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Online Update:

Gilt Fuse For Ladies Only?

Perhaps no upcoming website is more anticipated than Gilt Fuse launching on August 12th. Gilt Groupe's thrifty little sister finally has its own homepage, which is quick to inform us that it is just for women. While the mother ship has expanded to include beauty, home furnishings and, we are told, travel packages (coming soon), for now, the contemporary focused Fuse is limiting its audience, though the corresponding men's collections will still be found on the main Gilt site.
Given their track record, we are betting that this will change within the next six months, but for now, Fuse is open only to those possessing XX chromosomes, or at least those who aspire to it.
You still need an invitation to shop, so get one HERE.
Gilt Fuse (Official Site)

A Civilized Sample Sale
At John Bartlett

After seeing The September Issue director R.J. Cutler's appearance at The Apple Store, we headed over to John Bartlett's West Village home/studio for an invitation-only sample sale.
When was the last time you were offered a drink at a sample sale? It was a lesson in civility, with John mingling with customers and offering offering deep discounts on overstock and, for the slender of waist, last Fall's runway samples. It was a great chance to pick up some choice Fall items like outerwear and tablefull of sweaters in anticipation of when the weather finally cools. Of course, half the fun was getting an extended look at John's inspiration boards. Was that the model lineup for next season's show? And over there's a couple of CFDA awards to look at up close.
20% of the proceeds were donated to The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide outreach program.
Oh. if every sample sale could only be this pleasurable.

The September Issue:

Director Spills At
Apple Store Appearance

Rjcutlerapplestore In advance of tonight's sold-out preview screening at 92YTribeca, filmmaker R.J.Cutler made a special appearance yesterday to discuss and promote his documentary The September Issue at the Apple Store in SoHo. The film, as you probably know by now, profiles Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour and chronicles the creation of the September 2007 issue, the largest single issue of a magazine ever published.
A few rumors were debunked including most obviously the myth that Anna Wintour is controlling the promotion of the film with an iron fist. There was absolutely no Vogue presence at the Apple Store. This was actually a good thing as it allowed the director to talk about Wintour freely. In fact, the event was very low key, as Apple does little more to promote its events beyond publishing a calendar on its website and distributing pamphlets in-store. This talk was geared more towards film than fashion folk, as Cutler made sure to note that the movie was edited with Apple's Final Cut Pro software. The discussion will be made available shortly in podcast form as part of iTunes' Meet The Filmmakers series.
Here are a few of the interesting tidbits about the film that Cutler dropped yesterday:

• The reason why he was allowed access to film Wintour and Vogue at all may simply have been because he had the guts to ask. Most people would have been too intimidated to even bother.
• Wintour agreed to Cutler's having final cut out of respect for him as a journalist and as the daughter of a journalist —a decision she may have regretted at times. After seeing a rough cut of the film, she responded with praise and a long list of "suggestions".
• The process of boiling down the enormous amount of footage was so complicated that one late-stage cut of the film actually eliminated Editor At Large André Leon Talley entirely! Clearly a huge mistake, Talley was abundantly re-inserted into the next cut.
• Cutler immediately knew he wanted to make a movie about Wintour not because of her own personality but because of the way other people reacted to her. She has a command of her environment and, according to him, the ability to change the temperature in a room with her mood.
• Ultimately, the film is less about Wintour herself than it is about her relationship with Vogue's Creative Director Grace Coddington, who was initially so disinterested in the project that she refused to allow herself to be filmed at all until four months into the nine-month shooting schedule, and had to be practically begged to participate.
• The two are apparently Vogue's Yin and Yang with Wintour's office described as a "freezer of efficiency" and Coddington's as an "incubator of creativity". He also had great admiration for the rest of the magazine's staff including Tonne Goodman, Sally Singer and Phyllis Posnick among others whom he described as an all-star team of editors.

Cutler was careful to remind his audience that despite all the attention the movie was drawing in the fashion press, it is still an independent documentary with an independent documentary's promotional budget, meaning a tiny one, so he implored everyone to please go see the movie, which is already scheduled for release in major U.S. cities.
The September Issue opens in New York on August 28th and in other cities on September 11th.
Our calendar is marked.

Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

Defensive Tourist Edition

In today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson takes a restrained look at Tiffany & Company, an American retailing icon, but instead of visiting the famous flagship at 57th & Fifth, she has chosen to make her assessment of the newer satellite branch on wall street that opened two years ago. This week finds La Cintra in a more reflective mode, observing the irony surrounding a luxury mini-shopping district that has popped up at ground zero of the luxury bust. Instead of profligate Wall Streeters, Tiffany's downtown branch seems to be catering to the same tourists that throng the historic flagship store, who apparently don't care to be bothered while buying jewelry.

