"There's nothing like seeing a woman try something on, look unbelievable and feel fantastic," says Leslie Razook, president of Razook's, the company bearing her family name. "You might say I was born and bred to sell fine clothing."
Leslie is the third generation to carry on the retail traditions established by her grandparents, who immigrated to this country from Lebanon. Her grandfather, Fawzi Razook, called F.R. from his earliest years, opened his first high-end clothing store in 1917. A shrewd businessman, he recognized opportunity in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where a casino and fine golf courses drew wealthy families who traveled there by private railroad car.
"My grandfather opened and closed stores following his clientele, for whom the social season in a particular location could be very short," Leslie says. The store's entire collection would be packed into enormous trunks specially designed for transport, and the whole staff of fitters and employees would travel with the collection from site to site. "My grandmother Rose handled all the logistics, including finding housing for everyone." The couple established boutiques in New York City's Plaza Hotel and the Breakers in Palm Beach. Their son George, Leslie's father, added more shops, bringing the total to eight.
In 1967 Razook's came to Greenwich, courtesy of a heads-up from a Plaza Hotel customer who made George aware that Florence Schmelzer wanted to sell her shop on East Putnam Avenue. Still at the original location but five times the size, today's Razook's has grown with the town. "My dad recalls walking at midday past the top of Greenwich Avenue," Leslie says, "without seeing a car go by or one person on the street."
Razook's quickly became not only 'the place to shop,' but also an integral part of the community, organizing fashion shows to benefit a host of charities and local organizations from Greenwich Hospital to the Bruce Museum.