Gwyneth Goes Live At Columbus Circle's GOOP MRKT

For whatever reason, Gwyneth Paltrow has become one of those celebrities that "the internet" just loves to try to take down a peg or two. Is it just a result of being a successful flaxen-haired beauty who has an Oscar? Who knows, but when she started Goop, her email newsletter turned lifestyle enterprise, people really got their hackles up despite the venture's obvious success and warm reception among her actual fans. Paltrow has brought her business to another level today by opening Goop MRKT, a Holiday pop-up store at The Shops at Columbus Circle which will run through December 24th. This is her fourth Goop shop, but her first in Manhattan. We are sure that her band of critics will have their knives out, but, honestly, when The Shophound breezed by the shop earlier today, we couldn't find a great deal to criticize. The modestly sized shop neat the 58th Street entrance to the shopping center has been spruced up with a paint job, some judiciously applied moldings and a few eclectic chandeliers. While we will not exhaustively catalog the contents of the shop, we can say with confidence that if this is an expression of her personal style and favorite items, then the woman has some damned good taste.
There are three sections, with one each devoted to food, cosmetics and fragrances and fashion. The food section, which includes a cappuccino machine presumably installed to serve customers, features a combination of cookbooks, new items like Staub cast iron cookware and antique pieces like a particularly eye-catching set of green and white Bavarian chinaware in the window among other items. In the next section there are soaps, fragrances and other cosmetic items, but the main thrust of the store appears to be fashion and accessories, including an exclusive capsule collection of star-spangles separates inspired by Wonder Woman designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri for Valentino. There are antique watches and jewelry items mixed in with brand new accessories, and the label roster includes labels like Nili Lotan, Carven and Stella McCartney to name a few. For a pop-up, it seems quite well merchandised, more like something that could sustain itself far longer than 31 days, perhaps indefinitely. Is it expensive? Sure, but so are about a thousand other stores in New York, so that's hardly much of a criticism. Really there was only one thing that we could find to criticize —that name, Goop MRKT
What? You're too good for vowels now, Gwyneth?

Goop MRKT through December 24th at 10 Columbus Circle at 58th Street, Upper West Side


Nautica & Lands' End Pop-Ups Push Upscale

Let's just put it out there, The Shophound can sometimes be easily swayed by food.
The prompt offer of hot chocolate and cookies from the nearby City Bakery upon our entrance to Nautica's Holiday season pop-up store (pictured above) in the Flatiron District a couple of days ago was a smart move on the part of the moderate department store mainstay brand. We declined the cookies, mainly because we didn't want to look like too much of a hog, but who can pass up City Bakery hot chocolate? That's not some cheap cup of Swiss Miss, and besides, it forced us to browse for at least long enough to finish sipping our rich and creamy treat.
Oh, yeah, the store. Why we found there was a bit different from what you'll come across in pretty much every Macy's in America. Nautica, like nearly every middle of the road menswear brand is looking to capture an upscale customer who won't be caught in a moderate department store. That's why they have made a special collection for the shop, which features luxurious cabled cashmere sweaters and a sweet raw denim peacoat in place of the more prosaic chinos, windbreakers and polo shirts that the brand is known for. To complement the offerings, Nautica has added Jeans from 7 for All Mankind and Jansport backpacks instead of counterparts from their own brand to mimic the label mixing at the stores like J.Crew and Club Monaco whose customers it hopes to attract. In addition, the store is relaunching the Nautica women's line in the U.S. with similarly uplifted items. Will the gambit work? Nautica's signature navy and white palette has classic appeal at any price point, and boating as a pastime always has an air of the upper classes about it. It remains to be seen if Nautica will be embraced by the more affluent customer it is chasing after so many years of stylish runway shows snd presentations of collections never seemed to fully materialize at retail, but the store shows that the brand can make a case for a more elevated product line if they manufacture it and give people a chance to see it up close.
A similar strategy is under way on a larger scale at the Lands' End temporary store at the long empty Fifth Avenue site (below) that has been home to a string of former Liz Claiborne-owned brands (Liz, Mexx, Juicy Couture) for the better part of two decades until that conglomerate broke apart a few years ago. Most of Juicy's glitz has been finally erased from the space except for the elaborate wrought-iron and brass railing on the staircase connecting the two levels. Stripped down to concrete floors, the store's makeshift ambiance is emphasized by unfinished wooden fixtures and installations (pictured above) which is the perfect backdrop for. . . more cashmere!
Eager to shed the association with its former parent company Sears, Lands' End is also looking to upgrade its fashion image along with its customer base, and what better way to do that than with the multi-ply cashmere poncho that greets customers as they enter the store or maybe a surprisingly trendy navy and white sailor stripe crewneck? With some high profile new execs with tonier backgrounds, the company has hinted that it may stick around at its current Fifth Avenue home permanently. At the moment, it is offering a highly curated array of classic items from its vast inventory in addition to the cashmeres. Chief in the offerings is outerwear, a Lands' End staple. The menswear in particular is showing the touch of its new creative director with more colorful jackets and classic heavy flannel shirts in in updated prints. There are plenty of Holiday gift items, of course, but, more importantly, Lands' End has a whole bar and lounge serving hot chocolate along with its own chocolate mint and salted caramel cookies. After all it will be important to keep your energy up during the upcoming shopping season.

