Downtown Q&A: Lauren Wilson, Founder of Luxury Consignment Platform, Dora Maar

by | Aug 17, 2021 | Fashion, Power Women, Street Style

In today’s fashion landscape, influencers are everything.

Influencers have become the new innovators and early adopters that oftentimes will take the place of major mavens from yesteryear, as the runway designers. The beauty of such fashion leaders on the tiny screen is the direct link between them and their followers.

Why do you think influencers’ brand representation is so coveted?

Think about the spike in sales when influencer Kendall Jenner started tagging Alo Yoga in her social media channels, or when Emma Chamberlain nearly made Amazon sell out of yoga pants from one hard Instagram post. It is this kind of philosophy that birthed Lauren Wilson’s Dora Maar. The luxury consignment brand that centers around the link between influencers, their coveted closets, and customers.

Dora Maar ingeniously links these “Muses” of all different walks of life with their customers. Now, followers can own their favorite influencer’s best pieces.

Wilson is changing the game of luxury consignment, with the help of her brilliant concept for Muses that offer up their beloved high-end pieces to be sold on Dora Maar, lovingly nicknamed DoMa. You’ll find that this born and bred brand is reimagining what it means to consign.

Lauren Wilson, Dora Maar’s Founder

Downtown: What is your personal background in fashion?

Lauren Wilson: Fashion has been an integral part of my life on both a personal and professional level. I’ve always felt that fashion is synonymous with storytelling, which in essence is the brand ethos of Dora Maar. Fashion allows one to express themselves and share creativity, emotions, and feelings in ways words cannot. Curating outfits and being thoughtful about the craftsmanship of clothing have always been important to me.

As for my career, following my graduation from USC, my first full-time job in fashion was at Gucci as an assistant in their celebrity PR dept in NYC. After Gucci, I began my Master of Art in Costume Studies from NYU, which I describe as the anthropological study of fashion. I was so passionate about the program and it played a large role in my interest in vintage clothing. Outside of fashion, I also worked in the art world at Christie’s where I was a part of their marketing team for luxury. There, I developed the keen ability to identify the importance of provenance or the origin of a piece of fine art. I realized how this concept of provenance to showcase value and authenticity was missing from luxury fashion in the secondary market. Following Christie’s, I moved back to luxury fashion e-commerce at Moda Operandi. Through the mix of these experiences, my idea for Dora Maar was born.

DT: What is the story behind Dora Maar’s name?

LW: I named my platform after Henriette Theodora Markovitch – also known as Dora Maar – an influential French photographer, painter, and poet. She was depicted in many of Picasso’s paintings, including his famous Portrait of Dora Maar and Dora Maar au Chat. She’s widely known as Pablo Picasso’s ‘muse’ which does play a role in the idea behind my Muse concept. Our Muses are influential to our consumers by providing a human element to buying clothing. That being said, Dora Maar was my point of inspiration for her unprecedented, independent, and fresh perspectives and ways. She challenged the norms through her surrealist art whether it be her paintings or poetry.  With my platform, my mission is to do the same. We’re reimagining our relationship to pre-owned luxury fashion by leveraging the story behind each item through provenance and storytelling.

DT: How many designers do you carry at Dora Maar?

LW: We carry over 300 designers at Dora Maar, from Chanel to Emilia Wickstead and Carolina Herrera. We’ve designed our platform to be extremely user-friendly and serve as the link between influencers and our consumers. We’ve strategized our layout so our customers can be inspired by the apparel and accessories through various lenses. First, consumers can go through a dedicated closet page, carrying the items in a Muse’s closet. Or, they can opt to buy by the designer if they’re specifically looking for a Chanel or Saint Laurent item. We also curate special Edits which are theme-based and always a big hit for our clients. We’re really excited about our recent Bridal Muse Edit, a curated collection of hand-picked favorites for all types of wedding celebrations. We have innovative silhouettes from Huishan Zhang to incredible Balmain pieces.


DT: What does the consignment process look like at Dora Maar?

LW: Dora Maar is a high-touch consignment service, meaning we take all of the logistics in-house. Trust between our Muses and our customers is our number one focus, which is why the process behind each consigned piece is highly specialized. We handle the authentication, styling, and photographing, all the way through to the packaging and delivery of the item to our customers once a piece has sold. The reason we decided on this business model is that our mission is to connect our Muses and consumers, and we serve to make the consignment experience easy and bring a high level of trust to our customers when they are shopping for pre-owned luxury.

DT: Tell us about your “Muses” at Dora Maar. It is a really smart concept that is unique to Dora Maar. How was that idea born? What does being a DoMa muse entail?

LW: Thank you! Along with our commitment to sustainable fashion, our Muse concept is our favorite part of the platform. The idea was born when I ideated Dora Maar and was searching for a way to link influencers and customers.

We are thrilled to see how our Muses have connected the Dora Maar customers. Our Muses are inspiring tastemakers of all different shapes, sizes, and voices. We scout women (and some men!) who care about the craft and quality of clothing, and want to see their clothing passed on. Some of our Muses include  Lauren Levison, Edward Barsamian, Lyn Slater, and Krystal Bick. Many of our Muses use their proceeds from their closet sales to raise funds for organizations that are important in their lives. For example, Lauren Levison recently donated 100% of her proceeds to the Present/Levison Advanced Fellowship in Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Mount Sinai Hospital.

DT: Does New York City influence and inspire Dora Maar in any way? If so, how?

LW: New York is certainly an incredibly huge source of inspiration for Dora Maar– so much so that I would say the city is a Muse in and of itself for me and our team. I moved to NYC right after college to pursue a career in fashion, so the story of New York is woven through everything we do. The energy and collision of ideas, innovation, and joy for life are all that make New York one of a kind. We are a born and bred NYC brand and our studio is headquartered in Brooklyn. All of the creatives– from photographers to our models (who are also Muses to us!) are based in the city. It’s amazing to be able to bring so many forward-thinking, talented individuals together to create Dora Maar amidst the backdrop of New York.

DT: What is your personal favorite spot to get inspired in NYC?

LW: That is a tough question! What I love about NYC is that every neighborhood is its only little world, so I am constantly inspired by so many different pockets of the city. When I am in need of an injection of inspiration, I am a sucker for the Met or Neue Galerie, an old 5th Ave mansion that was converted to a museum for early 20th century German and Austrian art – the space is just beautiful. On the flip side, my first apartment in NYC was on Bleecker Street in the West Village, so when I need a dose of New York City magic, I love wandering the streets over there. They are beyond charming, and I love popping into the small neighborhood shops and cafes, like Rosecrans on Greenwich Ave for delicious coffees, beautiful flowers, and small and unique home goods. I could probably go on for days about the places and people that have inspired me in the city, that’s what’s so amazing about it, I am always in awe of New York.

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