A New Luxury Store Is Coming to Montecito

Last year, Philip Manghisi, a former buyer for Elyse Walker and Jeffrey stores, launched his first retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he now lives.

Called Wunderkind, a reference to Manghisi’s retail buying skills when he worked in New York for the now shuttered Jeffrey, the 3,600-square-foot space in a small shopping center debuted with uncomplicated luxury as its theme.

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The location carries a blend of designer ready-to-wear, contemporary collections, luxury shoes and handbags, fine jewelry, eyewear and home accents by Alaïa, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Elder Statesman, Gabriela Hearst, Givenchy, Ganni, Nili Lotan, Raquel Allegra and Re/Done, among others.

At first, business was great, but then the new store owner noticed that all his high-end customers were disappearing between May 15 and Aug. 15 when temperatures in the desert landscape soared, and the town became hotter than a dry sauna.

“The summer was pretty bleak. Business was very, very tough,” Manghisi said from his home in Scottsdale. “So, I thought it would make sense to open a store in a market that would do well during the summer and a place that wasn’t too far from Scottsdale.”

Manghisi zeroed in on Montecito, the affluent Southern California town that is home to Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. He thought the Santa Barbara adjacent town would be a good spot because of the tourist crowd and the number of wealthy celebrities and residents who live there, and moved there during the pandemic.

He found a 900-square-foot location close to the Jenni Kayne store in the Upper Village. The space recently was occupied by an interior designer.

The locale, which looks like a stone house, is being prepared to open in mid-March. “The Montecito store will be designer labels only because there are several great stores in that area that carry the contemporary lines I carry,” Manghisi said. “I am going for luxurious, but not super dressy. We’ll have something more like daytime cocktail. But Montecito is a very casual place.”

The new Wunderkind will carry brands including Alaïa, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Khaite, The Row, The Elder Statesman and Gabriela Hearst.

It follows a wave of recent luxury retail happenings in the area, including a summer-long Dior pop-up at Rick Caruso’s Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, where outposts of The Webster and Brunello Cucinelli are also open, joining nearby fashion retail stalwarts such as the Montecito Country Mart and Wendy Foster.

The store already has great bones, with exposed beams and poured concrete floors. So, Manghisi won’t be making too many interior design changes to the location at 525 San Ysidro Road. “The store is not going to be fancy,” he said. “It will be cozy.”

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