Nautica Pop-Up Shop 134 Fifth Avenue between 18th & 19th Streets, Flatiron District
Lands' End Holiday Pop-Up Shop 650 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street, Midtown


The Gap Says It's Already Christmastime

Yes, the leaves on the trees are just in the midst of changing, but as The Shophound Strolled past the Gap store on lower Fifth Avenue yesterday, it appears that the chain has decided to skip Autumn and Thanksgiving and head straight for Christmas. The early onset of Holiday shopping promotion has been with us for quite some time now, and there aren't strict rules, exactly, but, generally, shoppers shouldn't be seeing holiday decorations or windows until about a week or so before Thanksgiving —two at the earliest. In fact, pushing Holiday shopping before that tends to seem annoying, not to mention tasteless, and shoppers generally hate it.
Not so at the Gap, however. The giant illuminated snowflakes are now securely installed in the store's windows for at least the next two months (pictured above). The mannequins are swathed in festive knitted hats, sweaters and scarves (it was 71˚ Fahrenheit outside yesterday) and the message on the window, in case the point was not yet clear, reads: "Warmest Wishes. Give Joy, Give Love." Inside, the store's walls are festooned with more snowflakes and gift boxes with messages like "Give Gifts, Give Love" posted around the store (pictured below).
While we appreciate the extra work it takes to get a store, let alone an entire chain, ready for Holiday shopping, we also know that it is possible to get things started too early. It makes us appreciate all the more stores like Nordstrom, which has staunchly followed a holiday decorating rule of putting up Holiday decorations on the day after Thanksgiving and taking them down immediately after Christmas. Perhaps when they finally arrive in Manhattan, their example will offer some stronger influence to stores that just can't help themselves from jumping the gun.


The Pop-Up Flea Returns Today
(Now For Women, Too!)

PopUpFleaLogoAfter a worldwide sojourn taking it from Tokyo to Detroit to London, a favorite New York shopping event, the Pop-Up Flea, returns home this afternoon. This season, the event has grown enough to take over the easily accessible Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea with what looks to be more vendors than ever including, for the first time, some which will offer items for women such as Clare V., Steven Alan and Nova fragrances. Now lady shopping companions will have something for themselves, and guys can take the opportunity to pick up some more Holiday gifts to support the pretense that they are not just shopping for themselves. As usual, there will be lots of vintage items as well as newly manufactured merchandise that meets the particular quality standards of promoters Randy Goldberg and Michael Williams. Regular Fleagoers will recognize popular vendors like Isaora, Red Wing, Tanner Goods and Lotuff as well as some intriguing new additions. The market opens today at 3 and runs through 6 Pm on Sunday, so get you best flannel shirt out and your most carefully weathered artisanal denim jeans and make time for some tasty shopping.
Have a look at the full vendor list and a preview video after the jump

