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New York Times Fashion Critic
Cathy Horyn Retires

Horyn_190In a move that has startled New York's fashion and media circles, The New York Times' chief fashion critic Cathy Horyn (pictured at right) has chosen to resign her position. A note to the newsroom from executive editor Jill Abramson and Stuart Emmrich, editor of the Styles sections, indicated that she is leaving to spend more time with her partner Art Ortenberg who is in poor health. Horyn has been at the Times since 1998, taking her most recent position in 1999. Her tenure has not been without controversy. Though her writing has been acclaimed, she has also ruffled some very prominent feathers including Giorgio Armani, who disinvited her from his shows for a couple of seasons, and Hedi Slimane who has made a point of banning her from his Saint Laurent shows. Most recently she experienced a contretemps with the usually good natured Oscar de la Renta over a review which required a subsequent rapprochement between the two prominent fashion figures. That is not to say she is universally disliked. She was awarded the Eugenia Sheppard Award from the CFDA in 2002 for her fashion coverage.

Her departure leaves the Times without its two most well-known fashion writers with only seven days to go before Fashion Week begins. Along with Horyn, Eric Wilson left the Times a few months ago for an editorial position at InStyle magazine, which means that the next month or so of Fall 2014 runway collections will be covered by a relatively new team of writers, including few who have the experience or influence of either Horyn or Wilson (though we expect to see a few more bylines than usual from Times veterans Ruth La Ferla and Guy Trebay). 

A note to the Times: Robin Givhan appears to be available.
Get on that!

Times Fashion Critic Cathy Horyn to Retire (NYTimes)


Can Barneys Burnish Its Image With New Transgender-Focused Advertising?

For the next few days you will be hearing a lot about Barneys' latest advertisements. The store has engineered a media blitz to launch "Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters" which collects 17 transgender models (including Arin Andrews and Katie Hill pictured above) and superstar photographer Bruce Weber for the store's Spring 2014 advertising program —though it is less of a retail campaign than a social advocacy project. Beyond just shooting ads that will appear in glossy magazines and an elaborate 32-plate, Italian-printed portfolio that will replaces usual, seasonal catalog, the models are also featured in short videos, and each one has been profiled by Vanity Fair contributing editor Patricia Bosworth on the store's website. The advertising images are beautifully done, and the associated media is illuminating and often moving. Barneys has joined with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the LGBT Community Center for the campaign, and on February 11th, 10% of sales from all 11 of the chain's flagship stores will be donated to the two organizations.

The campaign broke online yesterday with an article that appears in today's New York Times, and it is also featured in today's WWD. This morning, Barney's customers received an email blast introducing the advertisements and directing them to the website. If the campaign does not make it to the Evening News tonight or at least on "The View" within a few days, it would be considered something of a failure. It comes on the heels of a Christmas season which Barneys management would probably like to forget when a promising Holiday promotion featuring Jay Z was hopelessly overshadowed by a racial profiling scandal that is still not fully resolved.

At this very moment, there is nothing that Barneys would like more than to be seen as socially conscious, or even progressive. In spite of the likelihood that the campaign was in the works long before the Christmas season went sideways for the store, most observers will see it as a response to the avalanche of unfavorable press at the end of last year which saw Barneys officials and the Police department trading blame for the results of some very poor judgement in the store's security department. Whether the new campaign will succeed in improving the store's tarnished image remains to be seen, but it is guaranteed to push it back into the news, and that is generally what has characterized the goals of the new Barneys promotional schemes. Barneys' creative director, Dennis Freedman has said in WWD that the choice to do these new advertisements, had “a lot to do with the realization that such extraordinary progress has been made in the last few years for the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, but it’s striking how the transgender community has been left behind. It’s disturbing and upsetting to see that.” It's an issue that has been in shadow partly because many transgendered people have, in the past, preferred to remain quiet about their experiences so they could go through their lives without judgement. Transgender Visibility has recently increased dramatically with performers like Laverne Cox of "Orange Is The New Black" eloquently raising awareness, most notably on a recent episode of Katie Couric's talk show in which Cox and former "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant Carmen Carrera pointedly explained to their hostess how it is important to be seen as more than simply the results of a gender reassignment process. Clips from the show went viral, giving even people who who already considered themselves socially progressive something to think about

