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Today In Liquidation:

Bankruptcy For Best & Co. Shutters
Children's Shop At Bergdorf's

Bestandco It's back to the trash heap of long lost stores for Best & Co. as Connecticut based retailer which has also been operating the children's department at Bergdorf Goodman is liquidating. The company which though a series of acquisitions is now part of Toys R Us, filed a Chapter 7 petition for liquidation Friday in New Jersey.
Originally remembered as a great Fifth Avenue department store, the Best & Co. name was revived in the late '90s by Susie (the former Mrs. Tommy) Hilfiger in Greenwich, Connecticut as a high end children's store featuring luxury clothes for children, often attracting designers to make special collections. It was a natural fit to take over a leased space on Bergdorf's 7th floor where children's clothing had been eliminated years before. The Greenwich store was precipitously shut on Saturday, and the Bergdorf's space will also close.
Hilfiger sold her company to FAO Schwarz in 2007, and Schwarz was acquired by Toys R Us last month. Presumably, the toy behemoth wanted little to do with a money-losing, exclusive specialty apparel business (can you blame them?). Bergdorf's is now listed among the company's creditors. From all reports, Toys R Us will continue operating the FAO Schwarz stores in New York and Las Vegas, but, for now, it's curtains for Best & Co.
Best & Co. Files Chapter 7 Liquidation (WWD)

Brooklyn Departures:

Yoko Deveraux Folds
After Times Spotlight

We have heard stories from retailers about how coverage in the Times' Critical Shopper column can add a nice boost to business, but it doesn't seem to have been enough to save Williamsburg hipster boutique Yoko Deveraux.
Only a few weeks after being showcased by Mike Albo in the Thursday Styles, The label has announced that it is folding due to its parent company's financial troubles. Perhaps Mike should have left out the part where he found the brand at a thrift shop down the street for a fraction of the price.
Putting a positive spin on things, the label is holding a "Liquidation Celebration" on its website right now at giveaway prices. The sale will open up to the Brooklyn store tomorrow through Thursday or until everything is gone including fixtures.
Get it while you can, skinny Williamsburg boys!
Discontinued: Hipster Ambassador Yoko Devereaux Shuts Down (Racked)
Critical Shopper | Yoko Devereaux: Walk a Mile in Their Droopy Cardigans (NYTimes)
Previously: Mike Albo Goes Shopping: Hipster Defense Edition

Weekend Specials:

A Pop-Up Flea Hits Nolita

Popupflea We can barely keep up with all the pop-up stores this city has to offer now, but the folks at the fine menswear blog A Continuous Lean have tipped us off to one that looks like it's worth checking out this weekend.
THE POP-UP FLEA will happen this afternoon at 4 PM and continue through Sunday at the Openhouse Gallery in Nolita. It features mostly guy stuff (sorry ladies) including offerings from Billykirk, Mark McNairy, Hattan, Alexander West, One Trip Pass, Alexander Olch, Aether, Aprix, 3Sixteen, Gitman Brothers Vintage, C’H'C’M and others. Food will be provided by Café Select, and there will be barbers from the buzzy new Lower East Side salon Tommy Guns for shaves and haircuts.
The Pop-Up Flea at Openhouse Gallery 201 Mulberry Street Between Spring & Kenmare Streets, Nolita

Click the picture for more info

Today in Semi-Permanent:

