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Bonus Links, Just 'cause it's Thursday

Barneys has added more Kate Moss/Topshop goods online and, presumably, in stores, If you're not over it yet, there are Tattoo and Barb chiffon dresses to be had. Oh, and apparently Opening Ceremony has had the collection all along - they just didn't tell anybody! (RACKED)
Gawker has info on last year's plans for expanded Fashion & Style online coverage at The New York Times which would have included among other additions...An Alex Kuczynski Blog! Is there anything that would have been more wondrous and horrifying at the same time? The mind reels. Other proposals included a possible purchase of Glam.com, which would have affiliated The Shophound ourselves with The Times. (GAWKER)
WWD has details on Giorgio Armani's plans for his upcoming Mondo Armani Fifth Avenue Flagship (Fall 2008) and other strategies for additional world domination. On Fifth we can expect the more tourist friendly combination of the high end of Emporio mixed with the low end of the main collection - no A|X or Collezioni stepchildren invited - As well as jeans, children's collections, accessories and. Also look for a sweet shop, a restaurant and flowers (?) much like his similarly packed complexes in Hong Kong, Milan and Munich. (WWD)

Zarah Goes Shopping: The Letdown

We thought Albo had it in the bag.
After last week's personal diatribe disguised as a store review, we thought the Thursday Styles' Critical Shopper had returned to form, but today we find Zarah Crawford's nice, informative and polite review of the new Asprey flagship store on Madison Avenue. Well, we already covered that. it's lovely, warm, well stocked and a huge improvement over the previous Trump Tower glitz palace (now set to become a giant Gucci glitz palace). But what about you, Zarah? How does the Asprey store inform your own trials and tribulations? Perhaps it reminds you of a strange and eccentric relative, or possibly a trip to London during which you thoroughly embarrassed yourself somehow. Have you no unfortunate or just plain bizarre stories in your past to link tenuously to this store?
Come on, Zarah, the bar has been raised.
Lets talk about you.
Critical Shopper: When You Just Need a Bespoke Chess Set by Zarah Crawford (NYTimes)
previously:Asprey 2.0: That Other Store? It Was All a Horrible Dream

Nordstrom Taps Consultants to Speed Manhattan Opening

Nordstrom Everybody knows that Nordstrom has been sniffing around Manhattan for a while looking for a suitable site for a New York City store, but they have accelerated the search by hiring real estate consulting and brokerage firm The Madison Retail Group  to assist with site selection. Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising for Nordstrom has said,"We'd love to have a store in Manhattan. It's been a goal of ours for a long time and we're aggressively pursuing the right opportunity."
The Seattle-based 155-store specialty retailer has been considering neighborhoods as varied (and possibly ill-advised) as the east 50's, Penn Station, lower Manhattan and Columbus Circle. Madison should help them get a more locally oriented perspective on potential future sites.
Madison Retail Group Retained by Nordstrom for Manhattan Site Selection (Press release-PR Newswire)
Nordstrom Inches Closer to Manhattan (WWD)

Wednesday's News from Downtown: Dress Shirts, Shoes & Lotsa Godzilla

LordwillysAs space on Bleecker Street becomes ever more scarce and costly, intrepid retailers are going with alternatives that put them in the area without being exactly on the street. Case in point is haberdasher Lord Willy's who have added a West Village location at 102 Christopher Street in addition to their NoLita headquarters on Mott Street. This new store will focus on the witty brand's ready to wear line particularly featuring their colorful shirts and ties, leaving their original location to focus on custom orders. The shop is, in their own words, "next to a rather splendid sex shop", not an unusual situation on still seedy Christopher. "Splendid" would be an optimistic description of their new neighbor, but Lord Willy's appearance on the famously racy street would indicate that Bleecker's sheen is seeping onto the side streets, though Christopher Street is still full of rainbow flagged bars  and independent video dealers with neon signs and inventive leather undergarments in their windows.
Lord Willy's 102 Christopher Street, West Village
Plazatoofront Further west on Hudson Street, the former space of Brazil's Constança Basto is sticking with shoes as it will soon be filled by local women's  shoe and accessory chain Plaza Too. The retailer carries a range of labels from classic lines such as Cole Haan and Delman to hipper fare such as Miu Miu and Loeffler Randall. Most of their locations are in filthy rich traditionally minded well-heeled suburbs like Larchmont, Greenwich and Westport, though they have a small outpost on the Upper West Side. We will be interested to see how they adjust to more adventurous downtown tastes.
Plaza Too coming soon to 571 Hudson Street, West Village
Tshirtwall And what would the week be without a report from UNIQLO? Now that the 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexandre Plokhov collections have been pretty much inhaled by customers, they are featuring yet another shipment of their printed t-shirts which are now faced out all over the store. Uniqloterryrichardson Have they gone overboard with the tees? Maybe, but every time we walk in there's another one we must have, including a whole series featuring everyone's favorite Japanese monster, Godzilla versus his various foes. Can't have too many of those. No UT self-service vending machine will be arriving, but there is a new book available made from Terry Richardson's advertising campaign, which unlike the photographer's other books, does not contain nude photos of himself or his friends and models in various states of undress and engorgement. This will either be a relief or a disappointment depending on your point of view.
UNIQLO 546 Broadway, SoHo.