Ordinarily, one wouldn't think of this particular issue as fodder for a department store promotion. Typically, stores will ally themselves with less controversial causes like Breast Cancer charities or AIDS fundraising, but Freedman's strategy for the Barneys has been more like that of a magazine, looking to create excitement and interest that will drive readers to the newsstand, or, in this case, the handbag counter. Since he arrived at the store, he has linked with celebrities and fashion personalities like Lady Gaga, Carine Roitfeld, Daphne Guinness, and the Walt Disney Company to varying degrees of success. Many considered the Gaga and Disney Holiday promotions of 2011 and 2012 to be off-brand for the store. Though they drummed up plenty of press, few believed that they were successful at creating real excitement among Barneys' existing customer base or at bringing in new customers who fit the store's affluent profile. Barneys, after all is not a magazine, and needs to sell a lot more things than publications. This new advertising effort is bound to generate more attention for the store, and, at its best, it should achieve its goal of raising awareness and understanding for the trangender community, but whether it can successfully turn the conversation about Barneys away from racial profiling, and, more importantly, generate sales and new customers, is something we shall have to wait to see.

A Barneys Campaign Embraces a Gender Identity Issue (NYTimes)
Barneys New York Taps Transgender Models (WWD)
Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters (The Window/Barneys New York)


Precious Menswear Edition

30CRITICAL_ALTSPAN-superJumboAs if on cue, Today's Thursday Styles features Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica at the store menswear blogs have been buzzing about for the past few weeks. The Armoury, in unlikely TriBeCa, describes itself as "Artisanal Clothiers" which should be a red flag for anyone who has a low threshold for clothing purveyors who may take themselves just a bit too seriously. Caramanica has, on occasion, been just such a person, but today he is completely enthralled by the store, which also has a sibling in Hong Kong. Even a $65 pocket square with hand-rolled edges seems irresistible. "You wanted to buy a whole summer suit just to have something to wear it with," he writes. Somehow, The Armoury has made the usually rarefied clothes that get salivated over on Tumblr and Instagram more accessible.

Reblogs do not a style make. But the Armoury makes a certain refinery almost approachable, and appealingly intimate. Just ask the Drake’s cashmere turtleneck ($500) that loved me so much, it clung to me tightly and didn’t want to be taken off. Now it’s calling me, texting me at all hours. “When can we be together,” it wants to know..

Oh, we have all been there.

Critical Shopper: In TriBeCa, a Savile Row Fantasy By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
The Armoury 168 Duane Street, Tribeca


Moschino Is Out & The Kooples Are In

Have you grown fond of the witty window displays at the Moschino boutique between the Apple Store and Hugo Boss in the Meatpacking District? Well, don't get too used to them. The New York Post is reporting that French sportswear brand (yes, another French sportswear brand) The Kooples is negotiating to take over Moschino's lease at 401 West 14th Street. Though the charismatic Italian label celebrated its 30th anniversary collection for Spring 2014 with an extravaganza retrospective runway show, look for the store to close before the Fall 2014 season as the label relaunches and redefines itself with new creative director Jeremy Scott. Though this would seem to be more the time for a store renovation, the Post says that the brand is going to be exploring other retail options, suggesting that an extensive revamp is underway for Moschino and all of its various product lines.

As for The Kooples, New York shoppers should be familiar with the label's leased shop-in-shops at both Manhattan Bloomingdale's locations. This will be the brand's first freestanding brick-and-mortar store in New York. Started by three French brothers whose parents started the mother-daughter label Comptoir des Cotonniers, The Kooples was created as a store for couples to shop in together. Presumably, solo shoppers will be welcome as well. The label is expected to maintain the store until 2018 at which point they will either renew the lease or face an exorbitant rent hike that will force them out in favor of some other chain with bottomless pockets —but lets not get ahead of ourselves. We should just be getting ready for the city's first new The Kooples store sometime this Fall, perhaps, and thinking about what kind of insane retail concepts Jeremy Scott has in mind for Moschino. He will show his first full collection for the label next month in Milan, and something outlandish is to be expected.

