Unapologetically Glamorous
“I never envisioned myself working in fashion, although, I was always attracted to it,” Lauren Santo Domingo said. Photo by Andrew H. Walker.

Unapologetically Glamorous

Entrepreneur and style icon Lauren Santo Domingo ’98 connects fashion lovers with designer looks straight from the runway using an innovative business model.
Michelle Boston

Scroll through entrepreneur and style icon Lauren Santo Domingo’s Pinterest page and you will find an impeccably curated collection of images.

On the social media site, Santo Domingo’s assemblages run the gamut of beauty, luxury, fashion and days gone by. Her page has been praised by Time magazine’s style section, Mashable, Refinery29 and other fashion and technology publications.

Among the dozens of collections with titles like “Beach House,” “Voguepedia,” “Urban Garden” and “LSD’s Fashion Week Favorites,” you’ll find categories like “History 101,” with images of the Beatles’ last public performance on the London rooftop of their Apple Records headquarters and a photo of Prince Charles and Princess Diana on honeymoon aboard the royal yacht Britannia.

Santo Domingo is drawn to visual imagery. “When I see something I like for the first time, some sort of synapse fires,” she said. Her work in the fashion industry feeds her desire for fresh inspiration.

“In fashion, we really crave newness. It’s an industry where we see such change four times a year — designers are putting out new collections, different points of view. I think that’s part of the thing that I’m drawn to. I’m always seeking out something new. Sometimes, it’s almost like a visual restlessness, always wanting, craving, seeing things that are new and inspiring.”

Witness her board of “Unapologetically Glamorous Women,” with images of iconic ladies such as swinging ’60s “It” girl Charlotte Rampling casually smoking a cigarette, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, fashion muse Loulou de La Falaise reclining on a chaise lounge — the list goes on.

Tall and slender with exquisite style, Santo Domingo’s visage fits seamlessly among these women. The alumna, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from USC Dornsife in 1998, is herself a model and muse for designers such as Proenza Schouler. In 2011, she co-founded Moda Operandi, an online business that allows upscale customers to pre-order designer looks straight from the runway.

Somehow she also finds the time to co-chair the Met Gala, one of the biggest annual events in fashion, and to write about style as a contributing editor at Vogue, where she pens the column “APT with LSD.”

“The first thing I think about in the morning is coffee — immediately — and then, ‘Is my iPhone charged?’ ” she quipped.

Portrait Right

Lauren Santo Domingo’s passion for style and her visual acuity developed at a young age. Her mother, Judy, is an artist. Photo courtesy of Moda Operandi.

After earning her degree, she got an insider’s view of the fashion industry as a fashion market editor at Vogue, where she would pull looks for renowned stylists like Grace Coddington, Tonne Goodman and Camilla Nickerson.

“That is where it really began for me,” Santo Domingo said. “For three years, all I did all day was deal with clothes, and I loved it.”

She recalled, “My job was to see all of the collections going down the runway, every single look by every single designer. I had to get those looks for the fashion editors who would oftentimes just say, ‘I want the finale look from Marc Jacobs.’

“When I started, I would have to go back and look on Style.com to see what that last look was,” Santo Domingo laughed. “I quickly trained myself so that I could remember any look that went down the runway. I really was required to have a vast catalogue of references, which changed at least twice a year.”

That talent comes in handy in her current roles with Moda Operandi and Vogue. “I can immediately recall images and designers, and that extends now to rooms, houses, interior designers, paintings — you name it, I have a very strong visual library.”

Santo Domingo lives in New York City, where Moda Operandi’s corporate offices are located, with her husband, Andrés, and their two children, Nicolas and Beatrice. So far, her business, now in its fifth year, has been incredibly successful.

“I love nothing more than a customer telling me how she discovered her favorite designer through Moda Operandi,” she said.

“We pride ourselves on finding the best designers around the world and presenting them to our clients. Moda Operandi has introduced dozens of new designers: Delpozo, Johanna Ortiz, Rosie Assoulin, Brock Collection and M2Malletier, to name a few. Our customers are savvy and sophisticated women. There is an earned trust between us and they know we are providing the most up-to-date, amazing fashion, always.”

She credits her history degree for providing a foundation that has been essential throughout her career.

“I was studying feudal Japan, Czarist Russia and the splendors of Versailles and ancient Rome. All of these incredibly luxurious and decadent periods of history,” Santo Domingo said. “That knowledge serves me quite well, having a business that caters to a world of luxury.”

Her own fashion philosophy is that getting dressed should be amusing, and not to over think it.

“The goal is to get the nod of approval from a girlfriend, but not to get an eye-roll from my husband.”

Read more stories from USC Dornsife Magazine’s Spring-Summer 2016 issue >>