BLACK Comme des Garçons Sneaks
Open Under The High Line

Well, Comme des Garçons couldn't have picked a drearier week to open a store called "Black"
As you may have heard, the revered Japanese label has quietly opened a non-permanent boutique for its special collection celebrating the brand's 40th anniversary. The shop's installation has been remarkably speedy, because we walked by about a week ago and the store was completely empty. The tiny boutique has been created from a series of (apparently prefabricated) black panel fixtures holding racks placed to create shopping alcoves and dressing areas. The sales staff was quick to point out that new goods would be arriving periodically, and that the store was "sort of" temporary. It would be there for at least 18 months, and possibly more which makes it more than a Pop-Up, but less than a flagship. At any rate, CDG fans can rest easy that the shop will be there long after the "Black" in-store shop at Barneys is whisked away after a couple of weeks.
As for the merchandise, what we could see was a healthy selection of Comme Classics like cropped swallowtail jackets and boxy trousers in fairly basic black materials. There are purposely no innovative fabric treatments or complicated constructions here, which keeps the prices down. While about $500 for a jacket is not cheap by any stretch, it's a great price by typical Comme des Garçons standards.
Although it's tough to tell on a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, it looks like the die-hard fans have yet to find the store tucked away under the High Line. We hear Barneys' shop has been jammed, so anyone looking for a more civilized experience should head to Chelsea posthaste. They should know the neighborhood since the place is only a few blocks south of the main CDG store on 22nd Street.
CdgBlack The staff was careful to describe the collection to us as unisex, noting that the trousers and t-shirts in particular ran big enough for male customers (though we know that it was originally intended as a women's collection with the possibility of men's deliveries down the line). That distinction, however, is barely significant to a Comme customer, who is likely not to care as long as whatever it is looks and fits right. "Black" looks like the kind of signature basics collection that also serves as a great entry point for a brand that can be intimidating. We're betting that it will hang around longer than 18 months.
Black Comme des Garçons through ? at the Southeast Corner of 10th Avenue at 17th Street, Chelsea
Unexpected Recession Dividend: Comme des Garçons To Paint Barneys And Chelsea Black

The Spree:

Bartlett's Claiborne Pop-Up Extended
& Other News

Claibornepolo Our replacement swag polo shirt has arrived and it fits perfectly thanks to the fine folks at Claiborne by John Bartlett. We aren't the only ones who are pleased with the newly revamped label. The Claiborne Pop-up has been such a success at Bartlett's West Village store that it has been extended through this weekend. John promises to be on hand this Friday to work the register at 143 Seventh Avenue South at Charles Street. (Shophound Inbox)
And in other news:
• Starting this weekend, SoHo's Madewell will be bolstering its offerings with a special department of merchandise drawn from the Brooklyn Flea. (The Cut)
• Tell us something we don't know: Male models diet too. Surprise! (NYTimes)
Jennifer Lopez has shuttered her U.S. apparel business, but don't worry. You can still get J.Lo sweats overseas. (WWD)
Hollister is getting ready to out-Abercrombie itself with all sorts of titillating/offensive promotional measures building up to the big (sorry, "EPIC") store opening next month in SoHo. (RACKED)
• Aside from their usual sample sales, this Saturday, Gilt Groupe will be holding sale of special merchandise from the CFDA's Health is Beauty collection designed by Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Patrick Robinson and Talbots. Proceeds will benefit the CFDA's two health initiatives. Click HERE for the exclusive invitation you will need to shop the collection, and while you are there, check out the upcoming sales including Amrita Sing's jewelry, Zac Posen Handbags, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Hunter Boots wellies and, next Monday, Christian Lacroix.

Mike Albo Goes Shopping:

Outer Borough Sale Shop Edition

25critic.span This week's critical shopper Mike Albo discovers that in the world of Paul Smith, service levels directly correlate to discounts in the designer's various boutiques around the city.
The longtime Smith fan finds disappointment at the designer's recently opened sale shop in Williamsburg when the discounts are underwhelming and the sales staff's demeanor and storekeeping skills are downright disagreeable.

When I walked up to the new Paul Smith store in Williamsburg, one of the salesclerks, a young woman, was busy texting in the doorway. She looked up from her keypad. “Hihowareyou,” she said under her breath, with a dead face. (I am fluent in the language of retail, and this means: “Oh, great. A person.”)
“Oh, don’t worry!” I said, like the overfriendly doormat that I am. “You can keep texting!” She glared at me, turned and walked into the store.

Welcome to Williamsburg!
And yet, a few days, a bit of tidying up and, most importantly, a jump in the discount from 30% to 70% makes all the difference for Mike, just as it would for us.
We have to wonder, however, if Smith's year-round clearance store has anything to do with the vexing absence of a Paul Smith sample sale this season, which would be a bummer for us provincial Manhattanites. Are we now to trek to Williamsburg for our seasonal Paul Smith fix instead of having it practically carted to our doorstep via a jumbled room of bargains at the Chelsea Market? Such are the trials we have to suffer for our vocation.
Critical Shopper | Paul Smith Sale Shop: Where Happiness Is on Clearance By Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Paul Smith Sale Shop 280 Grand Street between Roebling and Havermeyer Streets, Williamsburg