French flair for 14th Street By Lois Weiss (Between the Bricks/NYPost)


Marshall's To Fill The Loehmann's Void On The Upper West Side

This Marshall's signage which we just noticed in the windows at 2182 Broadway (pictured above) may have been there for a little while, but they have been obscured by scaffolding which has, until now made the southeast corner of Broadway and 77th Street one for pedestrians to avoid as The Larstrand apartment building was being built. Now the corner is clearing up, and we can see that one more branch of the chain discounter soon be opening on the Upper West Side, joining other Manhattan units in Harlem and Chelsea. it seems safe to say that it will probably open not long after the nearby Loehmann's in the Ansonia Building closes its doors for good next month. Not unlike what happened when Filene's Basement bit the dust, one discounter's departure will be replaced with the arrival of another in the neighborhood. Whether it's a fair replacement will be left up to the customers. The arrival of Marshall's as Loehmann's finally dies made us think of Ginia Bellafante's recent piece in The New York Times in which she suggested that the failure of stores like Loehmann's was somehow connected to the rise of sophisticated, curated stores like the Comme des Garçons Dover Street Market that just debuted in Murray Hill.

She's kidding, right. That's may make a passable essay for the Times, but it's a stretch in logic of any sort. Nobody went to Loehmann's for a curated shopping experience. Loehmann's, as well as Filene's Basement, Daffy's and Syms before it, died because it couldn't stand up to the competition not only from online off-pricers like Gilt Groupe and RueLaLa but also conventional brick and mortar stores like Century 21 who are doing it better. Marshall's is part of the massive TJX Companies which also includes TJ Maxx and Home Goods stores. In recent years, TJX has made a concerted effort to focus on adding more stores to New York City. Loehmann's is closing 39 stores, but TJX has hundreds of locations nationwide. While they may not all hold the bargain treasures that one could once find at Loehmann's, there's no way the smaller chain could compete with the buying power of such a huge corporate entity, and yes, Prada Shoes and Lanvin dresses have been known to appear at Marshall's from time to time. By the same token, the more locally based Century 21 has been furiously upgrading and expanding recently. In the couple of years since it took over the former Barnes and Noble in Lincoln Square, that chain has been the one consistently selling the designer labels the former New York Loehmann's shoppers craved. Even its financial district flagship, once a messy dump by anyone's standards, has been expanded and upgraded to an almost pleasurable shopping experience that is still crowded and inconvenient, ut now much easier to navigate. With the exception of a last ditch updating effort last year, Loehmann's has never been able to catch up with these two chains. Its demise has been something of an inevitability for a while now, but not because of an influx of fancy avant-garde boutiques. They just got beat at their own game.


Have A Look At Riccardo Tisci's New Nike Collaboration

Late last week, we got our first good look at at least a bit of Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci's collaboration with Nike. There's a glimpse of the sneakers in the February issue of Vogue, which the designer showed on his Instagram account last week on Joan Smalls who was slung over his shoulder wearing the Nike X RT AF1 Hi Boots which will retail for $225. Those are the ones in the middle of the picture above which make a soer of hybrid sneaker/boot. For those looking for more conventional footwear, there appear to be a regular hi and lo version of the sneaker which seems to be a basic Nike Air Force 1 in black and white with some colorful extra detailing. While there are other aspects to the collaboration, it's the sneakers that everyone has had their eyes out for, and the good news is both that they will fairly wearable and not over-designed as some collaborations can be (have a look at some more details below), and also that they will be relatively low-priced as designer sneakers go. If the big ones are $225, then the hi-top and lo versions will likely be well under $200. Pricey, yes, but not compared to Lanvin or Prada sneakers. There will be more previews of the rest of the line coming, to be sure, so stay tuned. 

