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Photography by Caroline Petters

The Couture Whisperer

by Wendy Bowman | The Atlantan magazine | November 16, 2012

Had fate (and the fashion gods) not intervened, Atlanta might have never been graced with the likes of pre-eminent Neiman Marcus personal shopper Tesa Wallace. Nor would the city’s top socialites be quite the dapper lot they are today. Wallace was supposed to be born a boy, but was a surprise to her mom when she came out fated to be a fashion-addicted young lady. Wallace says she doesn’t recall a time in her life when she wasn’t drawn to “pretty things” or obsessed with fashion.

Today, the chic clothier has earned a reputation among Atlanta’s best-dressed as the “couture whisperer,” for her ability to outfit them to a T—as well as their husbands and children. She’s a master at finding the ideal attire for a wedding, a gala, long excursions to Europe, a new wardrobe for the season and much more.

The fashion student started out at Neimans in 1991 as a sales associate in the fine apparel department (fresh off an internship with Rich’s) and then became the store’s first evening specialist (in charge of the couture evening department). She now runs the store’s Chanel ready-to-wear section and doubles as the store’s personal shopper—for everything from intimate apparel to shoes to handbags to cosmetics to even home decor.

“Each person that I dress is very different,” says Wallace, who recently celebrated 22 years with Neimans. “I riff off their style, what they love, what suits their body and personality, and what their lifestyle is all about.”

Two annual trips to Paris provide the savvy shopper with plenty of inspiration for her A-list clientele. She also scours fashion magazines and follows in the footsteps of the chain’s fashion director, Ken Downing, for inspiration. Here, she reveals her five in-store faves for the holidays.