It’s a hot Runway landing

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Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

The News’ Molly Friedman, right, gets help from Rent the Runway’s Chelsea Roberts on choosing an outfit.

It’s every girl’s fantasy.

Walk into your dream closet, choose from gorgeous beaded gowns and edgy cocktail dresses, try on the perfect dangly earrings and slip right out onto Fifth Ave. dressed like a modern princess.

That’s exactly what Rent the Runway’s first-ever store promises — and much more. The popular dress-rental website opens for business today on the second floor of Henri Bendel, giving its fervent online followers the chance to try on haute couture before they pull the trigger.

“Shopping offline is often tedious,” says Rent the Runway CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman. “For a busy woman with a packed life, she needs a reason to actually go into a store after work or on the weekend. For us, that reason is personal service.”

Book an appointment beforehand with the shop’s Go-To Girls, who will choose frocks to your specifications from the site’s carefully curated rental collection, whether you need a casual floral print Tibi tunic ($ 50) or a red one-shoulder Carolina Herrera gown ($ 450). Keep the best looks for four days or eight days, then return them to the store or by mail using a prepaid package.

<p> Rent the Runway's co-founders Jenny Fleiss (left) and Jennifer Hyman</p>

Enid Alvarez//New York Daily News

Rent the Runway’s co-founders Jenny Fleiss (left) and Jennifer Hyman


When The News stopped in for a test drive, our Go-To Girl Chelsea Roberts was at the ready, having already stocked a fitting room with dresses for three occasions: a job interview, a date night and a last-minute black-tie gala.

That kind of personal attention is usually reserved for VIP customers at the city’s most upscale stores, but Rent the Runway is banking on the idea that every shopper — or renter — deserves such an experience.

The store isn’t stuffy or snobby. The cheerful pink and purple space, designed by Relevent, is organized by occasion (think Halloween, holiday party or winter wedding) rather than brand. Outside the fitting rooms is a lounge area where clients can try on Oscar de la Renta necklaces and choose from an array of clutches and baubles.

“Typically women are renting from designer brands they’ve never owned before,” says Hyman. “We decided to create a space where you can come in, have Champagne, meet with our personal stylists and have them help you.”

<p> Molly Friedman tries on a rental outfit at Rent the Runway. The store's staff has dresses preselected for customers when they arrive.</p>

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Molly Friedman tries on a rental outfit at Rent the Runway. The store’s staff has dresses preselected for customers when they arrive.


And don’t worry about snapping photos of what fits — an iPad loaded with all your measurements is right outside, perfect for taking notes on hits and misses. They’re stored, helping ensure the gowns at the next appointment will always fit.

“We wanted to build the showroom as a technology-first experience,” explains Hyman. “Every single thing you do becomes part of how you experience RTR afterward. The dresses [you try on] are uploaded to a virtual closet that you can access anywhere.”

From the first dress we tried, a vixen-red Z Spoke Zac Posen Holler Back Sheath ($ 75), which Roberts chose for a job interview or hot date, we felt like Cinderella — or at least a well-heeled socialite with the best closet in town.

<p> Rent the Runway's initial store is inside Henri Bendel on Fifth Ave.</p>

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Rent the Runway’s initial store is inside Henri Bendel on Fifth Ave.


We would never have selected the Opening Ceremony Copper Chemical Element dress ($ 100) off the hanger or from a picture online, but trusting Roberts’ instincts proved wise.

But the show-stopper was the green Badgley Mischka gown. The Go-To Girls gasped like they were watching a prom-goer descend that staircase for the first time.

Roberts removed the multicolored Dannijo Bea necklace ($ 95) from her own neck and draped it on us, completing the uptown girl effect.

<p> Friedman of the Daily News checks the services at Rent the Runway, which also offers a selection of clutches and jewelry.</p>

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Friedman of the Daily News checks the services at Rent the Runway, which also offers a selection of clutches and jewelry.


Hyman says the racks will be updated daily, meaning next week’s Halloween clothes will be replaced by Thanksgiving-ready options.

Rent the Runway plans to open similar outposts across the country in a bid to bring its online fans back to the racks.

“We’re giving women a reason to go into a store again,” she says.


Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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