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Bleecker Street Moves:

Ralph Lauren's New Bleecker
Shop Goes To The Girls

Ralph Lauren's speedy turnaround on Bleecker Street is a hair away from completion, while we have been Insideralphbleecker_2 speculating for weeks about what would go into the store, now we have confirmation. The new, larger space at the corner of Bleecker and Perry Streets will house an expanded women's store, previously across the street. That explains the new, brightly whitewashed exterior, which matches its predecessor and contrasts with the black paint on his still tiny men's store next door.
Originally, we thought L'Uomo's former digs might become a showcase for his men's Purple and Black Labels, but really, doesn't it make the most business sense to expand the women's boutique?
Yes, it does, and now that it's no longer a cramped little stall, it will probably become a mint like Ralph's other Manhattan stores.
Ralphlaurenkidsbleecker And does that mean the former women's space across the street will now become available?
Don't be silly. In a colonization plan that rivals his conquest of the block between 71st and 72nd Streets on Madison Avenue, Ralph is keeping the other space for another store concept which, judging by the baby blue bow on the window, is likely to be an infants and children's clothing shop.
That makes Ralph the champ on Bleecker with four separate shops on the street. Marc Jacobs is close on his heels with three shops (but still five total in the West Village), and James Perse hangs in third place with two.
The new women's store is currently crawling with PRL staffers clad in their instantly recognizable company wardrobes, scurrying to make sure that each display is placed just so. Look for it to be open by this weekend, if not before.

Happy New Year

Posting may be a little light on The Shophound for the next couple of days due to the Jewish Holidays.
We'll be back in full force on Wednesday. In the meantime we'll be busy counting the black models from the major Paris Prêt à Porter shows.
As regular readers know The Shophound doesn't normally get that political, but this is an intriguing issue for us, and we think it's important.
Have some apples & honey, and we'll see you in a few days.

Breaking TV Fashion News:

Court Orders Project Runway
Cycle 6 Put On Hold

Although the fifth cycle of Project Runway is still a few weeks away from its finale, a whole new cycle was set to début on Lifetime this January after a controversial deal that moved the show from its original network, Bravo. None too pleased at the development, Bravo filed suit in short order, and today, a New York judge issued a preliminary ruling against The Weinstein Company preventing it from airing the show on Lifetime.
Bravo and parent company NBC Universal maintain that they were denied their right of first refusal to renew the show, and The Weinsteins obviously disagree. Production of the sixth cycle is already under way in Los Angeles, where part of the season will be taped for the first time, and presumably will continue. When or where the show will air is now very much in question after this early victory for Bravo.
For our part, the timing of starting a new season in January makes little sense. Usually, a few finalists would be expected to show their collections at Bryant Park during Fashion Week, which in this case would be sometime in Mid-February. Last season's finale runway show was held on February 8th. If they are to show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week again, there would have to be a huge number of ineligible collections from already eliminated contestants on the runway to avoid spoilers, since the show's aired finale wouldn't occur until Late March at the earliest. This season, Joe and Suede showed full collections that will never see airtime (a blessing believe us) only because their eliminations had not yet been broadcast.
Was Lifetime planning to send its finalists for Season 6 to the very much second-rate Los Angeles Fashion Week? That would be not only a huge disappointment to the contestants but could also call the show's hard-won credibility into question. Because, really, Los Angeles Fashion Week?
Court proceedings should resume in November, so until then, Tim, Heidi, Nina and Michael will have to sit tight.

Today In Retail Shakeups

Lord & Taylor Does
The Executive Shuffle

LordandtaylorChange is afoot at Lord & Taylor.
President and CEO Jane Elfers is set to be replaced by NM Direct President Brendan Hoffman as parent company Hudson's Bay Trading Co. exerts more management control over its newly organized divisions. The Bay was acquired  last July by L&T's parent NRDC Equity Partners who is reorganizing its retail properties under the aegis of the venerable Canadian chain. Lord & Taylor will now fall under the purview of Jeffrey Sherman, CEO of HBTC, who is said to be taking a more direct role in management of all the chains.
That leaves Elfers out of the picture, despite the much admired job she has done, first in distinguishing Lord & Taylor from its more moderate siblings as part of the May Company, and later upgrading the store's image and assortments in efforts to escape its reputation as a staid, promotional department store.
There is still plenty of work to be done at Lord & Taylor, not the least of which includes a much discussed renovation and reconfiguration of the chain's Fifth Avenue flagship.
Let's hope that the new organization will complete L&T's much anticipated turnaround smoothly.
Elfers, Weikel Are Out at Lord & Taylor (DNR)

New Jewels On Madison

Mauboussin Plans A
Splashy U.S. Début

Economic downturn? What economic downturn?
We knew French jeweler Mauboussin was opening its first stateside store this fall, but we didn't know it was going to be a five level flagship extravaganza designed by David Rockwell.
The first three floors of the 6,000 square foot store, opening next month, will be devoted to jewelry, while the fourth floor will be a "gourmet" level featuring mostly chocolate. They have to put the candy three flights up?
The top floor will hold the requisite VIP salon.
Mauboussin's president, Alain Nemarq tells WWD: “We wanted to find a new way to present bijoux. We want to shake up the usual way and create a place full of air centered on active women who are interested in fashion and jewelry.”
Given the ever increasing jewelry competition on Madison Avenue and the challenging retail climate, Mauboussin had better be pulling out all the stops. So far, high-end retail in New York is still holding its own even as business slips throughout the rest of the country, and if the European tourists keep coming, they may very well flourish. Nemarq isn't daunted by current financial uncertainty as he says, “The U.S. is a huge opportunity for us. It’s 35 percent of the worldwide jewelry trade. And it’s a key moment in America. The society is changing. How else can you explain the arrival on the scene of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin? These are fundamental signs of change.”
Here's to positive thinking.
French Jeweler Mauboussin to Open U.S. Boutique (WWD)

