A Fashion Maven With Her Collection of Chanel Accessories
Toni Feiman has an undisputed top-drawer sense of style. A personal shopper for Saks 5th Avenue for decades, she is a fashion leader in a city where woman still enjoy dressing up and stepping out to lunch or tea.
It wasn’t a surprise to find Toni at a recent birthday lunch Phyllis Taylor hosted in honor of her friend, Jerri Cullinan. It was quite a fashion show, with hats and gloves very much in evidence. Then in walked Toni and all heads were turned. She was wearing a simple white dress draped with a Chanel scarf that was so large it was wrapped around her shoulders like a cape. She was also carrying an orange Chanel purse, not to mention handsome Chanel earrings adorning her ears.
“I simply love all things Chanel,” she smiles and offers in response to compliments on her outfit. “When you buy something Chanel, you have made a lifetime investment, and don’t forget. Chanel never goes out of style.”
A stately, elegant woman who advises fashion-conscious clients what to add to their extensive collections of clothes, Toni unabashedly gushes over her job. “This is a perfect job,” she says. “I love dressing up for work each day and taking care of interesting woman in the elegant surroundings of Saks at Canal Place.”
Her clients come from all over Louisiana, as well as from surrounding states. “I have clients from Florida to Texas, but my largest group of out of town clients is from Mississippi and Alabama,” she says. “One of the main joys of my job is getting to know what each customer likes and then making an effort to find just the perfect item for them.”
She quickly lists Chanel, Escada and Max Mara as the best liked designers for her tony clients. She points out that Chanel is such a stalwart favorite at Saks there is even a special Chanel boutique just for the brand. Over the years she has become close to many of her clients. “They even call on me to come and help them organize their closets,” she says. “It’s amazing what I sometimes find tucked back in a closet that is still fashionable today.”
Tagged with the grand name of Marie Antoinette by her parents, Toni was born in the north Louisiana town of Colfax. She attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), then moved to New Orleans where she went to work for Gus Mayer, a one-time grand shop on Canal Street. In 1963 she met Edward Feinman, “He was a cute attorney with a Thunderbird and the rest is history," she says. The Feinmans have two daughters, Kimberlee and Margaret, and five grandchildren.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Feinmans had serious flooding. “We had eight-feet of water,” she says. “The good news is that we have a two-story house, so my closets were dry.” Toni says. She immediately went to work at Saks in Houston until their house was repaired and they could move back home.
“Fortunately, none of my Chanel accessories were ruined by the hurricane,” she adds. Then she proudly tells of her latest purchase — her large Chanel scarf. “I simply had to have it when I saw it at our Saks,” she says. “I bought it to wear on my trip to Paris this summer. It is my latest treasure.” Then she smiles and adds, “Everything Chanel that I have is a treasure.”