Tucson Fashionista – Cele Peterson

Black and White Fashion Magazine Cover

It’s only fitting to start my new Tucson Fashionista series with Cele Peterson. History shows that the late Peterson was truly the desert’s grande dame of fashion. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Peterson opened her first fashion boutique during The Great Depression and it would go on to survive World War II and a devastating 1956 fire. Catering to wealthy wives and celebrities, including Lady Astor and Liz Taylor, Peterson would eventually create her own Southwest clothing line, “Station Wagon Togs,” that would not only be featured in Mademoiselle magazine but also find an audience in front of Pop McKale’s daughter, Ruth, among others. Gabrielle Giffords once commented that she always wore a silver pin bought at Peterson’s store to dress up her outfits, according to an article on preservetucson.org. Before her death at age 101 in 2010, Peterson had created a local empire of stores that spanned the city and forever cemented her name as one of city’s true style mavens.

Tucson Fashionista is an occasional and ongoing Zona Girl series on local women with legendary style.

Posh Life

It could be said that this petite mom with the rose-gold tresses has tapped into the same magic that crowned Sam Fox a restaurant success story.

Except in this case, we’re talking luxury resale.

In fact, when it comes to designer brands, Haley Greene Ochoa could be one of Tucson’s best resources. “I just love shopping, I love clothes,” said the owner of Posh Boutique. “I feel very lucky that I can do this.”

First opened in 2003 as the ultimate cool-girl retail spot with eye-catching ads featuring UA greats like Channing Frye, Posh is now Tucson’s luxury resale destination, offering authentic apparel and accessories from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tory Burch, Gucci, Hermes, Escada and many other haute labels.  Since Buffalo Exchange closed one of its locations, Ochoa’s boutique is quickly becoming the place to consign on the east side.

After a few months of working for her (writer’s disclaimer), it’s easy to see that Haley really knows her business. A fifth generation retailer—her grandparents were milliners and her mother owned a gift store in Illinois—she truly has an eye for what works and what sells.

She can also spot a fake a mile away and boasts an edgy-luxe style that her social media followers both expect and demand from her popular outfits of the day on her Instagram feed, shopposhboutique.

Besides her chic store with a cocktail bar and a girl’s dream closet-feel, Haley also operates a website, www.poshboutique.com and is constantly vetting new consignments daily. Posh offers those who want to sell items at her store 50 percent of the selling price, after thoroughly researching each piece. Designer handbags are perhaps some of the store’s most treasured finds.

Haley and her staff are now busily preparing for Black Friday, when shoppers can get their hands on the newest “It girl” pieces, along with a glass of champagne.


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.”