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More Collaboration News:

Bleecker's Black Fleece
Opens Today

Brooks Brothers' exclusive boutique dedicated to Thom Browne's luxury Black Fleece collection is slated to open today after months of inactivity at the Bleecker Street site followed by a burst of speedy renovation.
We are just the out the door to see it for ourselves, but we are a little disappointed that Brooks Brothers was unable to create the elegant façade depicted in the rendering that was released when the store was announced in June. After all, if you are going to add to the Bleecker Street mall, you should at least give things an aesthetic lift like Coach did.
The good news is that, according to WWD, the prices for the collection have dropped about 30%. Brooks Brothers attributes this to a stronger dollar internationally lowering the prices for the Italian production, but we are speculating that a little margin narrowing has probably gone into effect as well to make the collection more appealing. We actually like the fit and make of Black Fleece better that Browne's signature collection, so this is a welcome development.
Brooks Brothers Opens Black Fleece Store (WWD)

Collaboration Report:

UNIQLO Goes All- American
For Spring Designer Invitations

UniqloDI UNIQLO has announced the designers for its annual Designer Invitations program, and as previously leaked, it will include hometown favorites Steven Alan and Opening Ceremony. The surprise this year is that every participant is American. In seasons past, the event has included designers we have never heard of from Japan, Brazil and other far away lands, but this time the folks at UNiQLO have kept their sights focused on New York. The other participants include the Trovata veterans Shipley & Halmos and artisanal denim and sportswear label Gilded Age.
First up in March will be a Steven Alan collection for women and an Opening Ceremony line for men, followed in May by a Shipley & Halmos womens collection and Gilded Age for men with prices for all ranging from $19 to $79.
This is always a great opportunity for New Yorkers to get designer collaboration goods that, so far, nobody else in America has access to, but Alan explains the real attraction  for designers to WWD,

Like the other participants, Alan accepted the Uniqlo assignment because he thought it would give him exposure in other markets. “[Uniqlo] has 800 stores,” he said. “We have stores in South Korea through a licensing partner. I sell to stores in Italy and the U.K. I would consider opening stores abroad if the response was good.

The other added plus is the nice hunk of cash that any young designer can use, as well as illuminating exposure to mass production techniques generally not available to a small company.
All of these designers make clothes for men and women, but in this case each is limited to a single gender category. Maybe next year we will get to see a broader collection (which means that we are bummed that Steven Alan and Shipley & Halmos are only making womenswear for UNIQLO). We'll have more information on launch dates as soon as we get it so you can line up early.
Behind us.
Uniqlo's Visiting Designers (WWD)

Costume Exhibition Du Jour:

FIT Pours On The Seduction

Halstonseduction If you haven't made it down to The Museum at FIT to see its outstanding exhibition, Gothic: Dark Glamour, then we strongly suggest you hurry on down there since it closes on February 21st. While you are there, be sure to stop into the museum's Fashion and
Textile History Gallery on the street level for Seduction: 250 Years of Sexuality in Fashion, a survey of what constituted alluring apparel over the last two and a half centuries.
While our contemporary culture has no shortage of sexy clothes and the people who wear them (hello, Pussycat Dolls), it's always interesting to see how in times past the hint of a waistline, fabric softly draped over the bosom and a slightly low cut shoe equated major flirtation.
The show is pulled entirely from FIT's treasure trove of an archives, and runs until June 16th which coincidentally is the day the museum's Isabel Toledo retrospective is scheduled to open.
Like all FIT's exhibitions, Seduction is free of charge, no small consideration these days.
Seduction: 250 Years of Sexuality in Fashion through June 16th 2009 at The Museum at FIT Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, closed Sundays & Mondays

Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

Post-Bling Edition

29crit.1.largeThere may be no group of stores more intimidating than the lineup of international jewelers who have taken up residence on Madison Avenue in recent years.
Today's Critical shopper, Cintra Wilson does us all the favor of visiting the newest addition to this group, France's Mauboussin in the Thursday Styles.
Her initial reaction to the atmosphere is somewhat bewildering, describing it as "designed by Jean Cocteau’s Freudian analyst on a laudanum bender..."
Is that good or bad?
The gist of her report is that Mauboussin, despite being nestled amongst the boulder sized diamonds of Graff, Kwiat and Leviev, is actually meant to be more accessible, offering a wider range of more accessibly priced baubles. Well, accessibility is all relative in this neighborhood, although we have to be impressed by the jeweler's strategy. They are shrewdly placed to catch the customer who is suddenly no longer in the market for a twenty carat cocktail ring, but may still be be tempted by the cachet of marginally humbler jewels from Paris.
For sheer gawking pleasure, however, we have to say that when we walked past the store only a few days ago, Mauboussin's more humanly scaled trinkets paled in comparison to the immense diamonds in the windows of its neighbors. Never mind that the rocks probably cost the equivalent of a couple of classic sixes on Park Avenue. They sure were sparkly.
Critical Shopper | Mauboussin: These Jewels Look Smaller in France By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Mauboussin 714 Madison Avenue between 63rd and 64th Streets

