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The Friday Spree

Monicabotkier • Handbag Princess Monica Botkier submits to an interrogation. (The Fashion Informer)
• Folks are going bonkers for the freshly opened KidRobot Pirate Store in SoHo. Is there something we are missing here? (RACKED)
Aimichaelannasui • 17-year-old rising model star Ali Michael ditches Paris because she decided not to starve her 5'9" frame. Casting agents inform her that with 5 extra pounds, she is too fat for the runway. And they say they are being sensitive to weight issues now. (Wall Street Journal)
Hussein Chalayan is the new creative director for Puma, not a special collaboration collection, but the whole company while his own label joins the PPR family as well. (WWD)
Marc Jacobs presents the Easter Skunk. Finally, someone has recognized that bunnies are evil. (RACKED)
Kkvs• While she's in Paris, Washington Post's Robin Givhan visits Chrisitian Lacroix's exhibit at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. (Off the Runway)
Victoria's Secret now looking for a less overtly trashy image. Good luck with that. (Wall Street Journal)

Goodbye Joseph SoHo

How did not know that Joseph's fabulous end - of - season sale was really a store closing clearance?While the JosephJoswphclosednotice Madison Avenue location will remain open, Joseph's expansive SoHo boutique, long a mainstay on Greene Street for the perfect pants, is no longer, as workers carted out racks and fixtures early this morning.
We would be surprised if the prime spot has not already been leased, but if it hasn't, we look forward to finding out who is moving into the soon to be empty spot at 106 Greene Street.

Gracious Home Coming Downtown

Our friends at RACKED have tipped us off that Gracious Home is opening a Chelsea location on the big box boulevard that is Sixth Avenue. GH will eventually open in the soon to be finished Chelsea Landmark development between 35th and 26th streets, yes, where the flea market used to be. Provincial downtowners may be unfamiliar with Gracious Home, which is a mainstay for uptown home furnishing shoppers, combining hardware, plumbing fixtures, and upscale home furnishings including lighting, bed & bath and kitchenware; kind of like the fancier side of Home Depot meets Williams-Sonoma with a linen department. On the East side it consists of a federation of three separate locations clustered on Third Avenue in often cramped quarters. The West side version is all under one roof, but mostly underground. An expansion to Chelsea will hopefully give them a chance to further evolve the shopping experience, and perhaps the proximity to competitors will make them a bit more competitive at the register. For the convenience it offers, Gracious Home is not known for it's bargain pricing.
Storecasting: Gracious Home Nests in Chelsea (RACKED)

Mike Albo Goes Shopping: Luxe Athletic Edtion

28crit6503In this morning's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Mike Albo finds himself at the recently opened Y-3 store on West 13th Street. We'll admit that we have been a little hard on Mike lately. Perhaps we have been dazzled by his fellow consumer Cintra Wilson's verbal flights of fancy, or maybe Mike's whim for the occasional bit of oversharing put us off. Maybe we've just gotten carried away with our self-assumed role criticizing the critics.
Well, probably not, but anyway, today, Mike delivers a tight, well observed survey of the Yohji Yamamoto/Adidas collaboration store. While the Y-3 line began as the inventive Japanese designer's take on athleticwear, over the past few seasons it has morphed into more of a designer sportswear collection (with the prices to match) with a nod to the gymnasium. That polyester doubleknit that your coach's shorts were made of has been assembled into a stylish pair of trousers, for example.
Having reeled in his inclination for disclosing too much information without becoming completely dry and clinical, Mike's observations this week are among his sharpest:

A black short-sleeved shirt with Velcro fasteners looked like a hip surgical shirt ($225). It scared me, because I could imagine being at some blue neon-lighted warehouse party and seeing Vincent Gallo wearing it and glowering at me with his penetrating, predatory gaze.

We're right with you. While we like most of what we find at Y-3 (especially the sneakers), anything that makes us think of crazy eyed Vincent Gallo is petrifying and should be avoided.
Critical Shopper - Y-3: Think of Adidas, by Way of Porsche by Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Y-3 317 West 13th Street between Hudson Street and 8th Avenue, West Village

P.S. If you really are looking for Adidas by way of Porsche, there is a stylish Porsche Design for Adidas line priced relatively well compared to Y-3. Not that we're trying to correct you, Mike. We just can't help ourselves.

OAK Spreads Its Roots To NoHo

OakinteriorWilliamsburg boutique Oak gave us a preview of its new Manhattan location earlier in the year when it opened briefly for a final clearance sale of Fall merchandise from its other stores. Then it closed to clean up and rest, and recently re-opened as its permanent, full-priced self. We already know that Oak sells a sophisticated mix of emerging designers and more familiar labels in Brooklyn where, with all due respect to proud Brooklynites, it is something of a bigger fish in a more far flung pond. The obvious question is how does it stack up in Manhattan where there is closer, stiffer competition.
Quite well, it turns out (as if we really thought it would suffer from a  trip across the East River). In fact, the store benefits from the fact that in recent years, the locus of New York hipsterdom has shifted to Williamsburg from its longtime home in Manhattan.
The store is bisected by a freeform wooden structure that also serves as display shelving separating men's on the left from women's on the right. The jeans are all still skinny and expensive from rarefied brands like Superfine, and Kicking Mule as well as Oak's own label. Other apparel is mixed on the rack by style rather than brand, and well known Oakexteriorlabels like Nicole Farhi and Generra mingle with newer lines like Telfar and Trovata refugees Shipley & Halmos.
Perhaps as a welcome holdover from Brooklyn, the staff has not yet acquired the sort of disaffected aloofness we have come to expect in Mahatttan. Let's hope they keep it that way
Oak 28 Bond Street, between Lafayette Street and Bowery, NoHo