Dueling Fashion Exhibitions:

Models Uptown VS.
Isabel Toledo Downtown

ToledoFIT2 New York has something of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fashion museums with a continuing roster exhibits not only from The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but also The Museum at FIT as well as occasional shows from the likes of the Museum of the City of New York and others. We are currently graced with two major shows including the Met's "The Model As Muse" extravaganza and FIT's "Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out". The two shows are so different that it is almost pointless to compare them, except that one succeeds admirably, and the other sadly disappoints.
Isabel Toledo's profile has risen dramatically since Michelle Obama chose the designer's now famous lemongrass wool lace ensemble to wear at her husband's inauguration in January. Curators Valerie Steele and Patricia Mears get that famous outfit out of the way quickly, showcasing it alone in the exhibit's anteroom. Famous as it is, it is not Toledo's most interesting work, although photos showing its creation reveal that the original design was slightly more elaborate.
Toledobroomsticklibrarian1 The show really starts in the museum's cavernous main room. While she has been well known to the public for only a few months, the designer has been admired by fashion insiders since her first show in 1985, and this presentation focuses on her rigorous design philosophy and innovative techniques, not unlike FIT's previous shows on Madame Grès and Ralph Rucci.
Most examples are accompanied by abstract flat sketches of the garments' patterns, illuminating Toledo's ingenious cutting methods. For all the focus on the technical details of dressmaking, the show could run the risk of becoming a dry academic exercise if it weren't for the gorgeous clothes. Toledo's style runs the gamut from puritanical to erotic (sometimes within the same outfit), and her wit and humor comes through in the mysterious alchemy that great designers work with their creations.
Her inventive hand with materials and sculpting garments puts her on a par with Rucci and Azzedine Alaïa, another Obama favorite. The show almost skips over Toledo's brief but promising tenure as the designer for a revived but aborted Anne Klein Collection (the accompanying catalogue goes into greater detail) except for a painstakingly tailored coat in pink wool and a series of silk pongee "Broomstick Librarian" dresses handpainted by the designer's husband and collaborator, Reuben. He also provides a 500 foot paper frieze filled with his inimitable drawings and paintings of his wife's work circling above the exhibition spaces.
It's their collaboration that is at the heart of the show –another strong and thoughtful showing from the team at FIT
And now uptown to the Met.

More about the Costume Institute after the jump as well as videos about both shows from The Met and New York Magazine.

Continue reading "Dueling Fashion Exhibitions:

Models Uptown VS.
Isabel Toledo Downtown
" »

Ralph, Marc & Bloomingdale's
Commemorate As Gay Pride
Hits Middle Age


Click Images For A Larger View In A New Window

It has become traditional as June wears on for Bleecker Street's boutiques to give a nod to the West Village's traditional but slowly vanishing character. This year, the 1969 Stonewall riots, which started the modern Gay Rights movement and took place only a few blocks from Bleecker, hit their big 40th anniversary.
Marc Jacobs, for one, has typically recognized Gay Pride, and this year he has festooned his women's and Accessory stores with rainbow graffiti and slogans. Thankfully, it appears that he has avoided revisiting last year's poorly received "Rebel Pride" t-shirt.
Now that he has even more Bleecker frontage, Ralph Lauren has upgraded his displays from the clever but spare racks of Polo shirts arranged in rainbow formation he has used in recent years. This year, he has added a more dynamic window design promoting a $10 "Live Colorful" tote bag his stores are selling to benefit the Hetrick Martin Institute. The bags read "I Kiss Girls" or "I Kiss Boys" depending on whom you feel like kissing (presumably, bisexuals will be encouraged to buy both).
Interestingly, the most respectful commemoration is not in the West Village, but a neighborhood away in SoHo, where Bloomingdale's has installed windows specifically referencing the uprisings that began at the Stonewall Inn. Mannequins free of merchandise depicting a retro Christopher Street scene are affectionately styled as West Village stereotypes (OK, the Madonna t-shirt is slightly less retro, but entirely appropriate) recalling some of the recently republished photographs of the riots including a protesting drag queen carrying a placard with her rebel cry:

We are the Stonewall Girls
We wear our hair in curls!
We wear our dungarees
Above our nelly knees!