New York Fashion Week Update:

Bryant Park Show
Will Go On... In Secret

As we get ready for Fashion Week, which starts in almost two weeks, we have noticed that one of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week's usual highlights, the Project Runway Finale runway show remains at its usual 9 AM time slot on the final Friday.
Normally, we would been in the middle of watching the latest season, and while that it has been filmed, in Los Angeles for the first time, it has yet to air thanks to the bitter dispute between Bravo, the show's former home and Lifetime, where producer Harvey Weinstein moved it, igniting the current epic legal battle.
The New York Post pondered how they could possibly stage the finale if nobody has yet seen the first minute of the season.
We know how.
While the show itself is always a sought after ticket, it, like all other Bryant Park shows, has always been silently broadcast live on the many video screens inside IMG's tent complex for everyone with registered access to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, like, for example The Shophound. In addition, photo services like Wire Image and Getty Images have an extensive array of still photos available online within hours of the show, so by the time the finale actually airs, many are already familiar with the looks. Of course all contestants who have not yet been eliminated on the air present a collection, adding a couple of designers to the show who are not actually finalists, but have to participate to avoid spoilers.
What happens though, when nobody has been eliminated?
We have it on good authority, that while the show will go on, nobody really knows exactly when or where it will air. We are willing to bet that, this time, there will be no video feeds outside the tents, and we expect no photos to show up on line afterwards. We do know that potential invitees are being asked to sign a series of non-disclosure agreements before being confirmed as guests. Additionally, they are requested to appear at the big tent no later than 6 AM on Friday, February 20th, which suggests either that there will be an extensive security check for easily hidden cameras or video equipment, or that every contestant will be showing a mini-collection, which could easily make for a very loooonng taping.
Will they be able to keep the show completely hidden from the series' rabid fans? We will have more on this as it develops.
Can 'Runway' Make It Work? (NYPost)

Today In Renovations:

Bloomingdale's Slowly Reveals
More New Men's Department

This week, Bloomingdale's has taken the plywood down to reveal yet another renovated men's floor at the 59th Street Flagship. What used to be a gloomy, mazelike suit department on a mid-level basement mezzanine has been opened up and whitewashed to create a stark new environment for designer collections like John Varvatos, Michael Kors, Helmut Lang and Theory as well as a new home (possibly temporary?) for socks and underwear. While the exposed pipes and ductwork would seem to be a minimalist style choice, it seems clear that covering them with a more refined ceiling might leave taller customers with bumped heads. Bloomingdale's is making the most of every available square foot. Off to the side, there appears to be space for a new restaurant that has yet to materialize.
We are happy to see that Bloomie's hasn't let the economy slow down this long overdue revamp (take a note, Saks!), as a walk through the store indicates that other men's areas are being closed off in preparaion for their transformations as soon as others are opened up. So far, the department looks to be about 70% completed with this update. It appears that the northern half of the men's main floor is close to being unveiled as well, which will be followed by the renovation of the southern half which is already being packed up.
So far, we are giving Bloomingdale's high marks for the upgrade not only in the atmosphere but also in the vendor mix downstairs in what used to be a disjointed dungeon of a men's department. Presumably, when its customers are finally ready for serious shopping again, the store will be ready for them.
Bloomingdale's Men's Store Lexington Avenue at 59th Street, Upper East Side
The New York Times reports that FLIP, a burger restaurant with a bar and a children's menu, will open on February 23rd in the newly renovated Men's Store.
Burgers. In the basement.
We certainly hope they have a good ventilation system.

Employment Update:

American Apparel Is Hiring

There's always a line on the sidewalk somewhere in this city. After a while, New Yorkers tend to credit their appearance to one of several standard options, including sample sales, open auditions, special celebrity appearances, iPhone launches or giveaways.
In this case, it's jobs.
This was the scene over the weekend outside American Apparel's Flatiron branch at 19th and Fifth where the chain was holding an open call for potential employees.
Most retailers are in retrenchment mode these days, laying off workers and closing underperforming branches, but not AA.
Despite its ongoing legal embattlements, American Apparel is continuing to open new stores, which means it has jobs to offer, hence the line of hopeful shopgirls and boys willing to spend the afternoon standing out in below freezing temperatures.
Apparently, this will be taking place every Sunday through the end of February, so interested parties still have a chance to freshen up their resumes and get in line.
We suggest you go early.