A Mistress Makes Way For John Bartlett


O Mistress Mine, the West Village vintage shop has been closed for a while, now, but The Fashion Informer tells us that the currently empty shop will soon be the site of John Bartlett's first boutique. Birdbath It's about time, since no small designer can rely on department stores and wholesale clients to express his brand's aesthetic, and Bartlett's particular style can only be enhanced by being presented in its own environment. The store is set to open at the end of this summer, just in time to fill it with his military academy-inspired Fall collection. To be located at 143 Seventh Avenue South near Charles Street, it will be off the beaten path of Bleecker/Meatpacking mania, but still prominent enough to attract attention and be found easily by his target downtown customer. This corner is beginning to look extra trendy, however, as the boutique will be right next to The City Bakery's new environmentally conscious yet  economically pricey Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery. Is Seventh Avenue going to be the next hot location?
John Bartlett To Open New York Flagship (The Fashion Informer)

Bill Blass Revolving Door Back in Effect: Michael Vollbracht Quits

MichaelvolbrachtWell, we though he had settled in for the long haul, but Michael Vollbracht has left Bill Blass, leaving the company's new owners NexCen Brands searching for the fourth designer to helm the collection in the less than 10 years since Mr. Blass himself retired and sold the company. Vollbracht stabilized the design direction after the quick succession of Lars Nilsson and Steven Slowik (Remember him? Neither does anyone else). Jolievouge He managed to stay close to the classic Blass aesthetic, but received criticism for not moving the brand forward and never quite charmed the fashion press despite scoring a recent Vogue cover dressing Angelina Jolie and maintaining a strong presence on Hollywood's red carpets. His last collection showed a more youthful direction, however, but it wasn't enough to keep him there, and Vollbracht himself may have been ambivalent about staying. As WWD reports,

Asked if he plans to stay in fashion, Vollbracht, an accomplished illustrator and artist who has had various exhibitions, said, "I doubt I will. It's not something I'm thinking about. i have a home here and one in Florida, so I have a pretty nice life."

Sounds like someone ready to hang it up.
Vollbracht Resigns From Blass (WWD)

And One More Designer Collaboration: Rifat Ozbek for Mavi Jeans


We have been remiss over here at The Shophound. As we try to keep track of the ever proliferating designer collaboration collections, one or two are bound to slip through the cracks. What with Uniqlo, Gap, H&M, Target etc. we somehow missed Rifat Ozbek's line for Mavi jeans.Ozbekrunway2 Ozbekrunway1_2 Of course, we heard something about it in January, but for some reason it didn't register quite as strongly as some of the others, so we were only reminded when we walked past the Mavi store on Broadway a few days ago. You can't really blame us, as Ozbek hasn't really been much in the spotlight since the mid '90s when his exotically inspired collections spiced up the London fashion scene. A few years ago he returned to the runways designing a new ready-to-wear collection for the Italian leather firm Pollini which, as far as we can tell, is not available in NorthAmerica. For this project, the Istanbul born designer went back to his roots to work with the Turkish based company, and came out with a navy and white capsule collection of dark denim and jersey separates with his signature sparkly embellishments and embroideries for a Mediterranean party feeling. While the prices are about 30 to 40 percent more than Mavi's typical entry level premium denim price points (meaning more than Levi's, less than Citizens of Humanity), they are still much less than Ozbek's usual designer-level offerings which should please Ozbek fans...if there are any left.
Mavi 832 Broadway, Union Square