The Pop-up Flea Today through December 14 at the Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenues, Chelsea

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Holiday Shopping With J.Crew, Kiton, John Varvatos & Capsule Market Square

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It's the Holiday Season everyone, and it you have survived the onslaught of Black Friday Week/Cyber Monday promotion, then you have arrived at regular old Tuesday and can really save some money at the over 50 sample sales that are scheduled for this month (at least the ones that we officially know of). This week skews heavily toward menswear for some reason, but there are still some bright spots for ladies starting with the event that can reliably get customers to line up on the sidewalks of lower Fifth Avenue, the J.CREW SAMPLE SALE which starts today. As we have mentioned countless times before, better svaings can often be had at J.Crew's in-store clearances offering 30% to 40% off reduced merchandise, but the sample sale offers all kinds of opportunities, mainly because it seems to be composed mostly of actual samples including alternate fabrics, colors and styles that you won't find in the stores. It's a random mix, as we discovered at the preview last night, with most prices at around 60% to 75% off retail. FOR WOMEN, at 260 Fifth, there was a particular abundance of shoes and handbags and while women's main label and Madewell items were carefully organized, there was a vast but wildy varying mix of one-off items of every sort of category priced as marked. Most cashmere sweaters were $90, for example, but the system allows for special pricing for a special piece.
Over at 225 Fifth, the smaller MEN'S SECTION was similarly organized with lots of the label's increasingly popular tailored clothing separates. Prices were fairly decent ($15 tees, $25 woven sportshirts, $90 cashmeres in color order, etc.), but don't count on making a matching suit of pants and a jacket. There was also a strong outerwear selection including down vests and jackets and plenty of overcoats, for now anyway. Accessories were a little bit lacking, but early birds will nab some nice cashmere scarves for a mere $20. Restocking is promised, and reductions can generally be expected before the end of the sale on Sunday but how often and how much remains to be seen. (Have a look in the gallery above)
Of course, that's not all. There are plenty more opportunities to get your Holiday Shopping done this week:

KITON's sale started yesterday at Soiffer Haskin, for the impeccably tailored and deep-pocketed. Reductions have already been taken, but expect to invest some major funds if you want to outfit yourself from one of Naples' finest tailors. Runs though Thursday the 4th.

EDDIE BORGO's modern jewelry will be on sale starting today through Thursday in NoLita. Look for bold pieces for men and women starting at $30.

Starting on Wednesday, two-time CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist WES GORDON will be offering deep discounts from 60% to 75% off on his women's designer collection through Thursday. Prices start at $100 in the Financial district.

Also on Wednesday, JOHN VARVATOS will return to the Sample Sale circuit at Chelsea Market through the weekend. There was once a time years ago when Varvatos held frequent sample sales, but then he stopped holding them altogether and became a frequent presence on flash sale sites like Gilt and RueLaLa. Who can say why strategies change, but Varvatos is back on the scene. Expect to find his apparel collections and plenty of shoes.

Another CFDA favorite, OVADIA & SONS will be holding their sale in their SoHo showroom on Thursday and Friday featuring their modern classic menswear along with shoes, accessories and various other objects of inspiration.

The quirky team behind upstart menswear label ORLEY (yes, another CFDA/Vogue finalist) are holding what we think is their first sample sale starting on Friday through the weekend. Look for bright colorful USA made knitwear and sportswear from previous seasons at up to 80% off.

Flamboyant shoe designer SOPHIA WEBSTER will be offering some alternatives for women over the weekend in the West Village. Look for her highly embellished footwear starting at $70.

Finally, Soiffer Haskin is offering a luxury triple-header starting on Saturday featuring crystal from LALIQUE, jewelry, watches and silver from BUCCELLATI,  and lavish, exotic skin handbags from V.B.H. Once again, bring a hefty wallet.

