The art outfitter

Elise Russell

Photo By Carli Cutchin

Elise Russell is the owner of Parasols on the Riverwalk, a unique downtown clothing boutique that offers an eclectic selection of “wearable art.” There are, in fact, no parasols in sight—just plenty of slinky silk skirts, rich velvet dresses and plush fur accessories. Parasols just celebrated its one-year anniversary in October—the first of many, Russell hopes, for she has no intention of leaving her cozy clothing nook with its killer river view. The store, located right next to Century Riverside 12, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

I don’t see any parasols here, only clothing. Why the name?

It’s kind of an image of days gone by, I guess. The reason for that is a lot of the clothing has the edge of times past. Not quite to Victorian days, but if you look, there’s a retro look and a classic look. So I have quite a variety.

How did you end up here?

I truly believe that the river is one of the prettiest places in Reno. And it seemed to me, being new to Reno, that it was most likely to be developed. … I see so much potential here. … I think [the Riverwalk] can’t help but live up to that potential. [Parasols on the Riverwalk] is doing very well despite the fact that we’re hidden. When I had my year anniversary, I had a fashion show, live music … it was just great. [Patrons] just loved the opportunity to come here and enjoy this area. This whole terrace should be filled with food, wine and music.

That would be great.

That would be great. And I do fashion shows here every couple of months.

At the store? Or does the location vary?

It does. I’ve done them on the West Street Plaza, on the upper terrace here, and Esoteric is a great place.

Who models for you?

My goodness. I don’t always choose “perfect” model types or women who have a lot of experience. The clothes are really fun, and I like to show that, yes indeed, real women can wear them.

Where do you buy from?

Apparel Market in L.A., Las Vegas and Dallas. Apparel Market has everything—new young designers and [established ones]. My first question [to designers] is, “Do you sell to department stores or anyone else in Reno?” If they answer “yes,” I don’t buy.

Do you make the trip to Apparel Market yourself?

Oh yes. I have to feel, see, touch—and even though the idea of flying is a little nerve-racking, I still go.

Can someone do special orders? Say, a wedding gown?

Yes, generally there is something I can put together for them. When I first started, I thought that because of all the weddings in the area, [wedding apparel] would take off, but it didn’t. But I still have all those connections.

Do you buy several items of a certain style?

I usually try to get my designers to let me buy no more than two, because Reno really is a small town, and I want people to feel like if they go somewhere, they won’t see the same dress.