Pittsburgh's go-to fashion expert Linda Bucci closing up her shop

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, 8:50 p.m.

Linda Bucci is closing one door with hopes of another opening.

The fashionista's exit from her Shadyside boutique will leave a void in Pittsburgh's style community, say those who work for her and shop at her store.

“It's time,” Bucci says, a little teary-eyed. “They say you know when it's time, and I just know. It is sad, and I will certainly miss all of my customers, many who have become friends, and all the wonderful women I have worked with — Vicky, Josephine, Maury, Nijole, Ve, JoAnne and Miyoshi. It has been an unbelievable ride.”

This ride comes to a stop Dec. 31 when Bucci, 66, will close doors at 826 S. Aiken Ave. for good. Clothing and jewelry are 70 percent off. The furniture and fixtures are for sale, too.

Bucci has been the go-to expert when it came to choosing that special dress. She always had the gown that would turn heads when a woman walked into a room wearing it, says Miyoshi Anderson, executive director of Pittsburgh Fashion Week, who modeled for Bucci and works part-time at the store.

“Linda Bucci's boutique is a fashion destination in this city,” Anderson says. “It's a store that specializes in evening gowns, especially an outfit for an after-5 celebration.”

A boutique like Bucci's is vital to the style of the city, says Anderson.

“People know about Linda Bucci's boutique,” she says. “This is a classy store. Linda has put her heart and soul into this boutique.”

Bucci says she hopes to be remembered for one thing: “My honesty.”

“If someone comes in this store, and they don't look good in something they try on, I will tell them,” she says. “It's about finding what looks best on the person. I try to look at each client the way the world will look at them. I have never thought that just selling something was the right thing to do.”

Client Sarah Wilson of Sewickley trusts Bucci.

“Linda is wonderful as a business woman and as a person,” Wilson says. “I have no idea where I am going to shop now. Linda filled a very unique niche in Pittsburgh. She carries gowns you just can't find anywhere in town. She has such a good eye, and she knows what her customers like, and that is a unique gift.”

There will be a void once the store is gone, says Richard Rattner, Shadyside chamber of commerce president, whose family owned the area's William Penn Hat and Gown.

“She is a lady and has a real business mind,” he says. “She has always been able to stay on top of her game, despite trends changing and less of an emphasis on dressing elegantly with more emphasis on casual dressing.”

Bucci provided Pittsburgh with a spark of European and American couture fashion, Rattner says. She carries designers that offer unique collections, including Wayne Clark.

“Linda has been a joy to work with,” says Sandra Gorcey, president and owner of Sandra G, which represents Wayne Clark. “She is one of the nicest buyers in the industry. She will be sorely missed.”

Bucci, a Pittsburgh Fashion Week Hall of Famer, supports Pittsburgh with charitable donations. She will continue being involved and plans to stay in touch with the fashion community — which might include helping clients shop.

Retiring from the store will give her more time to spend with husband Tony, son Kris, 38, and daughter Cari, 36, who is getting married Dec. 1.

Kris, who is blind and has physical and cognitive challenges, is going to escort his mother down the aisle the day of the wedding. She says it's a special moment for which she's been waiting.

“My son is not the reason I am retiring,” she says. “But I will be able to do more for him because I am retiring. This will also give me more of an opportunity to be involved in everything with my entire family. This has been a family journey.”

In 1999, Bucci became a business partner with Gloria Gelb, who owned Ruth Young and became sole owner three years later. Bucci, who lives in Squirrel Hill, changed the name and put her style stamp on the store.

Bucci's love of fashion comes from her late mother, Mary Christiano, a talented seamstress when Bucci was growing up in the East End.

“It is the end of the long era,” says sales associate Ve Ruggeri. “It is sad to see such a nice store with good, quality merchandise close and whose owner takes pride in the service we provide. Linda's fashion sense is amazing. I love her style and will miss working here. It is hard to see it end.”

But Bucci says it's the end of the store — not the end of her connection to the fashion world.

“I am not saying, ‘good-bye,' ” she says. “I am percolating some ideas in my head. I am not ready to hang up my skates just yet. And I will always keep in mind that well-dressed woman.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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