After the jump, more info regarding times and places

Continue reading "Employment Update:

American Apparel Is Hiring" »

Red Carpet Disappointment:

The Jolie-Pitts Get Hit
By The Ugly Stick

Joliepitts The Screen Actors Guild Awards were last night, offering yet another opportunity for glamorous Hollywood stars to get gussied up and pose on a red carpet as the second act in televised award show circuit leading up to the Oscars on February 22nd.
There were lots of pretty ladies in pretty dresses, and we can't possibly sift through them all. Style.com did, and you can see it here.
We do have to pause for a moment to ponder what we must call the curious case of the Jolie-Pitts, Angelina and Brad.
Here we have the two-time sexiest man alive with his companion who has been called the most beautiful woman in the world more times than anyone can count,
But not last night.
It would appear that both of them are on a campaign to subvert their natural beauty.
And how they have succeeded!
From what we can tell, Brad is finished filming Quentin Tarantino's WWII epic "Inglorious Basterds", so it would be time to lose that oily Errol Flynn mustache. He looks alright with it, but not nearly as good as he does without it. As for his Tom Ford suit, it looks well tailored but in desperate need of a tie. Also, it apparently is not a tuxedo, which it should be at a black tie event. And, finally, those pants are way too long, which is inexcusable in any event.
And on to La Jolie, who told E!'s Giuliana DePandi Rancic that she just wanted to wear something comfortable.
Well, shoot, Angie, you should have just worn your bathrobe. We're betting it looks a lot sexier than this drab, shapeless bit of Max Azria frumpery. Of course, she'll always have that gorgeous face, and thankfully, she had decided not to grow a mustache of her own, but geez! We're your fans. What did we do to deserve this?

Today In Lack Of Business Troubles:

Fishs Eddy Announces
Its Continuing Existence

It would seem that just staying in business is something of an accomplishment for a store these days.
The folks at Fishs Eddy, the ever popular purveyor of sturdy vintage and faux vintage tableware want to make sure everyone knows that they are definitely not going out of business or being dislodged from their longtime home at 19th and Broadway by a bank or Duane Reade.
To celebrate, They're having a nice sale which means that some of their well priced goods are really cheap now.
Of course, this clever promotional strategy would seem a little bit callous to the increasing number of unfortunate stores who have suffered the above listed fates, but hey, it's Fishs Eddy's karma. We're just telling you about it.
Fishs Eddy 889 Broadway at 19th Street, Union Square

Lounge Meets Its End
In The Limelight

So we were walking up Sixth Avenue this past weekend after a visit to The Container Store, when we noticed that the empty old church that once housed the infamous nightclub Limelight and its variously named successors had a new banner reading "Lounge". For an instant, we thought it was re-opening under yet another new name, until we realized that the banner was from the SoHo boutique that was recently forced to close and relinquish its space to an upcoming Victoria's Secret flagship store.
Lounge has engendered no small amount of ill will among customers over the past few months by inflating the original prices of its merchandise so that its deeply discounted "liquidation" prices were really closer to full retail (a practice which may actually be illegal) as well as reportedly dishonoring gift certificates and store credits among other unscrupulous procedures.
Now it seems that Lounge has taken up residence in the deconsecrated church to get rid of the last of the picked over dregs of its merchandise.
What's vaguely disconcerting is that in addition to the banner, Lounge has affixed one of its old signs next to the doors to the chapel/dance floor, suggesting that it may be using the space to run a "sample sale" for a while. It's hard to imagine that Lounge is planning to resurrect itself as a more upscale boutique in South Florida after leaving such a schlocky legacy in Manhattan.
As for its current incarnation, its always a bit odd to walk into a nightclub during daylight hours when the usual lights and music are not in effect, and even more so when the club is long past its legendary and scandalous prime. Now that it's been turned into a sample sale venue, the seediness is just overwhelming.
We're not sure if we're feeling nostalgic for the glittery Limelight of years ago, or if we're just annoyed that Lounge won't go away already. Frankly, we think New York could use a wild nightclub a lot more than yet another dodgy sample sale.
Previously: Relocations And Transitions: Retail Euthanasia Makes Way For Panties
Liquidation Update: Lounge Not Closing, But Migrating To Sunnier Climes