Collaboration Anticipation: Riccardo Tisci Reclaims His Brand For Nike Collaboration


Zooey Deschanel Enters The Celebrity Fashion Fray With Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy-zooey04Expect to see a lot of blue doe eyes under a heavy raven-haired fringe on bus shelters and subway ads this Spring as Tommy Hilfiger launches a collaboration capsule collection with actress Zooey Deschanel called To Tommy From Zooey.The first pieces of the 16-piece dress collection will arrive at Macy's stores (where Hilfiger has an exclusive agreement) on April 14th, and then a week later at the designer's own stores and on Tommy.com. Few actresses have as well defined of a personal style as the "New Girl" star. Her own vintage styles with a mod, 1960s flair inspire the line (see sketch at right). “I am a fashion fanatic, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate vintage, feminine pieces into my own wardrobe,” the actress has officially stated. For his part, Tommy calls Deschanel, "very bright and very funny, and really down to earth, the girl next door. At the same time, she has a Jackie O type of chicness to her.” You won't have to be Jackie O to buy the collection, however, which will retail from $98 to $199. Both parties are mum on whether this will be a one-shot deal or an ongoing collaboration, but after a mini-media blitz including print, digital and outdoor advertising, we should how well Deschanel's signature, whimsical style translates into fashion. Have a look at some of Carter Smith's advertising images in the gallery below.

Zooey Deschanel Teams With Tommy Hilfiger (WWD)

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Paul Smith, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabanna, Jimmy Choo, Saint Laurent, John Varvatos, Burberry, Rachel Roy, Palladium

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Happy clicking!

Tuleste Jewelry, 3.1 Phillip Lim Eyewear, Paul Smith, ML by Monique Lhuillier, Matt Bernson, T Tahari, Elorie, Kenneth Jay Lane, Marc Jacobs Collection Accessories, Amrapali, Elie Tahari, Shoshanna, Ahava, Dolce & Gabbana, Seavees, Luciano Barbera, Clapham Socks, Robert Graham, Diesel, Randolph Engineering, Wall + Water, John Varvatos ★ USA, Ourcaste, Michael Kors, Lucien Piccard, Alexander Comforts Down, Keno Bros. Furniture —join HERE
Splendid, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, ViX, Fathead, Citzen Watches, Karastan Rugs, Puma, Vince, Delman, Madame Alexander, Salomon, Mulberry, Furla, John Varvatos, Sophie Catalou Girls —join HERE
Fendi, Longchamp, Saint Laurent, Amrapali Jewelry, Prada, Jimmy Choo, Pour La Victoire, Tom Ford Sunglasses, Armani, Burberry, Chan Luu, TAG Heuer, Tissot Watches, Adrienne Landau —join HERE
J Brand, Franco Sarto, L'Occitane, BB Dakota, Rivka Friedman, 7 Diamonds, LORAC, Charles Jourdan, Wilt, Dr. Martens, Palladium, Vertigo, Rachel Roy, Sorel, Dooney & Bourke, BELLE by Sigerson Morrison, Burberry Fragrance, Steve Madden, Skweez Couture, Scotch & Soda, Pinky, Bucco, Surya Rugs & Pillows, Jessica Simpson Luggage, —join HERE
Salvatore Ferragamo, Gordon Rush, French Connection, Sundek Swimwear, Adidas SLVR, Ted Baker, Cotton Addiction, Bella Luxx, Joe's Jeans, Swiss Legend & Lucien Piccard Watches, Gorila Shoes, Hoo Shoes, Casa Bugatti, Grand Bazaar, Stacy Adams, Christopher Fischer, Andrew Marc, Florsheim, Michael Kors, Isaac Mizrahi —join HERE


