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Inven.tory's Sly Window Pun

We couldn't possibly let this little play on words go unremarked upon.
We suppose that there are all sorts of ways to interpret the window design at SoHo outlet boutique Inven.tory, but it is most prominently a reference to the online designer discount phenomenon, Gilt Groupe. It is also, we are told, a nod to the store's staff and their exhausting work during last month's Save Fashion event which was staged at the packed store. With an ambiance that is more boutique than designer discount outlet, Inven.tory is always worth stopping into, and like many shops, it is already featuring warm weather resort wear in its rotating stock.
We have been promised that Inven.tory will be taking advantage of its big windows more in the future, so we'll be keeping an eye out for more.

Pop-Up Report:

Under Armour Gets Aggressive
On West 57th Street

Okay, we're just going to ask, What exactly does Under Armour mean by their commanding "Protect This House" slogan? It is plastered all over the athleticwear company's Holiday pop-up shop at 3 West 57th Street, and while it certainly sounds strong and powerful, it leaves us wondering, protect what house? -From what? -With what? Stretchy workout tops?
When we visited the store a few days ago, we were immediately greeted by an imposing, burly gentleman who swiftly asked us if we were shopping for anything in particular, or needed gift ideas. He was polite, but just a tad intimidating in a shirt that seemed fitted for a superhero. No, we, meekly replied that we were just looking, and slunk off to the racks of training gear. Under Armour, we have heard, has been growing like wildfire in popularity since it began in Baltimore less than 15 years ago. It is, we are told, technically advanced to enhance athletic performance, designed to regulate heat and perspiration to keep athletes generally comfortable so they can run faster, jump higher and score more touchdowns.
Since The Shophound does none of those things, and Under Armour has not yet developed a garment that will cut through crowds at the Barneys Warehouse Sale or get us past security at a Proenza Schouler show, we felt just a bit out of our element, or perhaps Under Armour was a bit out of its element right next door to Bergdorf Goodman. (Besides, as it is the Holiday season of Hannukah Donuts, we are not going anywhere in a stretchy top, no matter how much perspiration it wicks away.)
At any rate, our frame of reference for judging this particular store is admittedly flawed beyond reporting that it is crammed with lots of athletic clothing and shoes for Men, Women and Children, some stretchy, some marginally less so. If that is your cup of tea (or rather, bottle of electrolyte enhancing, energy boosting sports drink) then, by all means, head on over to 57th and Fifth where you will see official uniforms for the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Ski and Bobsled Teams.
Under Armour Pop-Up Store open through January 24th at 3 West 57th Street at Fifth Avenue, Midtown

Renovation Report:

Nordstrom Rack Starts From Scratch

We are pretty sure that the plywood is going to be restored any day now, but this morning everyone in Union Square got an eagle-eye view of what kind of the renovation is going on in the former Virgin Megastore site for the incoming Nordstrom Rack unit.
We certainly weren't expecting them to retain any of Virgin's interior, and it looks like the entire space has been fully gutted. Even the escalator atrium has been completely filled in for more main floor space. Presumably, some other passage to the lower level is in the works. Virgin's former awkward, dead-zone-ey storefront is also being completely reconfigured with a lot of glass, although, strangely, nobody has yet seen fit to remove the marquee which still features the music emporium's sad, darkened sign.

Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

Retro-Future Edition

ArticleLarge This week's Thursday Styles finds critical shopper Cintra Wilson skipping up Madison Avenue and landing at Lisa Perry's new boutique.
Having breezed past the store a few days ago we can only imagine the custodial efforts needed to keep the the spotless, white shop looking pristine. Wilson goes pretty easy on Perry whose design background appears to consist of a marriage to a "hedge fund bazillionaire".  This would seem to put her square in La Cintra's sights for a healthy skewering, but Perry seems to escape relatively unscathed by virtue of sheer enthusiasm and impressive execution of her Courrèges-inspired vision.
The sixties revival look, however, is clearly not Wilson's cup of tea,
I tried the Puff skirt, a black pleated tennis style with an ivory waistband ($495). I found it to be too puffy for my stick legs, as was the Lady dress ($995), which bubbled out at the hips in a way that made me wonder if Ms. Perry’s designs are built with a ’60s hourglass female body in mind.
Overall, our shopper is less focused on Perry's store this week than she is on other Madison Avenue goings on, ending on a scene in front of the new Diptyque boutique. It is perfumer Frédéric Malle who gets the zinger this week whose new shop is described as "a warm little place with a persimmon love seat and three 'scent chambers,' rather like interoffice personnel mailing tubes, or walk-in bongs, in which one can enjoy truly hard-core perfume huffing."
Doesn't sound so exclusive anymore, does it?
Critical Shopper: Lisa Perry Boutique Is Committed to Its Futuristic Mission by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Lisa Perry 976 Madison Avenue between 76th & 77th Streets, Upper East Side

Domestic Superstars:

Dolce & Gabbana Put Madonna
In The Kitchen

Usually, we don't report on designer advertising campaigns that much because that would be a completely different blog, but we couldn't help our amusement at the upcoming Dolce & Gabbana campaign by Steven Klein featuring one of the pair's longtime muses, Madonna. These first images have been released by the designers from Vanity Fair Italia.
The superstar famously gave the designers a major boost in the early '90s when she asked them to design her "Girlie Show" tour, and has been an avid supporter ever since, but this is the first time she has appeared in their advertising in an official capacity. What tickles us is that, rather than portraying her as a waxen figure Photoshopped to a gleaming finish, as she has appeared in recent Louis Vuitton and Versace campaigns, Klein has put her in the kitchen on a set that looks like it may have been plucked from one of the "Godfather" films. 
The design duo tell their SWIDE magazine that they were inspired by Italian star Monica Vitti whom they claim is Madonna's favorite actress. It hardly seems possible that after all these years, the only way to show Madonna as you have never seen her before, is to show her doing the dishes and scarfing pasta, but there you are.
Madonna In The Dolce & Gabbana Campaign: The Images (SWIDE via Towleroad)

Two more shots after the jump

Continue reading "Domestic Superstars:

Dolce & Gabbana Put Madonna
In The Kitchen
" »

New Additions:

Grahame Fowler Launches A
Cozy West Village Emporium

For the past few weeks, all manner of media have been working hard to make sure we knew about designer Grahame Fowler's new shop in the West Village. We hate to ignore such encouragement, and so it was with high hopes that we visited the new boutique a few days ago.
There's no better salesperson than the person who designed the goods, and it's always a encouraging to find the designer in his own shop. Mr. Fowler first found success as one half of the London design team Timney-Fowler which is best remembered for its neo-classically printed fabrics, so it's not surprising that he would have an eye for rich fabrics and evocative patterns. He walked us through a rack of jackets ranging from casual sportcoats in a sumptuous cotton moleskin to his rigorously tailored bespoke collection. A few styles are promised to be put into production for ready-to-wear in the next season, like a navy double breasted blazer in crisp barathea, and was careful to note that they were manufactured only as far away as Brooklyn.
The conveyor belt left over from the the space's previous occupant, a dry cleaner, makes an excellent rack for Fowler's striped and checked shirts —colorful, but far more restrained than the prints he had become known for in the past. The look here is more sophisticated than flamboyant, but not without a few rugged twists. Like many menswear shops, there are rows of vintage (or at least well-worn) boots lined up under the racks, as well as other sturdy belts and leathergoods to round out the selections. We are always fascinated by a case of vintage watches, and there is a well stocked one here.
Mr. Fowler has all the enthusiasm of a new storekeeper with lots of plans for the future including new products to bring in. It's a welcome change to meet a retailer who hasn't been battered by past couple of years, and we look forward to seeing the store evolve.
Grahame Fowler Original 138 West 10th Street, Greenwich Village

Dearly Departed:

Has Lucien Pellat-Finet Vacated?

