THE next big fashion trend is out there, and Roz Pactor is on the hunt.
During her 30-year career at Foley’s, she’s scoured magazines, kept her eye on the street and paid attention to a her “sixth sense” for spotting trends in fashion.
She felt something stirring in her gut about turquoise a few years ago, so she pushed until Foley’s buyers heeded her word.
“We’re in Texas, for God’s sake,” says the petite, feisty Pactor, who has served as Foley’s vice president fashion director for nearly a decade. “Turquoise is part of our culture, and it hit. We got on it quick, capitalized on it and sold a ton of turquoise.”
When camisoles became a blossoming youthful trend, Pactor seized the moment a little late, she adds, but better than not all.
She says her instincts are on target 90 percent of the time, but when gauchos returned to the runways last year, she missed it. “We went after cropped pants. Gauchos snuck in the back door, and we had to chase it. I don’t know how we missed it, but we did. Sometimes one of your greatest pitfalls can be history. We brought gauchos in before, and they didn’t sell,” she says.
As Foley’s fashion director, Pactor is responsible for keeping buyers and advertising staff on target with the latest colors and styles of the season. Her picks become the focus of advertisements and much of what customers buy in the stores. She also directs how looks are accessorized.
Pactor still doesn’t know what her job situation will be when Foley’s merges with Macy’s this year, and she shies from talking about that uncertainty.
Her colleagues are hopeful.
“If she does leave, she’ll be missed,” says Theodore Alano, senior director of marketing for Ralph Lauren in New York. “She’s got a legacy and has elevated the taste level of fashion for Foley’s. It’s hard to find someone who’s been in the business this long and is so passionate about what she does. She’s got a keen eye for style and always selects things (from our line) that sell out in the stores.”
Pactor’s dedication shows in her personal style – ruby-red eyeglass frames that have become her signature and trendy-classic outfits that complement her 5-foot-1-inch frame. When shrugs were in, Pactor wore them. Brooches, too. But never is her style too much or too trendy.
She even sold an outfit right off her back last spring in a store in Austin.
“One of the women said she wanted my outfit. We couldn’t find it in her size, so I went into the dressing room and took it off. How many times have I said, `I could sell this off my body,’ and this time I did!” she says.
As a child, Pactor wanted to become a fashion model. The idea fizzled when she topped at just over 5 feet tall, certainly not supermodel height. As a student at University of Houston, she majored in fashion merchandising and worked part-time at Neiman Marcus. The store sponsored Pactor on a nine-month fashion merchandising internship in New York after she graduated. She worked briefly in the toy department at Bloomingdale’s, where she “never worked so hard and had so much fun” picking out toys for celebrities such as Lena Horne.
“It made me love Bloomingdale’s,” Pactor says.
Her Foley’s career began with a temporary job at Sharpstown Mall. She became a store manager at several locations, then head of visual merchandising, a position she held for 12 years.
Along the way, she married Alan Pactor, another Foley’s staffer, in 1978. They have two children, ages 17 and 21, a grandchild and a live-in high-school exchange student from Italy.
Pactor has witnessed fashion evolve from the dressier, more structured styles of the 1970s to the relaxed looks of the 1990s. She still owns a DKNY bodysuit that she bought when the line debuted in the mid-1980s. The line continues to be one of her favorites.
“Back then, you had a definite professional wardrobe with hose and heels. Now, designers are much more conscious keeping things simple, comfortable and less serious,” she says.
Pactor also has seen the demand for trends soar, especially with the influence of celebrities. When Hollywood welcomed jeweled T-shirts and sequined jeans, the soccer moms in her neighborhood traded their khaki shorts for beaded tops, belts and shoes. “My job is (about) how quickly we can interpret Europe, Los Angeles and New York for our customers. Fashion (today) is less about the season and more about what’s hot. It’s about the next big thing, and it’s what real people wear.”
At an accessories trade show in New York this week, Pactor took mental notes. Color accessories, bangles, necklaces, earrings will be big for spring, she predicts. “It’s a complement to the neutral clothing styles we’ll be seeing,” she says.
Pactor frequently travels to New York and Los Angeles to meet with design houses and attend trade shows. But she gets more pleasure on the Foley’s floor.
“I love going to stores and working with customers to find out what they need. I like helping them. That’s really the high for me,” she says.
In her 30-year career at Foley’s, Roz Pactor has seen her share of fashion highs and lows. Here are a few:
1980s High: Chanel and pearls, feminine styles
Low: Parachute pants, shoulder pads, disco look
High: Casual dressing
Low: Grunge, heroine-chic
High: Premium-denim explosion, pink, red-carpet looks, individualize dressing
Low: Not there yet