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Houisng Works Takes Bids
For Alexander McQueen

Mcqueenjkt-1 Cannily recognizing that the market for Alexander McQueen clothing made before 2010 is likely to explode, Housing Works is holding a special auction of McQueen merchandise over the next couple of weeks at its new Hell's Kitchen location on Ninth Avenue. The trove of goods features several items in multiple sizes (like the brocade jacket pictured at left), suggesting that they are unworn (if not necessarily current season), and, at the moment, much of it is priced in the mid double digits, which is like practically free for the pricey McQueen. The store will be displaying the items which range from raincoats to ballgowns, in its windows through April 11th when online bidding will end, and the lucky winners can receive their new collector's items.

Alexander McQueen Auction (Housing Works via The Cut)
Housing Works Hell's Kitchen Thrift Shop 730-732 9th Avenue, Midtown


Barneys Co-op
Confirmed For Brooklyn


After much speculation and breathless predictions from hopeful real estate brokers (really, Williamsburg?), Barneys is finally confirming that a Co-op will rise in Brooklyn -Cobble Hill to be precise. The new store will open this September at 194 Atlantic Avenue near Court Street which, as those familiar with the neighborhood will know, is right by Trader Joe's, so the new location will not want for foot traffic. No more details have been released, so we presume that this will be a full men's & women's location.

In addition to the Brooklyn announcement, Californians will be happy to learn that another Co-op will be opening a few weeks before that at the Santa Monica Place Mall, making it the fifth Southern California location for the spin-off chain.

Barneys Co-op to Launch in Brooklyn, Santa Monica (WWD)


L.L.Bean Scores With Signature


The Shophound has been rediscovering L.L.Bean over the past few months, and we have been as excited as anyone to see them launch their new premium L.L.Bean Signature collection this month. Rather than ordering online, we took the opportunity during a weekend out of town to visit the L.L.Bean store in Tyson's Corner, Virginia to see how the goods looked in person and try a few things on.

The premium concept has been catching on fast over the past year with American heritage brands like Woolrich, Timberland and Pendleton experimenting with retail collaborations and more exclusive deluxe labels for a few seasons now. J.Crew has upgraded its entire product range and now competes directly with brands like Polo and has brilliantly promoted formerly sleepy but more expensive domestic brands like Red Wing Boots and Alden Shoes. Even the stodgy Sears-owned Land's End has broken out its Canvas label which is well worth a second or even third look.

Llbeansignatureshoes In the Tyson's store, Bean has set up a well defined shop-in-shop right at the spacious store's mall entrance for its new line, and you can tell by the carefully styled sales staff in this section that they mean business. The collection feels like a well considered response to the ever upscaling J.Crew, and it looks as good in the store as it does on Maggie Rizer and Missy Rayder in the catalog. The best part is that the prices on most things are barely higher than that of your standard Bean fare, and designer Alex Carleton of Rogues Gallery, a veteran of both Bean's and Ralph Lauren's design studios, has tweaked the classics just enough to make them younger and livelier. The main difference here is the fit. Everything is trimmer and scaled more along the lines of a contemporary line, so regular Bean customers will likely find themselves jumping up a size. Our shopping companion, whose tastes generally run towards Lanvin and Ralph Rucci, picked up a chambray shirtdress (sold out online below size 14), a boatneck sweater and t-shirt, so you can see how these basics can mix in with a more sophisticated wardrobe. We made it out of there with a Sportsman's Madras Plaid Shirt in the kind of murky, dark madras we love (but have such a hard time finding) and a pair of the Eastport Handsewn Ranger Moc leather chukka boots that sold out online days after they were released as a preview item. There was plenty more we would have been happy to take along as well. The great advantages of shopping in the retail store are that A) there are helpful salespeople there who will tell you that the shirts are cut slim and the shoes are running small, avoiding annoying mail returns and exchanges, and B) they had plenty of goods in stock that are back-ordered on the L.L.Bean website. Sadly, the retail stores usually will not take phone orders (but if you beg a little, a manager might make an exception). The salespeople tell us that the new collection has been a big hit and is selling fast, which means that there should be lots more in the Fall.

Llbeanshoeswomen Of course there is one category in the line that still needs a little work We are crazy about the subtly tweaked range of men's shoes under the signature label, but the women's footwear could benefit from a new point of view. This was the only group that disappointed and even looked, well, a little cheap, frankly. It's not an area where you can afford sacrifice quality to hit a targeted price point, especially when the rest of the line looks so good. L.L.Bean is, unfortunately, not quite ready to pull off a stacked platform pump or chunky cork wedge sandals. They might have done better with women's versions of the men's mocs in brighter colors and by sticking with the simpler leather flats and sandals.

There are only about seventeen L.L.Bean freestanding stores, all on the Eastern Seaboard, and, unfortunately, exactly none of them convenient to New York City, so most of our cityfolk readers will have to rely on the website if they want to purchase anything, but since the collection is so clearly geared towards a more fashion conscious customer, we are putting in our request to Freeport, Maine that they set up a nice pop-up shop somewhere in Manhattan for the Signature line...or better yet, how about a full L.L.Bean store of our own?