Three young Chinese tourists were excitedly viewing a gold necklace with a small diamond at the center, for $900.“Are you buying necklaces for your girlfriends?” I asked.
“He is,” said one with a backpack, pointing at his serious-looking friend.
“How did you know about Tiffany in China?” I asked the potential buyer. “Is it famous there?”
“I use the Internet,” he said, somewhat defensively.
“How did you know we are from China?” his friend asked.
The buyer became shy and hostile, and suddenly cupped his hands around the diamond he was viewing, so I couldn’t see it.

Clearly this tourist had no idea that the Nosy American Lady was going immortalize him in the pages of The New York Times. Overall, however, our shopper has practically given Tiffany a free pass compared to her usual treatment. She is admiring, but not effusive —almost polite, even. Perhaps the brand is just too monolithic to engage Cintra's attention too strongly one way or another.
Critical Shopper | Tiffany & Company If Bling Had a Hall of Fame By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Tiffany & Company 37 Wall Street between Nassau and William Streets, Financial District

Recession? What Recession?

Zilli's French Luxury To Hit Midtown
...Whether You're Ready Or Not

Have you been wondering where you can buy a crocodile bomber jacket now that you are tired of the ostrich one you bought last year? Perhaps one that can be matched with shoes and a belt?
That sort of slick extravagance has been missing from Manhattan's shopping scene since opulent men's boutiques like Bijan and Napoleon have left us, but not for much longer. French luxury label Zilli is preparing its first American boutique, joining the equally sumptuous but somewhat more restrained Brioni in the Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street, making a sort of nexus for sybaritic menswear in midtown.
Zilli's design tenets could be described as "Why use leather when perfectly good snakeskin will do?" or perhaps, "There's no jacket that can't be improved by lining it with mink." The brand's style is classic, but lavish —not garish and ostentatious, but more stealthily indulgent with a touch of glitz, and typically staggeringly expensive. It's aimed at the sort of vastly wealthy customer who remains recession proof, possibly slightly lacking in refinement, but hardly a full-on vulgarian —The kind of guy who will disrupt a classically elegant suit with pavé diamond and sapphire cufflinks.
Apparently, there are some of these left.
Think "shipping magnate with a deep tan" holding a man's clutch bag and riding in an armored limo.
We can't wait either.
Zilli (Official Site)

Fashion Tech:

The September Issue
To Hit The Apple Store

Septemberissue The Shophound always keeps a keen eye on the schedule of events at the Apple Store in SoHo because you never know who might show up to do a little bit of plugging. Earlier this year, we caught Stars from Watchmen, as well as Dollhouse and Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon along with the show's alluring star Eliza Dushku in a surprise appearance.
Thursday evening, the store will filmmaker R.J. Cutler, the director behind The September Issue, the much talked about documentary about Anna Wintour and the creation of Vogue's biggest issue ever.
Presumably, he'll be talking about entering a rarefied  part of the fashion world to make the film.
Will La Wintour make a surprise appearance for the computer geeks? Oh, to see the bobbed one answer questions from the audience would be a rare treat. We will see tomorrow at 5 PM. We can't promise anything, but stranger things have been known to happen.
R.J. Cutler at The Apple Store SoHo, July 30th at 5 PM, 103 Prince Street at Greene Street, SoHo

Pop-Up Mysteries:

What Is eBay Doing
On West 57th Street?

Midtown shoppers may be bewildered to see big signs for eBay installed at 3 West 57th Street, the space next to Bergdorf's that most recently housed Fortunoff, and a host of temporary and pop-up stores before that.
Isn't eBay the antithesis of a brick and mortar store? Doesn't this fly in the face of eBay's claim that it is not actually a retailer itself?
WWD tells us that eBay is running a five-day "holiday preview" pop-up store so people can "see what just a fraction of its inventory would look like in a store".
Apparently, eBay will be cherry picking the best of what its vendors are offering on its site to fill the 5,000 square foot store and is promising 'wow' items from many of the luxury brands whose own boutiques are only a stone's throw away like Vuitton, Gucci and even Apple. How this will play out, we don't exactly know. Will they be auctioning items in the store, or will we have to bid using our own computers or iPhones or Blackberrys? Of course, eBay itself does not own merchandise or inventory, so we'll be interested to see how they collect the items on display.
And which holiday exactly are they previewing? Labor Day? Halloween? We haven't even been able to ascertain exact dates for the event. As of yesterday afternoon, the store was in set-up mode, so we're keeping our eye on this one.
EBay, Daffy's to Open Pop-Ups (WWD)

Upcoming Launches:

