One Savvy Lady

Donna Roach always hoped that one day she might find a career in fashion.

The Tucson woman even remarked so in a newspaper article as she was poised to graduate from Purdue University in the 1960s. Now many years and two beautiful daughters later, this stylish woman with the kind eyes and loving demeanor has found that calling as a master consultant for The Carlisle Collection of New York. Though it’s a pricey line (prices range from $100 to $1,000) the luxe looks that Roach sells are impeccably made investment pieces that women throughout the region line up to buy during her four seasonal shows each year.

“People do dress up here,” she said. “The women who come here, they are women who love designer clothes.” The Carlisle lines employ the same mills used by Chanel and Prada, she says, utilizing luxurious fabrics that far outlast the blends so common today. “It is one of life’s unexpected pleasures that addresses every woman’s need to feel special,” she says. Roach recalls one of her most frugal customers who decided to invest in a gorgeous, pink Carlisle sweater. “She says, ‘I’ve worn it five times and every time I do, I get so many compliments. I stand taller and I feel so good about myself.”

It’s these moments that the stylist cherishes, as well as, the friendships she’s developed with her customers. Her fashion newsletter, Savvy Lady presents…, is stocked with outfit ideas and inspirational quotes for her customers when she’s not with them. And come show time, she rolls out the red carpet, turning her home into a chic boutique of complete outfits constructed with shoes and jewelry that Roach has procured from local vendors and artisans.

She even encourages women to come and look with no pressure to buy, knowing that they might be the best referrals for others. Yet, there’s no greater testament to her talent than this story: One of her eldest customers, who passed away recently at age 101, bought from Roach for several years. At her funeral, the bishop described the woman as the “fashion guru” of the church. Afterward, the woman’s son came up to Roach, extending his hand.

“So, you are the woman who dressed my mother.”