, , , , , ,

The Butterfly Effect


A customer wears a unique wrap from Paracelso paired with a leather vintage top and YSL pumps.

“It was magic; it transformed her,” Luxor Tavella enthused.

Tavella, the Italian owner of the 40-year-old Paracelso boutique, stares admiringly at a customer who is wearing one of her European finds from her collection.

While looking in a mirror, the young woman confidently spins around in a voluminous black pea coat with its wide sleeves accented by tiny bows. Luxor smiles at her customer’s satisfaction.

“You see,” she explains, “I like to transform things when I see the person.”

Luxor is keenly aware of the great effect that each piece from her carefully selected-collection has on her customer. To Luxor dressing for the day is more than just putting on any old pair of jeans and t-shirt. It brings out the innate yet hidden beauty in the individual. It is an artistic expression. A process of transformation. A chemical reaction.

“It was stylish and made her look like something more than a little thing,” she comments after a very petite customer put on a colorful, oversized silk caftan with a Jackson Pollock-looking print.

Her passion for transformation and magic can be seen in the name of her butterfly effect-like store. Luxor appropriately named her boutique Paracelso after the German-Swiss chemist Paracelso, who studied the chemical reactions of elements. Like Parscelso, Luxor intended to use her talent and knowledge to transform what was ordinary into the extraordinary.

Though her textile haven, with clothes in every color and shape scattered throughout the store, may seem to some like a chaos of couture, Luxor sees it as organized clutter.

If you ask Luxor for say, a chinoiserie silk scarf, she will find it within minutes. Each item earns its own special spot in her store, and Luxor, though not as young as she once was, remembers exactly where that spot is. She claims each piece is “her child” and speaks to her. When it comes to adding to her collection she looks for audible beauty. Luxor claims, “If a piece is not beautiful it does not make it into the store.”

The eclectic window display at Paracelso.

Many customers like Susanna Lau from “Style Bubble” are initially attracted to the bohemian flair of this untraditional West Broadway boutique. Lau immediately fell in love with the store’s whirlwind of “haphazard and painterly clothes” that is so different from its homogenized neighbors.

Luxor knows that her customers are appreciative of her art that she has worked so hard to accumulate over the years, travelling from her home city of Milan to the beaches of St. Tropez.

As she points to a few customers who are sifting through the bright, delicate garments, Luxor says reverently in a soft voice, “I live for customers like these. There is a meaning why each costumer is here instead of at a chain store.”

Indeed, Luxor’s customers are well aware of her one-of-a-kind pieces and worship Luxor’s inimitable aesthetic.

Take for example, Alison Mar from “True North” who writes, “I can’t remotely do justice to describing Luxor, she is amazingly original and spellbinding.”

Luxor’s finds are priceless in both the figurative and literal sense; all of the tags have been cut off and the price remains unknown until inquiry. Upon consultation, Luxor thoroughly explains the material used, the inspiration for the piece, the over-priced designers that create similar works, and finally the price.

Throughout the years, famous artists and designers that have patronized the store have inspired Luxor.

As she glances far off into the distance, Luxor drifts back in the past when all the biggest artists came and bought from her collection.

She pauses for a second as the memories overcome her and says softly, “It was a beautiful time. Warhol…Basquiat….they all came.”

Luxor bases the love others have for her store on what she considers her “unusual” style. Mesmerized by the boutique’s magical and rare style, a gentleman from England was so moved that he wrote a poem before catching a flight home.

He writes, “Inside the cocoon of spun silk wings stir; A butterfly emerges, talking of fabrics, yarns, boucle.”

Nothing can describe the experience one undergoes at Paracelso better than this poet’s metaphor. The magical transformation that a customer encounters when entering is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary. The plain becomes the beautiful. And the usual becomes the unusual. Luxor’s sense of style creates a work of art. And that work of art is you.

A Jackson Pollock-esque, silk top from Paracelso in Soho, NYC

A Jackson Pollock-esque, silk top from Paracelso in Soho, NYC