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People Top 5
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- November 27, 1989
- Vol. 32
- No. 22
Women Are Gobbling Up the Massullo Sisters' Turkey-Feather Coats
And that's making retailers come trotting. With coats and jackets now hitting the racks at Saks Fifth Avenue and I. Magnin stores, as well as at select urban boutiques, the Massullos are looking at sales approaching $2 million this year. "We love the look," says a salesperson at Off Broadway, a New York City shop that specializes in the glittering and daring. "They're exciting and fun." More important: "They're selling."
But there's more to the fluttery wonders than fluff, says Celeste: "There was a need for an alternative to fur, and we've found it." The coats are made in southern Italy—where, the Massullos say, "the quality of workmanship is better"—from "pelts" created by hand-sewing feathers into inch-wide strips. When these strips are sewn together, the effect approaches fox, but the cost of the coat is far lower ($450 for a bolero to $1,200 for a swing coat) than fur. They are also lightweight—one might say light as a feather—and warm. Plus, good news for trendy travelers, they're stuffable. "We've rolled these coats up into traveling bags and toted them all over," says Celeste.
Most of the year, the Massullo sisters, who were raised in Youngstown, Ohio, by father Mario, a physician, and mother Anna Mae, a former teacher, are scattered across the country, pursuing independent careers. Mary-Helene, 31, will soon complete her residency in surgery in Cleveland; Anne-Christine, 30, is an attorney in San Francisco; Michele, 28, is vice president of the company; Lucy, 23, is a medical student in Chicago. But when they meet for business (about twice a year, in Cleveland), they claim to be quintessential birds of a feather. "We are very much a team," says Celeste, citing the creative flair of Mary-Helene and Anne-Christine while giving herself credit, along with Michele, for marketing. Lucy, meanwhile, acts as manager, "getting everyone's opinion."
For the near future, the consensus is in: more feathers. Next season the Massullos hope to add seven more styles to the seven they now offer. "Different lengths, different shapes," says Celeste. Some day, she adds, the sisters would like to dress not only women but men and children too. For starters, of course, they could just dress Thanksgiving dinner.
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