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J. Crew Is Sorry...So Sorry

We don't know what happened at J.Crew, but things must have gone horribly wrong. Apparently, it was bad enough to send the following mass communication to their entire email list:
Usually, we just shop the stores, because they'll give you a bottle of water on a hot day, and cookies at Christmas. Also, the clearance discounts are even better in person (like the linen shirt we just nabbed for $13.99), But we have to give them credit taking responsibility when things awry.

Remodeling Report:

Gap Receives Gut Renovation
Before colette visits

Gapcoletteconstruction There's a reason why the Gap's little side store has covered windows.
The tiny shop, connected to the rest of the flagship by an elevator to the second floor, had originally been Baby Gap and and Gap Body shops before it became a showcase spot for limited edition collections like Design Editions and Junk Food. Before the sure to be hotly anticipated colette x GAP  event moves in, the space is undergoing what appears to be a gut renovation, while parts of the main store are tweaked as well.
Hopefully, the result will be a bigger selling area, because from what we can gather from the preview website, there will be all sorts of stuff crammed in there for sale .
Perhaps this also means that once colette x GAP is over, there will be further interesting events in store for the space.
We're very used to the Gap having been utterly banal for the last few years, but the new Fall goods in there look fresh and appealing fro a change. Even the basic t-shirts have been updated. If this keeps up, we may be looking at a mini-renaissance at The Gap as people look to spend less on clothing.
colette x GAP (Official Site)

Tuesday Spree

• Could we be getting a Costco on the West Side? Can the Community Boards afford to block it these days? (RACKED)
• A talk with consignment queen Maggie Chan. (The Cut)
• Investors are getting impatient. Jil Sander is on the block...again? (WWD)
• Does Vanity Fair's Best Dressed List have actual fashion credibility? Ben Widdicombe thinks not, but it sure indicates something... (The Moment)
• Cult Denim Alert: Get ready to be told you must have jeans from Current/Elliot. It's the anti-skinny jean. (If It's Hip It's Here)
• Questionable West Side Progress: Freeman's Sporting Club will be open on Horatio Street by the weekend. (Material Interest)
• Beware "vintage" on eBay. Malcom Mclaren nails the culprit who's been counterfeiting his and Vivienne Westwood's 1970s Seditionaries designs. Apparently he fooled a lot of people. (WWD)
• In order for us to be interested in Mischa Barton's new handbag line, don't we have to actually be interested in Mischa Barton? (Nitro:licious)
• Copy and save: An invaluable guide to pronouncing designer names. Could someone please fax it immediately to the staff of Access Hollywood and Bobbi Thomas on the Today Show.
Everybody repeat: Moschino: mo-SKEEN-o (Valetmag via Selectism)
• Behind the scenes with Hollywood's hottest costume designer. Sorry Pat Field. It's Mad Men's Janie Bryant. (The Moment)
• After much relaunch effort by New Balance, are PF Flyers finally coming back? (Uncrate)
Marc Jacobs didn't get married, and he ain't getting married. Got it? (The Cut)

Hello In There:

Dunhill Completes Its Move East

Alfred Dunhill Ltd. has finally found a suitable, permanent new home, but you might walk right past it due to the extensive scaffolding currently covering the southeast corner of 55th Street and Madison Avenue. Aside from a few last minute adjustments to the front doors, however, it is all serene luxury inside.
The staff is certainly solicitous, but we can't really blame them for a bit of over-eagerness on a hot Tuesday morning in July. At least we were offered a cold drink, which is more than we can say happens in most stores.
For a venerable English brand, Dunhill has kept the interior light and contemporary with blond wood paneling accented with steel and glass. Vintage grilles from long extinct automakers provide quirky decoration as well as the occasional mirror frame, inspired by the brand's origins creating accoutrements for early automobiles. Auto inspired motifs appear throughout the merchandise, but fall just short of becoming gimmicky.
Dunhilllighters Fashion-wise, Dunhill has not attempted to re-invent itself with youthful high-style. Despite the inevitable presence of Dunhill jeans, it remains a resource for classic, rich-looking tailored clothing which, while not cheap by anyone's standards, still falls short of many designers' astronomical prices.
Tucked around a corner, however is the frustrating highlight of Dunhill's offerings, a generous array of beautifully detailed lighters and other smoking accoutrements.
Sure, it's a filthy, deadly, digusting habit that makes your teeth yellow and your breath foul, but oh, what gorgeous equipment. It almost seems worth it just for the opportunity to whip out an etched silver lighter. Happily, the same design sensibilities have been applied to Dunhill's equally appealing collecton of writing instruments and an expanding selection of fine watches, many with an automobile theme.
One might be tempted to compare Dunhill's new digs to Tom Ford's opulent headquarters further up the street, but while Ford works hard to create the impression of an extensive heritage, Dunhill comes with that authority built in. All they have to prove is that the brand's high standards have been maintained, and from what we could see, they have.
Alfred Dunhill Ltd. 545 Madison Ave at 55th Street

