Laura Elkman's Beachy-Chic Boutique in Old South Wharf
by janice o’leary
Laura Elkman gets her sense of style from her family.
Seasonal Nantucketer and Philadelphia native Laura Elkman isn’t a woman whose fashion sense fits easily into one category. She embraces the two models (and many layers in between) set by her personal fashion icons: high heels and red lipstick encouraged by her grandmother Ruth and fresh-from-the-shore natural beauty rocked by designer Cheryl Fudge.
“My grandmother is the most stylish woman I know,” Elkman says. “She’ll yell at me and my sisters if we don’t have on heels and red lipstick as we leave the house.” Elkman learned her lesson: She’s never seen without lipstick (Chanel, of course) or designer shades.
Fudge, on the other hand, embodies a more islandy summer style. “She’s down-to-earth with her beachy blonde hair that looks like she just came out of the ocean. She wears no makeup, like a true Nantucket woman,” Elkman says. “She gave me my first job, and now she’s grown to have a huge showroom in LA.”
Elkman anticipates her annual return to the island with a fashion show at The Summer House out in ’Sconset. Appropriately, it’s this beachy vibe that permeates Dakota, Elkman’s debut business on Old South Wharf, named for her former golden retriever. (Her current golden, Sally, can be found snoozing in the store.) The young style setter is bringing clothing and accessories to Nantucket for both men and women that aren’t available elsewhere—exclusives from hot new and local designers. She has custom dresses from Boston-based Michael DePaulo, who departed from his formal gown looks just for Elkman. She’s also carrying Newbury Street darling Daniela Corte’s ready-towear line, as well as cozy, soft layering pieces from M by Marcus and jewelry by Nicole Romano, who designs custom pieces for Tyra Banks and the Kardashians. Ninety percent of the store’s items are exclusive to Dakota.
Elkman decided to open on Nantucket after getting the nudge from a friend who owns real estate on the island and showed her what was available. The island drew her for another reason, though. “We have always had a Nantucket home,” she says. “It’s been the most stable part of my life.” Though she was born in Philly, Elkman moved with her family to South Florida in her teens, then came to Boston for college. When she was young, she spent the summers on a boat with her father, stepmother, and three siblings, cruising among Nantucket, the Vineyard, Block Island, and Long Island. When her father wanted to part with the boat, “He told my step mom to pick any island we’d been to and he’d build a house there.” They built the house on Old South Road and named it Once Upon a Time.
Though her grandmother instilled in her a sense of haute couture, the rest of her family also had a flair for fashion. Elkman’s grandfather was part of the invention of the tube top. “I wish they were still in style,” she says. “Maybe with a blazer. Anything looks cute with a blazer.” Join Elkman and Sally for Dakota’s grand opening on June 23. 23 Old South Wharf, 508-901-5332.
photography by Nathan Coe