The Bridge to Europe
EUROPEAN STYLE. PITTSBURGH FLAIR.
Written by Emily Polkabla
Photos by Caitlynn Beatty and Emily Polkabla
Beginning in 2010, the little shop of Boutique La Passerelle came alive. La Passerelle has many different meanings, and one of which is “the bridge” in French, and this boutique is bridging the fashion of Europe to Pittsburgh. It was, and still is, one of the only women’s boutiques in downtown Pittsburgh. It’s location on 417 Wood Street is in the perfect space to suit its personality. What is really special about this place is that you can’t get these clothes anywhere else in the United States. Why? Because the clothes are handpicked directly from Portugal. This is one of the reasons that brought Adele Morelli to the boutique.
Adele originally was a customer there and has been a resident of downtown for about 20 years. When she heard about the store going up for sale, she knew what she had to do. In August of 2013, she bought the store from Cidalia Duarte. Cidalia moved to Pittsburgh from Portugal, but continued to visit her home country a few times a year to bring the European fashion to Pittsburgh.
When Adele purchased the store, she wanted to keep the same tradition of going overseas to handpick these beautiful articles of clothing. Duarte took Morelli over to Portugal and showed her around to all the shops she visited. Änna Ciaccio came with the deal. She has worked at BLP since it originally opened in 2010, and has built personal relationships with their customers and provides great services and experiences that keep them coming back. She is now the General Manager of the store and her and Adele run the place on their own. When they go across seas, their friend and local artist, Charmed by Jenn watches the shop.
Adele and Änna take a trip to Portugal twice a year. They stay there for about 7 days in the beginning of March and September. During their time there, they see some of the sights and fill their inspiration. They head to ‘fashion row’ and handpick the styles that they want to bring back to Pittsburgh. They buy only one of each size, ranging from 0/XS-14/XL, so you are very unlikely to see someone with your same attire. It’s a super fun idea and they do not restock their purchases, so when it’s gone, it’s gone, so don’t wait! They also buy cutting-edge shoes and accessories from New York’s Garment District. Charmed by Jenn also creates some of their jewelry featured in the store. Beautiful handcrafted pieces that pair well with the line of clothing.
A lot of the styles chosen are to please client feedback. Being a Downtown Pittsburgh resident for about 20 years, Morelli knows what the day/night life is like, and knows the convenience of having an outfit that can work in the office and after work get-togethers. Owning a small business herself, Adele loves to invest and give back to the small business community. She lives, eats, and plays downtown. Some of her favorite small businesses downtown are Steel City Clothing, Katie’s Kandy Store, and La Gourmandine. Boutique La Passerelle works with Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership during Small Business Saturday and donates 10% of their sales to The Children’s Institute.
Mark Twain once said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And this is exactly what Adele and Änna are doing. They find every positive in life about working at BLP. There are many pros in owning your own business: the freedom to choose their own clothing line and decide what to sell, and no need for vacation time because going out of the country for work is perfect—and what’s better than working with your best friend? These two have such an upbeat and positive attitude that makes your shopping experience fun and unique. So, come on down to Europe in Pittsburgh at Boutique La Passerelle!