Today In Collaborations Part II:

colette x GAP Prepares
For Maximum Impact

The Shophound has to admit that we have never been to colette (lowercase script, apparently compulsory), the influential Parisian boutique.
We have, however been to the Gap lots of times. We even went last weekend.
Gap has done a few designer collaborations over the last couple of years, but many of them have been decidedly low key. For example, they have yet to put Pierre Hardy's name on the shoe line he designs for them.
That looks like it's going to change in about six weeks when the two seemingly diametrically opposed retailers join forces for the monthlong colette x GAP project that will materialize in the Gap flagship's little side store in September. This event is starting to look like a BIG Deal. A website has already launched, and the window signs suggest that some major renovations to the space will be executed before the to shop opens.
We are willing to bet that most of Gap's customers haven't the slightest clue what colette is, but they may recognize some of the other brands that will be participating in theproject like Oakley, Converse, Longchamp and Comme Des Garçons (who seem to be collaborating with everyone these days). Other participants will be less familiar, but the fashion crowd will recognize Le Labo, Adam Kimmel and Clements Ribiero, among several others. The special items will also be sold at colette's newly renovated Paris store, but, apparently, nowhere else. We are not yet sure if either retailer will offer them online.
We can't guarantee that the throngs of slack-jawed tourists who populate that particular stretch of Fifth Avenue will have the slightest appreciation of a temporary colette boutique, but this may be the one time that they will get shoved out of the way by savvy native New Yorker crowds.
colette x GAP (Official Site)

Today In Collaborations:

Steven Alan's Lark & Wolff
Quietly Emerges At Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has announced a profusion of intriguing designer collaborations this year, but for all the potential excitement they could be creating, the launches of these exclusive labels have been quiet and vaguely timed, appearing on the floor with little fanfare.
Last week, after a few tries, we finally found Steven Alan's Lark & Wolff line at the Sixth Avenue and 14th Street branch.
Had it not been for the dedicated display on the staircase landing, we would left bewildered as to when the product would appear.
As it was, the arrangement mixed the label with surplus and other brands to fill out the presentation, and frustratingly, placed most of the merchandise behind a row of bust forms, making it difficult to even touch.
Great job, visual staff.
We did, however, get a pretty good look a the few items that had arrived, including a few of Alan's signature woven, patterned shirts, and some lightweight washed oxford cloth trousers, all of which had the designer's signature laid back feel. Each piece, perhaps to avoid cannibalization of the more rarefied main brand, carried a tag firmly establishing that they were emphatically not Steven Alan garments, but cousins from the same family tree. OK, we get it. Mostly, what differentiates these goods from Alan's main label is the quality of the fabrics which, while not poor, is clearly much more basic and not as refined as what one usually finds in his shirts. That's OK, since both the shirts and the pants were priced at about $58.
We had a hard time finding the retailer's other exclusive collaborations, though. Hawks by Geren Ford was lost among the usual Urban Outfitters jumble upstairs. Neither did we see any sign of the new collection with Paul & Joe (who, we might remind you, have already been market tested at Target). There was a small display of jeans from byCORPUS which looked good for just under $100 if not particularly abundant.
If this new collaboration initiative is meant to bring in new customers, it worked. After all, we haven't been particularly inspired to visit Urban Outfitters recently and they got us through the doors. We just hope that in the future, they have a little more to show us.
Urban Outfitters (Official Site)

Brands On The Rocks:

Som Ditches Blass
...Or Has He?

This is not the time for a designer brand relaunch.
WWD is reporting today that Peter Som has resigned as Creative Director of Bill Blass, just as its parent company NexCen Brands Inc. has put it on the block as a result of its own financial woes. It's not entirely surprising since NexCen cancelled the upcoming Spring '09 runway show as a cost-cutting measure. Som has only one relatively well received Blass runway show under his belt, though we thought it showed much promise for the future of the collection. The collection has barely even made it into stores at this point. Clearly Som saw that there was no point in a grand Blass relaunch amid so much uncertainty. After all, he has his own burgeoning label to look after.
Then again, Condé Nast Portfolio's newly relaunched blog, Fashion Inc. is telling us that Som has not resigned, and is merely renegotiating his contract. Of course, neither party has anything official to say so far.
This comes on the heels of Marco Zanini's apparent dismissal from Halston last week, also after only one show, though his was not quite as well received. These two labelsw seem to ba battling it out to see which one can rack up the most behind - the - scenes turmoil.
Perhaps Bill Blass and Halston should just take a nap for a few seasons, and come back strong when conditions are a bit more favorable.
Som Resigns at Bill Blass (WWD)
Exclusive -- Peter Som Not Resigning From Bill Blass (Fashion Inc.)