Would Jack Kerouac Appreciate a $1,590 Jacket? Hogan Says Yes

Kerouacjacket We're not really sure how pleased Jack Kerouac would feel about the special collection Italian luxury accessory brand Hogan is launching this year under his name, especially since he is no longer around to reap any profit. Just for fun, lets read the Google translated French to English news item about The Jack Kerouac Project from Le Figaro Madame for more details,

The novelist of Happy the Generation is the hero of the first collection capsule loan-with-to carry of the Italian shoemaker, “The Jack Kerouac Project”. Six parts (of which this leather jacket) were realized for the next winter, but for the impatient ones, those will be available from May 29 and during one month exclusively at Colette. The shops Hogan, they, will then propose them as from July.

Kerouacbag Sorry, we can't help it. We have a special fondness for the automatic computer translation gobbedygook. It makes laugh the Shophound. We have no idea what "capsule loan-with-to carry" means. Luckily, The Daily tells us, in correct English, that the collection includes shoes as well as the centerpiece bomber jacket which will presumably be available at Hogan's Spring Street store in July after the exclusive debut period at Colette in Paris. We're not huge experts on Kerouac and Happy The Generation the Beat Generation, but we tend to think that the author of On The Road would look askance at the whole thing, to say the least, but, hey, that jacket sure looks nice in an Indiana Jones kind of way.
Hogan's Beat Fever (The Daily)
Hogan 134 Spring Street, SoHo


Mike Albo Goes Shopping: Bitterness and Personal Crap....The Critical Shopper is Back!

Photo by Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times
For several weeks now, since the official departure of Alex Kuczynski from the Critical Shopper column in the Thusday Styles, a series of writers have substituted with varying degrees of success. Most of the time they were under the mistaken impression that they were expected to review stores, and give a critical opinion, however, as any loyal Alex K. reader knew, the column was really a cover for a cavalcade of random personal stories that rarely related to the topic at hand, interspersed with bizarre, condescending observations resulting in a maddening but oddly compelling portrait of a narcissistic and slightly unhinged journalist.
Oh, you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone!
Today, however, in writing about the Williamsburg design store The Future Perfect, Mike Albo has cracked the secret of The Critical Shopper: It's not about the store, it's about the writer or in this case, the writer and a rotten would-be boyfriend.

It all made my heart hurt, not just because most of the enticing objects were out of my price range, but also because I once dated a guy with this aesthetic. He totally rejected me, and I never knew why, and now here I was in a prototype of his apartment, among his beguiling things.

And even better,

The gloomy-cool tone of the store seems geared toward artsy adults in their 30s — I am trying really hard to not use the word hipster — who have money and want their apartments to be radical and not look like a retro ’70s lounge designed by “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” For example, a typical client might be a magnetic guy who listens to Blonde Redhead, has a really good art-director job and a neck tattoo and doesn’t call you back.

Gee, that sounds awfully specific, doesn't it? Rather than babble on about some disturbing childhood memory in a Kuczynski-like manner, Mike has taken the opportunity to use a public forum to call out one who has done him wrong, in a clever "you know who you are" fashion. Bravo Mike! Anger and bitterness are a refreshing twist on the form.

Continue reading "Mike Albo Goes Shopping: Bitterness and Personal Crap....The Critical Shopper is Back!" »

Gap Goes Shopping at Target: Patrick Robinson to Head Design

Patrick_2 While we were wondering if Patrick Robinson would be able to spin the success of his special collection for Target into a new signature label, he had other career ideas on his mind. The Gap obviously liked what they saw at Target, because they have snapped up the designer to head design for the entire chain including men's and women's apparel, accessories and intimate lines for North America.
This is not another designer collaboration, but a corporate position, and the nearly $16 billion company is pinning its hopes on Robinson to reverse its recent run of ill fortune. While new projects such as a recent collaboration with Thakoon, Doo.Ri and Rodarte have given the huge retailer some positive press, they barely scratch the surface of the effort needed to spur a full turnaround at the Gap. Robinson has his work cut out for him, but this is the sort of challenge any ambitious designer would relish. We won't be alone in watching to see if the Gap becomes an exciting place to shop again.