Last weekend, as we took a break from holiday shopping to ogle the latest shoes at Leffot, we noticed that its longstanding neighbor across the street, Lucien Pellat-Finet was looking suspiciously papered over and empty of its sumptuous cashmere sweaters.
We wouldn't be surprised that the market for $3,000 cashmere sweaters with witty intarsia patterns might be a little bit light lately, even though we know that M. Pellat-Finet makes the most perfectly cut cashmere sweaters we have encountered (and we have encountered a lot). Unfortunately, even his solid colored sweaters retail for just under a grand these days. Perhaps the humor of his cannabis leaf emblem has worn off.
Someone tell us this is a temporary situation, or perhaps he's just moving to a higher profile location (though the corner of Christopher & Gay Streets seems to be working out quite well for the folks at Leffot and their equally expensive shoes). The boutique is still listed on the designer's website, but behind that paper in the windows, there ain't nothing but floor and walls.

Cintra Wilson Speaks

ElleCintraWe would have been remiss in not directing you to this Q&A with surviving New York Times Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson at Elle.com.
La Cintra discusses her Thursday Styles duties and her observations on the fashion scene in general, and reveals that her favorite Times column was the fever dream visit to the Dolce & Gabbana on Madison Avenue saying,
...their Madison Avenue space was so over-the-top, it inspired a really bonkers, somewhat ecstatic piece of writing, which was also informed by a certain paranoid, political edginess that was in the air at the time.
Darned if that one wasn't our favorite as well.
Never one to let a worthy pun go unused, Wilson also has a book in the works entitled, Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling the Belt Regions to Expose America’s Fashion Destiny. She describes it as "a big road-trip fashion research project about the Bible Belt", which sounds worth anticipating to say the least.
When posed a question deliberately meant to refer to her recent run-in with the fiercely loyal customers of JC Penney, Wilson deftly deflects, wisely moving on without looking back.
Sartorial Sitdown With Cintra Wilson by Johanna Cox (Elle.com)
Critical Shopper | Dolce & Gabbana: Animal Instincts Most Costly by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes 12/13/2007)

Pop-Up Du Jour:

Target-To-Go Breezes In

It really wasn't Target's fault that the launch of its Target-To-Go shopping booth wound up on the coldest day of the month so far, and its chosen spot, Gansevoort and Washington Streets in the otherwise highly desirable Meatpacking District, happens to be windiest possible section of Manhattan.
Our sympathies go out to the earmuffed and hooded staff who are doing their very best to encourage shopping amidst the bone-chilling gusts off the Hudson.
The shop itself is really more of booth (like a taco stand) with vitrines on the side displaying items including three much discussed items from the yet to be fully released Rodarte/Go International collaboration which will come to you pre-wrapped and gift ready (even if it's just for yourself) like all the other merchandise available. Other items include DVDs, Lego sets, robes, cosmetics and other gift-y items.
Currently, free cookies are being distributed to fortify shoppers against the adverse weather, and to promote the event throughout the city, Target is placing approximately 500 oversized and easy-to-identify gift tags throughout Manhattan.  Find one and return it to Target To-Go, and they will give you a Gift Card, ranging in value from $10 to $500, and will also donate $100 to The Salvation Army to benefit families in need. Clues are being distributed through Twitter: @TargetToGoNY.
Target-To-Go Gansevoort and Washington Streets at the Highline entrance, Meatpacking District

The Window Watcher:

Linda Horn's Polar Party

Madison Avenue shoppers will be familiar with Antique and Gift retailer Linda Horn whose window displays have always erred on the side of more rather than less. Her move northward to Carnegie Hill has left Madison in the '70s just a little bit stodgy, so its worth a trek a few blocks further uptown for a healthy dose of her particular brand of extravagance.
For the holidays, Horn has dedicated her window to Polar Bears. Endangered, adorable, and totally vicious if you cross them in the wild, the only place you are likely to see a polar bear in a tutu these days is in a shop window, and this one charms us.
If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Horn, you can visit her shop or check out her website where she will gush on about her love for antiques, travel and, well, herself, in a most entertaining fashion.
Linda Horn 1327 Madison Avenue between 93rd & 94th Streets, Carnegie Hill