If all that isn't enough, this weekend marks the return of CAPSULE MARKET SQUARE at Center 548 on West 22nd Street. The trendsetting trade show has created a special edition open to the public for the second year featuring booths from coveted designers most of whom use the opportunity as their de facto sample sale. Last year we saw great buys from MARK MCNAIRY NEW AMSTERDAM and NAKED & FAMOUS among many other Capsule Show stalwarts. Those designers are returning along with MAISON KITSUNÉ, WANT LES ESSENTIALS de la VIE, GOLDEN GOOSE, MASSIMO ALBA, VANESSA BRUNO, VIANEL and may others totaling 100 participants. It's a can't miss for cool shoppers, the coolest of whom will be getting first crack at the goods by buying tickets for the VIP shopping session on Friday night. Saturday and Sunday will be fully open to the public.

There's plenty more this week from TOCCA, NICHOLAS K, BEN-AMUN, NEST, ST.EMILE and much more. Keep an eye on the SALE ROLL at left for details and the inevitable late breaking sales that will appear without notice.


Bergdorf's Goes Artsy for The Holidays

Barneys wasn't the only store that unveiled its windows this week. Bergdorf Goodman also lifted the curtains on its Fifth Avenue windows which, this season, are devoted to the arts —all of them.
The Bergdorf's team, led by senior director of visual presentation David Hoey, decided to devote each of the windows to a major art form including literature, architecture, theater, painting, music, dance, sculpture and film. each window was designed separately out of its own set materials such as neon lights for the "Theater" window (pictured above), fabric, soft sculpture and needlework for "Literature" and nothing but paper and old blueprints for "Architecture". As always, the windows reveal incredible workmanship upon close inspection, drawing lingering crowds and making them pretty hard for folks like us to casually photograph. As they do every year, however, Bergdorf's has nearly all of them shot in detail on its own blog 5th/58th, which is the best place to see them if you can't get there in person.
Next week: Bloomingdale's and Saks unveil just before Thanksgiving.

Holiday Windows 2014: Inspired (5th/58th-Bergdorf Goodman)


Capsule Market Square Returns
In Three Weeks

The Shophound's favorite Holiday Shopping event of last year has announced its return, so mark your calendars. Capsule Market Square, a special three-day shopping event organized by the Capsule trade shows, will be held from December 5 - 8. This time it has moved from SoHo to Chelsea at Center 548, which will be familiar as a former location for the show in its earlier, smaller days. Once again, instead of a wholesale trade show, Capsule Market Square will feature 100 vendors with goods ready to buy and open to the general public including men’s and women’s ap­parel, accessories, home goods, art and furniture. The offerings are expected to include one-of-a-kind pieces, overstock, sam­ples, current merchandise and special products made just for the event. This would normally be enough of an attraction, but the big surprise last year was that many of the vendors were offering great discounts, so it turned out to be something of a very well-appointed sample sale including labels like Mark McNairy and Naked & Famous and many more who aren't often found on the regular sale circuit.
Okay, so we really only wound up buying gifts for ourself, but still, it was one of the best shopping opportunities of the season.
The vendor list is yet to be posted, but if it is anything like last year's, it should be quite an impressive collection, discounted or not. Friday night's session is a ticket VIP-only event with tickets available HERE. Saturday and Sunday will be open to all comers, but if the sale offers are repeated, the $50 VIP ticket will be more than covered by the savings on great items that might be gone before public shopping starts. We'll have more information as it is released, but this one is definitely worth a mark on your calendars and a return visit this year.