Silly, yes, but still apparently effective.
Marc Jacobs 385 & 403-405 Bleecker Street
Ralph Lauren 381 & 383 Bleecker Street, West Village
Bloomingdale's 504 Broadway, SoHo

International Additions:

Desigual Erupts In SoHo

Ever wonder what it would look like if one of those old Putumayo stores got wasted on mushrooms and threw up all over the place? (and really, who hasn't?)
Ladies and Gentlemen we give you Desigual, the newest inhabitant of the Broadway storefront that most recently housed the reviled Kira Plastinina.
We're beginning to think this space is cursed.
Desigualmerch Desigual is a Spanish sportswear company with stores throughout Europe that sells through department stores like Macy's and is making its New York début with this store. There may, in fact, be one or two attractive items of clothing in this place, but you would need the sharpest of eyes and instincts to pick them out through the cacophony of prints and bedazzling that fills this shop.
As an improvement, Desigual has blacked out Kira's pink and white fantasia décor, but then graffiti'd its walls with self consciously cheery phrases like "It is not the same since 1984", and "Happy ideas all the time!!".
Desigualexterior Up on the mezzanine there is a men's or "Man-kid" department offering only slightly more subdued options that made us shudder a little. If this were a cheap, throwaway kind of store, we could understand it for teenagers or anyone with an affinity for LSD or other psychedelia, but unlike its compatriot, Zara, the prices at Desigual are more like those at Diesel, and by that we mean curiously high.
For now, the store is mostly hidden under scaffolding, which may be just as well. After being graced with more successful international imports like Topshop, Mango and even Eryn Brinié, we suppose it was only a matter of time until this sort of thing washed up on our shores.
Desigual 594 Broadway between Houston & Prince Streets, SoHo.

The Spree

Charity Shopping On Fire Island This Weekend
& Other Stories

Sos The Summer Charity Shopping tour usually stays in the Hamptons, but this weekend it will be jumping the bay to Fire Island Pines with Shopping On Sunday where a host of designers including Calvin Klein, Diesel, DSQUARED², Michael Kors and Prada will be offering more than 2000 discounted items for sale to benefit various LGBT charitable organizations. In addition, fashion shows will be staged throughout the afternoon by Project Runway alums, and up and coming designer Kai D will be offering 100 special t-shirts for the event.
Oh, and since it's the Pines there will obviously be an open bar, so drink up.
S.O.S. 11 AM - 3 PM, Fradd Theatre and Lepage Pavilion, Whyte Hall, Fire Island Pines (Shophound Inbox)

• An Australian Designer named Katie Perry who has been in business for two years is getting trademark heat from singer Katy Perry who may be starting a clothing line of her own... because that will help her sing better, of course. (Fashionista)
• Columnist Michael Musto was unceremoniously dumped from an ad campaign for Daffy's. Dodged a bullet there, Musto. (Village Voice)
• The crowd at the Dyptique sale is full of unruly, greedy candle freaks! (RACKED)
• The economy strikes: Adam Lippes ditches menswear for now. He better not stop making those t-shirts. (WWD)
• You like model Tao Okamoto's cute little haircut? Thank 81-year-old Vidal Sassoon who basically invented it in the '60s and was just made a CBE (that's Commander of the British Empire -not quite a Sir) by Her Royal Majesty. (BBC)
Phillip Lim's Los Angeles  boutique looks even more dramatic than the SoHo one. Undulating walls are the new minimalist white box. (Selectism)
• Iconic British coatmaker Crombie will be rescuing iconic British trench coatmaker Aquascutum from oblivion. (Financial Times)
• A look backstage at a Dolce & Gabbana underwear shoot starring the Italian Swim Team. Yes, that's the Italian Swim Team. There's video too. You're welcome. (SWIDE)
The Strand Bookstore has finally eliminated that pesky bag check as legions of literary murse carriers rejoice! (RACKED)
Coach designer Reed Krakoff, ever in search of exclusive prestige, is said to be developing an eponymous line at the company. (Fashion Week Daily)
• Get ready to channel your inner Norma Desmond. Turbans are coming back! (Refinery 29)
• In the event that it keeps raining (and it looks like it will), you will probably find yourself surfing Gilt Groupe who will be offering sales from Geren Ford , Richard Chai Men's, Habitual, INHABIT and Barton Perreira Sunglasses among others over the weekend. Click HERE for your exclusive invitation.