Sarah Jessica Parker Will Re-Open Treasure & Bond For Her Pop-Up


For everyone who is waiting to find out where Sarah Jessica Parker will be appearing in New York to launch her new SJP shoe collection, WWD is reporting that the 3-day pop-up store will be located in the space that used to be Treasure & Bond at 350 West Broadway in SoHo. The actress/perfumer and now cobbler will reportedly be on-site for all three days to meet and greet customers and sell some shoes, so prepare yourselves for a crush of loyal Sex And The City fans to inundate the shop. The line is to be exclusive to Nordstrom stores, so it is not terribly surprising to see that the pop-up store will be in the space of the now-shuttered Nordstrom-owned boutique, which the retailer, apparently, still controls. After the New York appearance, Parker will be visiting Nordstrom stores in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Dallas through March 9th. The line will initially launch on February 28th on the store's website as well as in only 25 out of 117 Nordstrom locations including Garden State Plaza and Cherry Hill in New Jersey and Roosevelt Field on Long Island in the New York City area.

SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Pop-up February 28 - March 2 at 350 West Broadway between Broome & Grand Streets, SoHo
Sarah Jessica Parker Teams With Nordstrom (WWD)
Pop-Up Alert: Sarah Jessica Parker's Shoe Line SJP Gets A 3-Day Pop-Up


Macy's Plans An Overhaul For Brooklyn

About six months ago, as Macy's was unveiling dramatic renovations to its immense Herald Square flagship, The Shophound took a jaunt over to Downtown Brooklyn to compare the improvements in Manhattan to the state of one of the chains other large, historic stores on Fulton Street (pictured above). We spent some time wandering the floors, noting the building's physical condition as well as its merchandising layout and reported back. It turns out that even as they lavished improvements on their cash cow on 34th Street, Macy's execs have taken a critical look at the big Brooklyn store as well. We wouldn't want to presume that The Shophound had anything to do with this happening, but, well, why not? After all, we both came to the same basic conclusion:
Macy's on Fulton street is a dump.

But not for long. Today's WWD reports that there are big plans to upgrade the building which has been a department store since 1883 when it became the flagship for Abraham & Straus, a local chain that Macy's took over in 1995. As we noted last year, little in the store has been updated since then, though it still includes original Art Deco design elements like a rotunda and a striking elevator bay that will hopefully be preserved. Macy's executives have big plans for the building which will likely become a template for renovations in the chain's many other urban flagships —They're just not exactly sure yet what those plans will be, specifically. “Brooklyn is a fantastic market,” Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, CEO and president of Macy’s Inc., tells WWD. “We are just waiting to figure out the right way to approach the Brooklyn store.” Lundgren notes that as in many department store flagships that date back to the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the current layout actually consists of more than one building cobbled together resulting in complicated floor plates that pose challenges when it comes time for major renovations, so it could be some time before they figure out how to approach the changes to be made.

While there is no specific plan or time frame for the store's renovation yet, Macy's is promising more than just cosmetic improvements for the ever more decrepit store. What is in the works is expected to be a total overhaul of the entire merchandising concept in Brooklyn to serve the rapidly changing market there as well as in other cities whose downtown neighborhoods are undergoing renewal. In recent years, Downtown Brooklyn has attracted new branches from major chains like H&M a few steps away from Macy's as well as Sephora, A|X and Uniqlo. Nordstrom Rack is coming to Fulton Street and Neiman Marcus Last Call has just announced an upcoming store in the Brooklyn Municipal Building. With such competition moving in, as well as continuing gentrification in nearby neighborhoods like Cobble Hill and Carroll gardens, It would have been irresponsible from a business standpoint for Macy's to continue operating one of the biggest stores in the chain in such an outmoded condition. As we noted last July, the renovations that are turning Macy's Herald Square into an upscale palace for luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, are making parts of the rest of the chain look like a totally different company in contrast. With a new concept for the Brooklyn store, not only will Macy's show that they care about more than the famous Herald Square flagship, but it might just turn around some customers who had long ago written off the store as an irrelevant mess.

Macy's Eyes New Look for Brooklyn Store (WWD)
Retail Renewal: What Does The Macy's Renovation Mean For The Rest Of The Chain?