Capsule Market Square December 5 - 7 at Center 548, 548 West 22nd Street, Chelsea


Barneys' Baz-Dazzled Holiday Promotion To Debut On Thursday
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's

Thanksgiving is kinda late-ish this year, which seems to have given New York's retailers license to unveil their Holiday windows as early as possible. Walk past Manhattan's big stores this week and see all the windows conspicuously shrouded as the visual teams furiously work to get those lights and tinsel trees in place. Barneys' highly publicized promotion with film director Baz Luhrmann is set to be unveiled tomorrow, just as the weather is finally expected to cool down to something reasonably appropriate for the Holiday season (it is currently 61˚F  outside as we type this). 
Barneys has a lot riding on the Luhrmann collaboration. It's Holiday promotions have hit sour notes for the past three years running which is particularly embarrassing for a store whose hilarious Holiday windows were once the talk of the town and one of the store's signature elements. This time, under Luhrmann's direction, the store will be going big and reintroducing some glitter and whimsy back into its newly super-serious minimalistic store. The Madison Avenue storefront will be covered with an elaborate façade (rendering pictured above), and, beyond just having animated displays, Luhrmann, is wife and creative partner Catherine Martin and designer Zaldy have been creating elaborate costumes for live performers who will appear in the windows and on the store's balconies throughout the season. Shoppers can look forward to ice skaters in the windows and a dancer/contortionist called Elphresh who will appear in a glittering gold romper. Weekends will bring the Queens of Night and Light appearing hourly on the store's second floor balconies in voluminous ballgowns to serenade the Madison Avenue crowds and more. We are cautiously optimistic that, after forays into celebrity, cartoons, ostentatious hip-hop-tinged special items and pretentious artsy-fartsy-ness, the folks currently running Barneys may have finally found their way back to the kind of sensibility that originally endeared New Yorkers to Barneys in the first place. If this Holiday promotion resonates with customers, maybe they will re-evaluate that "Taste! Luxury! Humor!" slogan they were so quick to dismiss.
Anyway, Barneys isn't the only store throwing itself a party tomorrow. Lord & Taylor, which is undergoing its own ongoing rejuvenation program, will be lighting up its windows on Thursday as well.
Bergdorf Goodman will be unveiling its windows, currently the city's most acclaimed, on Monday the 17th. The UNICEF Snowflake over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street will also be lit simultaneously, and 10% of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the U.S. fund for UNICEF.
Saks Fifth Avenue is conservatively holding its Holiday window reveal back until Monday November 24. With new ownership and management, the store is also looking to make a splash, so say goodbye to those illuminated dancing snowflakes on the façade that the store has presented in the past seasons. This year, Saks is promising The Rockettes themselves at the unveiling as well as a display from Fireworks by Grucci. The windows will pay tribute to the Roaring '20s and include brand new high-tech projections and lighting schemes. The launch will be live-streamed at Saks.com.
Bloomingdale's will be celebrating its windows on Monday as well with a live performance from Broadway star Idina Menzel at 5 PM on the Beacon Court of the Bloomberg Building across 59th Street along with the cast of the Off-Broadway show Illuminate.
Plan to leave work early.

The Holiday Race: Barneys Taps Baz Luhrmann For One More Shot At Holiday Glory


The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book For 2014 Has Arrived

Back in the olden days, when telephones were only connected to the wall and there were nothing but a meager four or five TV channels to watch, there was no internet to buy things with, but you could still shop from home with these books called catalogs. Department stores would send them out every season, and if you didn't live in a booming metropolis like New York where there is a vast choice of stores to shop in, you could still get a little bit of Saks, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf's or even Bonwit Teller or Marshall Field's (yes, they used to exist, too) sent to your house periodically. Early to Mid-October used to be the time of year when the splendor of Christmas catalogs would start clogging the mailbox. Nowadays, most catalogs have either given way to e-commerce sites or been morphed into "magalogs" showcasing the store's merchandise with more editorial flair but without order forms, instead, encouraging readers to either go online or make a visit in person.

One catalog remains to draw attention, however, and that is the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, an annual exercise in extravagance from America's most opulent department store chain. With Neiman's making plans to finally enter Manhattan, New Yorkers should get more acquainted with this curious compendium of the store's signature "Fantasy GIfts" and middle-of-the-road (for them anyway) gift items. Of course, even Neiman's has its monthly magalog, "The Book", which will have its own Holiday edition, but the Christmas Book is a product of NM Direct, the mail order division which explains why a $19,900 Akris ballgown is offered alongside a somewhat humbler $550 cocktail dress from better dress department mainstay Kay Unger. The Christmas Book even offers a $395 dress & jacket ensemble from Albert Nipon, a label we didn't even think existed anymore and is probably way below the opening price point to actually be found in Neiman Marcus stores, but the mail order catalogs from Neiman's were always a peculiarly inconsistent mix of status brands and comparatively downmarket merchandise.

