switzerland.
She quickly determined to work on a small scale after receiving orders from a fashion fair in Germany. In production, her smaller volumes were turned down by ateliers in the Sentier area of Paris, known for its multicultural textile production and garment making, because of their strict minimums of 100 pieces per colour!
Fortunately, her mishap forced her to work on her own account and gave her the possibility to make no compromises in the brand’s quality and direction. Sara is a strong believer in true luxury, and says one reason why she has built such a loyal clientele is because “they can feel it is luxury; they understand that, yes, it is worth the money”.
All clothing bearing the Sara Schlumpf label is lined in silk (no synthetics to be found here), with the designer stressing that “design always has to make sense and be about quality”.
Sara is the perfect example of a boutique owner who has succeeded in fashion business by staying true to her vision and principles of excellence, and it has helped her build a desirable address book of loyal clients.
The recognition she receives combined with the fact her business recently turned 20 proves that there are alternatives to working for big fashion conglomerates.
Find out more: www.saraschlumpf.ch