Gilt Fuse Has An Ignition Date


As we reported last week, Gilt Groupe is thisclose to launching a companion site focusing on less expensive bridge and contemporary labels, and now that site, GILT FUSE, has a launch date. Set your mice to refresh your browsers at noon on August 12th, just over two weeks away.
Reportedly, the site will go live with Plenty by Tracy Reese, Kova & T, Modern Amusement, CC Skye, TKO Orologi, RJ Graziano, and BCBG. Prices are reported to be within the $75 to $150 range.
As with its mother ship, Gilt Fuse will feature sales limited to a 36-hour period on an invitation only basis. Gilt Groupe members will already be included in Gilt Fuse, so click HERE fro an invitation so you can be ready at the first moment. In the meantime, this week Gilt will be featuring sales from Helmut Lang, Rachel Roy, Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals, Carlos Falchi, Lunt Silversmiths, Behnaz Sarafpour, Victorinox, and our favorite upscale erotica source, Kiki de Montparnasse.
Mark Your Calendar: Gilt Fuse Launches On August 12 (Glamour/Slaves To Fashion)

Does The Future Hold Hope
For Christian Lacroix?

The glittery Christian Lacroix boutique on East 57th Street looked so serene this afternoon, but we imagine the tension must be running high inside. The store, only opened barely two years ago, is slated close in a matter of weeks because the Fall Prêt-à-Porter collection so well received by press and retailers will not be produced at all due to the maison's unfortunate state of bankruptcy.
As has been widely reported, the much admired but never profitable Haute Couture house will be reduced to a licensing operation with a staff of twelve unless a viable offer for the business is made before the end of the month, and while a few companies have been making noises, a single promising possibility has emerged only over the weekend.
The Borletti Group, an Italian investment firm has put in a bid that would presumably save the house, but would it be able to save the New York boutique? Borletti's plan calls for the retention of 49 of Lacroix's 124 employees, which raises the question of whether or not the Haute Couture division with its highly specialized workers would be retained, or would the house be turned into a deluxe ready-to-wear house with a couture past like Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Balmain or even Yves Saint Laurent?
As for the New York boutique, it's tough to keep a store open for an entire season without merchandise (except for licensed items like scarves and menswear) but should the house of Lacroiux be saved, would the long awaited shop be allowed to take a hiatus for a few months while it regroups?
Stranger things have been known to happen.
Borletti Group Bids For Christian Lacroix (WWD)
Italian Group Makes Offer for Christian Lacroix (NYTimes)

Jeans On The L.E.S:

Self Edge Artisan Denim
Lands On Orchard Street

As reported, San Francisco denim boutique Self Edge opened its Lower East Side location on schedule last Friday right next door to Orchard Corset, and if you think New York has already seen the last word in jeans, then think again.
Anyone heading down to Orchard Street looking for a pair of comfortably washed and lovingly hand distressed dungarees should keep on walking down the street to Earnest Sewn for one of their (perfectly respectable) myriad washes. Self Edge is for hard-core denim aficionados, and by hard-core, we mean hard denim. The jeans here are raw and heavy, with their selvage side seams intact. We saw a pair by Iron Heart made from 23 oz. denim so stiff that the pants standing up by themselves was a foregone conclusion, much like some of the foundation garments at the store next door. Cardboard-like would be a fitting description, and we can only imagine with horror the chafing and abrasion that would accompany the extended breaking in period these pants might demand. This pair, however, was an extreme example of Self Edge's merchandise, most of which is much more easy to wear, but the fashion story here is basic and rugged. Though there are several jeans brands represented here including Flat Head and Sugar Cane, you probably haven't heard of any of them. They are mostly independent niche brands dedicated to preserving artisanal manufacturing techniques, and not contrived design, so the basic five-pocket style with minimal decorative stitching is the standard here. You'll have to bedazzle them on your own.
Of course, even without all the extra finishing processes, many of the jeans at Self Edge still hit the $300 mark and then some, but the store has more than just jeans including lots of shirts in typical vintage and western inspired stripes and checks, and a few shoe styles made for 3sixteen by cult bootmaker Quoddy. There is even a rack of belts in sturdy leather with heavy brass buckles waiting to be broken in along with your jeans, as well as a burgeoning private label line.
Dedicated to keeping the experience complete, Self Edge will be receiving a vintage chainstitching machine in the next few weeks to make all alterations consistent with the styles in the store.
As you may have figured, the concept here is 'break them in yourself", meaning wearing jeans unwashed for several months so that all the little whisker marks and worn patches that will appear after the first washing are made by your own body and activity instead of a machine somewhere. Sometimes it's hard to convince people that (as long as you wear underwear!) it's perfectly fine not to wash jeans very often as long as they are aired out regularly and don't get heavily soiled. The end result is better fitting jeans with distressing that matches (and flatters) your own body. Trust us, we were converted by our first pair of Nudies, and if that doesn't convince you, think of the environmental benefit of forgoing all the chemicals and wash cycles that go into creating the stacks of denim at Seven For All Mankind.
Self Edge 157 Orchard Street at Rivington Street, Lower East Side
Previously: Denim Forecast: San Francisco Jeans Experts Heading East?