But enough with the commercial offerings. What made the Christmas Book famous are the Fantasy Gifts, and this year they are as ridiculous as ever. There are ten of them (also available for online ordering) starting at the high end with a custom blended fragrance from the House of Creed for a whopping $475,000 (plus tax). It does come with a trip to Paris where you will personally take delivery, so there's that. For a little less, $425,000, you can travel to L.A. for three days to attend the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Like most of the Fantasy Gifts, this one has a charity component. It includes a $400,000 donation to the The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation which is "dedicated to supporting youth arts education in communities across the country", although that equation really makes it a $400,000 donation that comes with a $25,000 trip to Hollywood. This one should really be mostly tax-deductible, but you and your accountant can take that up with the IRS. For the hopelessly immature, there's a $300,000 1:32 scale model of your favorite racetrack complete with speeding cars from The Slots Mods USA. For fans of actual life-sized automobiles, there are exactly 100 100th Anniversary Neiman Marcus Limited-Edition Maserati Ghibli S Q4s for $95,000 each. Then in other vehicles, there is the obligatory His & Hers gift: the matching Vilebrequin Quadskis, a pair of Jet Ski/ATV hybrids complete with GoPro cameras and a training trip to the Gibbs Test Facility in Florida. Then there's the Ultimate Mardi Gras Experience for Six Couples ($125,000), Preston Bailey Peacock Floral Sculptures ($25,000-$65,000), Leontine Linens Home Trousseasu ($55,000), Custom Locket and Trip with Monica Rich Kosann ($100,000) and the Tanqueray No. Ten Imperial Shaker by Jason Crawley ($35,000) for the flamboyant martini drinker.

No matter how crazy the gift, Neiman Marcus claims never to have offered one that didn't find a buyer, if not several. Since it is the 21st Century now, however, you don't have to be on Neiman's mailing list to receive the Christmas Book. Anyone with an internet connection can now read it page by page HERE online in flip-book form, and consider the Holiday Season officially kicked off.

Neiman Marcus, The 2014 Christmas Book (Official Site)


Barneys Taps Baz Luhrmann For One More Shot At Holiday Glory

It has been a rough road for the current management team at Barneys New York when it comes to the Holiday Season. Last year's big Jay Z promotional effort collapsed as a particularly ill-timed discrimination scandal unfolded, forcing the cancellation of a gala launch event. Previous efforts involving Disney and Lady Gaga were criticized as off-key and off-brand for a store as sophisticated and exclusive as Barneys, but this year, it looks like the retailer is taking some steps toward the kind of promotion its customers have come to expect by joining forces with acclaimed Australian director Baz Luhrmann for a Holiday program to be called Baz Dazzled.
Luhrmann along with his wife and key collaborator Catherine Martin have developed a multi-platform initiative that will cover shopping bags (pictured above), in-store displays, special products and, of course, windows. The crest pictured on the bag will be the jumping-off point for the program with its artwork set to be re-created in the windows for a six-week run. “We’re entering a whole different world of theater film, costume design and performance,” said Dennis Freedman, Barneys’ creative director, tells WWD. “I hope people are going to be thrilled to see these woodland creatures come alive." Animated displays will have the windows moving round-the-clock and live performances will take place in them throughout the Holiday season. In addition, an elaborate facade will be constructed over the store's Madison Avenue façade.
Special limited edition items developed for the store will include, among other things, a handcrafted Champagne saber, children's costumes and a backgammon set. Expect to start hearing more about it around mid-November, which is not as far away as you might think.

Barneys Teams With Baz Luhrmann for Holiday Campaign (WWD)