Wal-Mart Goes For More Fashion With A Norma Kamali Exclusive

Kamali_3Wal-Mart is hitting Target where it hurts.
The mass retailer has announced an exclusive agreement with veteran designer Norma Kamali to include women's apparel, children's clothing, accessories, footwear and home furnishings.
Kamali's licensing agreement with Everlast has just ended (They are launching a new fashion collection with designer Zaldy) , and she wasted no time in finding another deal. The lines will be manufactured by Cherokee Inc. through a new licensing agreement with Kamali who said through the press release,

"My life dream has been to promote self esteem for women and wellness for the entire family. Now I have the opportunity with Wal-Mart to create products that combine my design experiences with great value and innovative ideas to fulfill this dream. Through the Wal-Mart stores and website I can reach more people and affect more lives than in any other venue."

As for Target, they are now facing the loss of their Isaac Mizrahi business and disappointing sales numbers. Wal-Mart's business is up, and its fashion-oriented collections are starting to catch fire at retail. Is Wal-Mart finally gaining on its smaller but more highly regarded rival?

Strangest Marketing Effort

We can't quite figure out the point of this scene we came upon this afternoon on the parking lot at Houston street between Broadway and Crosby Streets. It's a fairly straghtforward event. Two young women clad in black tights are handing out the "Manifesto" for Spring/Summer 2008, the latest catalogue from Yves Saint Laurent (no more Rive Gauche) featuring Kate Moss in the spring collection. Blown up images from the campaign photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin are on display as well. Our only question is why there? Clearly, YSL is on a publicity blitz, as the catalogue (no prices listed) was also included in this morning's New York Times, but is late February on the edge of NoHo really the best time and place to promote an exclusive and ever more expensive designer apparel collection? Are they promoting some event beyond the clothes, or is this a sort of expensive way to create brand awareness (and is it even remotely hitting its target customer)?

Counterfeit Crackdown Details

The New York Times and WWD have all the hard details of yesterday's counterfeiting shutdown in Chinatown which city officials believe will greatly reduce the availability of fake designer goods on a long-term basis.
Counterfeittriangle1 Well, time will tell if that's actually the case, but the message was clearly sent not to the merchants who sell the goods, but to the landlords who lease space to them. The city feels that  the “Counterfeit Triangle” the area including Canal, Walker, Baxter and Centre Streets, has been effectively crushed.
32 shops were closed, and authorities used nuisance abatement laws to raid the businesses, seize merchandised tagged with every designer name you can imagine, shut them down and fine the landlord, who in this case is the estate of Vincent Terranova.
Mayor Bloomberg classifies the counterfeit product business as "organized crime," and on many levels, it's not hard to compare the shops to 1920's speakeasies. The next challenge, really, is how to keep the fake goods from getting into the country to begin with.
City Agents Shut Down 32 Vendors of Fake Items (NYTimes)
Counterfeit Crackdown: New York Police Shutter Canal Street Buildings (WWD)

Tuesday P.M. Spree

FlorenteaterwireFlorent safe or closing in March? We can't tell from this report, but perhaps a deal has been reached. (Eater)
• American designers are maneuvering their funds to minimize the horrid European exchange rate (Fashion Inc.)
• A quick profile of chic spawn Julia Restoin-Roitfeld (daughter of Carine). Apparently she's partial to buying gifts at Kiki de Montparnasse. (The Moment)
Stefano_bemer_crop •When he's not acting, Daniel Day Lewis is apparently an unrepentant shoe queen and amateur cobbler. That might explain the brown suede shoes he wore on Sunday, (Kempt)
• The motorcycle jacket is back. When did it go away? (Debonair)
Amy Winehouse is planning a makeup and fashion line, so you too can look like you lined your eyes with an El Marko. (Nitro:licious)
Time Warner Center now ranks among the highest grossing shopping centers in the country. (DNR)

Rick Owens Coming To Western SoHo?

RickowensBuried at the end of Style.com's review of the latest Rick Owens runway show in Paris is this little tidbit of information:

These will surely find an eager audience at the Paris transplant's first New York outpost, a Tribeca store at Hudson and Dominick that's scheduled to open this summer.

How did we miss this bit of news?
As far as we can tell, this will be Owens' first U.S. store, and by putting it on Hudson street, he has chosen an offbeat location that is  several blocks west of the heart of SoHo's shopping area. The always fascinating Los Angeles designer who successfully transplanted himself to Paris is known for his unconventional point of view, as well as a loyal, cultlike following. They will be counted on to make a destination out of an out - of - the - way spot which, knowing Owens' prodigious imagination, is sure to be transformed into someplace interesting.
Rick Owens (Official Site)