Not infrequently the apogee brings the debacle in, not infrequently the glory brings in itself the ruin – this is the ebb and flow of business in any part of the world. What surprised, therefore, in relation to the biggest temple of fashion and luxury ever existing in Brazil was not bankruptcy, but the perverse fate that made its owner leave the command of a twenty-square-kilometer store to live in a cell three meters long and two meters wide. From the clouds to the ground, the fall of the famous Daslu, always located in noble regions of the city of São Paulo, was dizzying. From opulence to nothingness, a thud. Now, in an online auction whose winners will be known on Wednesday the 11th, the estate of this brand is being sold. What is offered to be auctioned, by court order, is the name Daslu itself, with a minimum bid of only R$ 1.4 million. This is not common among us who are used to auctions where things are bought. It seems abstraction to acquire the brand, but to get an idea of the importance of this traditional house, someone who dressed in items bought at Daslu made a point of showing that he was wearing Daslu. “There is reason to be interested in finishing the brand”, says auctioneer Carolina Sodré Santoro. “There was a time when Daslu, so elegant as it was, reached a billion a year in national currency”.
Success, at least at first, came by chance. In 1958, friends and businesswomen of the São Paulo elite, Lúcia Piva Albuquerque and Lourdes Aranha dos Santos, decided to sell chic fashion products in a small house in the Vila Nova Conceição neighborhood. If there had been an intention, the idea would not have worked so well. Before long they were using twenty houses in the neighborhood for their business, all connected by winding corridors. There were no names on any of the doors, no windows, much less advertising. Owners, customers and employees knew that the name was Daslu because “Lu” worked as a nickname for both Lúcia and Lourdes. In the mid-1980s, Lúcia died, and her daughter, Eliana Maria Piva Albuquerque Tranchesi, took over the management of the store that already offered the most exquisite international flu. There was a lot of movement, there was a lot of going in and out, there were many limousines in the surroundings, there were many chauffeurs smoking and talking near the residences. Residents began to complain. The City Hall, in turn, demanded the stoppage of businesses because only residences were reserved for the neighborhood. Evil came for good, and such good revealed evil, like a garment that, unintentionally, is dressed inside out.
Not infrequently, the apogee includes the debacle, not infrequently the glory brings the ruin. The Daslu brand has gone through all these phases
In 2005, Eliana inaugurated the exuberant Villa Daslu in the Vila Olímpia neighborhood: neoclassical architecture, four spectacular floors, an investment of two hundred million reais, seven hundred employees, most of them from traditional families from all over the country: among these refined girls were, for example, Sophia Alckmin, daughter of the former governor and vice president on Lula’s presidential ticket, Geraldo Alckmin; and Carolina Magalhães, granddaughter of former minister and former senator Antônio Calos Magalhães. Salespeople of this status came to be known as “Dasluzetes” and “It girl”, a highly complimentary expression extracted from British literature and which means possessing intelligence, finesse, charm, culture and magnetism. It’s much more than sexy appeal: it’s being witty and charismatic. It was then at its peak, Daslu had become the representative in Brazil of most of the established brands: Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vitton, Ferragano and Church, among others. “She brought the new sales concept called multibrand”, says the auctioneer. As has already been said, it was the heyday… but the debacle was lurking.
The Federal Police and the Public Ministry, based on accounting documents, accused Eliana of the crimes of embezzlement (import and export tax fraud), criminal organization and misrepresentation. Eliana is arrested, released, and sentenced in 2009 to an absurd sentence of ninety-four years in prison. Once again institutionalized, ostracism reigned in her cell, until she was quickly given the constitutional right to await the resources in freedom. In the midst of this, a new Daslu store was born in the sophisticated Shopping Cidade Jardim. Eliana died of cancer in 2012, the same year that Daslu, already in other hands, started to operate in Shopping JK Iguatemi, one of the most luxurious in Latin America. In 2016, the inevitable happened: bankruptcy. “In spite of everything, anyone who thinks the brand is depreciated is wrong. Someone who owns a large enterprise can buy it and add value to their business”, says Carolina Sodré.