Milan Fashion Week Observations

Diversity Report Redux:
Milan Is Falling Short

No, we're not in Milan.
New York is more than enough Fashion Week for us, but we can't stop noticing the model casting for Milan's Spring shows. We have surveyed 9 of the most prominent and influential Milanese shows so far, (with a few major ones still to come) and have come to the conclusion that New York's small improvements in diversity have been mostly lost on the Italians.
It should be noted that in New York, many designers expressed disappointment after the shows that few minority models were available, and many were pulled from them for more prominent shows, leaving them with much whiter casts than they had intended to have. We chose to focus on Italian designers with enough clout to cast pretty much any model they might want, which is proved when you look at the rest of the girls in their lineups.
3 major shows, Giorgio Armani, Marni and Jil Sander had no Black or Asian models at all.
Gucci and Prada both had only 1 black model. Of the ones we surveyed (and in all fairness, we can't break down each and every designer) the only show to impress us with diversity was Bottega Veneta with 4 Black models and 1 Asian.
You would think that things would be better in the home of Italian Vogue, whose recent Black Issue raised the racial question.
After the jump, the numbers we compiled

UPDATED: More shows, more weak numbers

Continue reading "Milan Fashion Week Observations

Diversity Report Redux:
Milan Is Falling Short
" »

Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

San Gennaro Festival Edition

24crit5We don't really know Cintra Wilson, but we kind of thought we knew her or at least understood her aesthetic. We would have expected that this week's Dolce & Gabbana loving, post-Goth Critical Shopper in today's Thursday Styles would have been immediately drawn to the sleek, severe style at Staerk, designer Camilla Staerk's new boutique on Mulberry Street. She braved the zeppole stands to visit the shop, but sadly, either La Cintra is harder to fit than we thought, or (more likely) Staerk, like many small, independent designers, may need to work on her production and fit specs.

Most disappointing were the liquid jersey tank tops ($120). The fault was all mine: They’re luscious; I just don’t wear necklines cut below my rib cage. Likewise a racer-back gown ($700) was terrifically sexy, but so low cut as to actually fall directly underneath my bust line.

Well, nobody really wants that.
Critical Shopper - Staerk: That Dark, Haunting Look by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Staerk 182 Mulberry Street between Broome & Kenmare Streets, Little Italy

Midweek Spree


Début opens on Mulberry street carrying exclusively emerging, untested designers. (Heard On The Runway)
• The (don't call them the) Olsen Twins will be launching a shoe line for their Elizabeth & James line next year in collaboration with... Steve Madden? And just when we were getting to like those magic little elf twins. (WWD)
• Blow by blow reporting on the extravaganza that is the Hermès Sale. (RACKED)
Tom Ford will reportedly start shooting his first feature film in November with Julianne Moore, Colin Firth and Jamie Bell. Of course, what this really means is that once the movies are out of his system he will get to work on the Women's collection everyone has been waiting for. (E! Online via Popnography)
Prada's shoes for next Spring were so high and unstable that models were stumbling and falling all over the runway. And those girls walk around for a living. (On The Runway)

Trunk Show Alert:

Leffot Lands A
Graziano & Girling Event

Leffot Right now, our favorite new store is Leffot.
Never mind that there's basically nothing inside that we can afford, and we already have shoes coming out of our ears. We always look forward to the opportunity to take a tour around its table to gaze at the city's most perfectly curated selection of meticulously crafted men's shoes. If it's trendy flash you are into, keep walking. Leffot's stock is purely classic, but supremely sophisticated.
Deangirling Today, Dean Girling of Graziano & Girling will be appearing in the shop to take orders for the brand's Bench Made and Bespoke lines, and Leffot will be waiving the $100 special order fee during the event. It's the least they can do when Bespoke orders can top out at around $6,000. Think of it as an investment in fine craftsmanship.
Don't be intimidated by the prices, however. It's in the laid back West Village, and we have never felt anything less than welcome in Leffot even though we have only been in for some serious browsing and to study the finer points of men's footwear.
Leffot 10 Christopher Street at Gay Street, West Village (Blog).
New Shoe Additions: Leffot Adds Luxe To Christopher Street

East Village Empire Building:

Odin Expands Once More
With Pas De Deux For Ladies

There are two ways to expand your store when the space next door becomes available.
One (the conventional method) is to simply knock down the walls and make the place bigger. The other, which is the method the folks behind Odin on East 11th Street, Eddy Chai and Paul Birardi, have chosen, is to open another store with different but related focus.
Last year we were treated to the opening of Den, which rotates a single label every couple of  months, showcasing new brands and favorites from Odin's vendor list, and now, on the other side of the father ship, Pas De Deux, a women's counterpart, has made its début, ready to take on the powerful troika of Scoop, Intermix & Big Drop, and making a mini-retail empire in the East Village.
Long and narrow, like its progenitor, The new store has its own distinct, retro-plush décor with chandeliers and soft draperies that feel more uptown that East Village. While it carries many of the same labels as Odin, it has bolstered its assortment with lines like Clu and Loeffler Randall that, so far, are just for ladies. The genteel ambiance is a welcome contrast to the hectic, "white box with packed racks" environments of its aforementioned competition.
The staff (of three on a quiet Monday afternoon) is genial and friendly, and though the store is as tiny as its siblings, they make it warm and inviting. We are already willing to predict that, like Odin, Pas De Deux is only an appetizer for a much larger satellite in a higher profile location in short order.
Pas De Deux 328 East 11th Street, East Village