L.L.Bean Signature (Official Site)
This Week's Premium Launch: L.L.Bean Signature Has Launched

Premium Preview: L.L.Bean Teases Its Signature Launch

The Shophound On The Road: A Discovery Expedition To L.L.Bean
Unexpected Developments: L.L. Bean Goes Deluxe


This Week Online Off-Price

Here are our choices for what looks good to us amongst the online Sample Sale Sites this week. This is just a sampling, so you should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events. Most sales kick off sales at 11 AM except for the Gilt Groupe sites which begin at 12 noon on weekdays and Saturdays and 9 PM on Sunday evenings.
Happy clicking
Carolina Herrera, Just Cavalli, Paul & Joe, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Temperley London, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Calvin Klein Collection, —join HERE
Victor Glemaud, Cannondale, Hickey Freeman, Richard Chai, Oliver Peoples, A. Testoni, Converse Sneakers,  —join HERE
Gorjana Jewelry, Modern Amusement & Torn by Ronny Kobo, Splendid & Ella Moss —join HERE
Sportmax, Footprints by Birkenstock, Tumi, Renaissance Carpet & Tapestries —join HERE
Tahari Accessories, Paper Denim & Cloth, Sportmax, Sony Music, Cuisinart—join HERE
Orla Kiely Paper, Labrazel Home Accessories, Nason Moretti Murano Glass, Pacific Connections, The Rug Market, Fortunata —join HERE
Kata Eyewear, Designer Watches, Joe's Jeans, Judith Leiber Eyewear —join HERE


Comptoir des Cotonniers Looking For New Faces This Weekend

For all of you who are too old or too young (or too sane) to audition for Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model, this Sunday, March 28th, Comptoir des Cotonniers will host its seasonal Mother-Daughter modeling competition in its SoHo boutique for the upcoming Fall 2010 campaign. The French chain (owned by Fast Retailing, parent company of UNIQLO) has long made mothers and daughters a theme in their advertising campaigns. The lucky winners will represent the brand for the season and be whisked to Paris to walk in the Fall Fashion Show on May 31st. Then they will be flown to whatever exotic location has been chosen to shoot the Fall advertising campaign. Flights, hotels and all expenses are included as well as clothing vouchers to use while shopping in Comptoir des Cotonniers stores.
So practice your signature walks. By next week, you could be a supermodel.
Comptoir des Cotonniers Mother Daughter Model Casting, March 28, 2010 from 2 to 6 PM, 155 Spring Street between Wooster Street & West Broadway, SoHo
Flyer and more information after the jump


Comptoir des Cotonniers Looking For New Faces This Weekend" »


Takashimaya To Shutter

Sophisticated shoppers and tea lovers will be very sad to hear that Japanese retailer Takashimaya is closing its New York store on Fifth Avenue after seventeen years.
The closure appears to be the result of a failed merger with another Japanese concern, H2O Retailing Corp. Takashimaya's lavish Fifth Avenue location between 54th and 55th streets has become a first stop for seasoned shoppers in search of unusual gifts, flowers and accessories, some from Japan, but many from young independent American designers who will surely be disappointed to lose a high-profile account. The store's serene lower level tea salon has long been a beloved secret respite for weary midtown shoppers.
Takashimaya plans to sell the real estate, which raises the question: Who will buy it and move in? The store with it's double height main floor is a dramatic space. Who will be interested in a striking and newly available Fifth Avenue flagship space?
At the very least, there will soon be an extremely popular liquidation sale on Fifth Avenue.
Takashimaya to Close New York Store (WWD)


Ungaro Moving To The Plaza
—Company Not For Sale

The current owner of Emanuel Ungaro, Asim Abdullah, clarifies the state of the brand for WWD today by confirming rumors that the boutique that closed recently on Madison Avenue will reopen in the Plaza Retail Collection, or, as we like to call it, That Basement Across the Street From Bergdorf's.
It's not really what anyone would call a step up, but we're talking about a label that is hanging on for dear life. Abdullah firmly denies that the company he has owned since 2005 is for sale, although, without being too snarky we can't imagine that he would turn down a half-decent offer for the once celebrated Haute Couture Maison that has basically been run into the ground.
Let's be optimistic and hope that this is a momentary low point for the Ungaro label, and that current chief designer Estrella Archs will be able to pull things together and lure back customers now that she is free from the interference and bad press of a fading Hollywood starlet.
Fingers crossed!
Ungaro Owner Denies Firm for Sale (WWD)


Irresistible Classics At J.Press

Who needs Hermès?
Why would we want to stand in line for hours for a sample sale where everything is still crazy expensive? We have been off the sample sale circuit for a bit because, frankly, we have enough stuff for a while (there are occupational hazards to writing this blog, after all), but we were intrigued by the idea of a J.Press sale because, A) with the preppy heritage look still going strong, you can't get much more authentic than J.Press, and B) it's usually not that expensive to begin with.
Jpressshirts And so our instincts were right. The sale is not huge, but then neither was the crowd. It comfortably shares the Onward Kashiyama showroom in the garment district with a Joseph women's sale, and pretty much everything is a flat 70% off original prices, which meant that those classic madras shirts come in at under $15 each. There's a good bunch of super classic oxford button-front shirts, polo shirts and cotton sweaters and a random but wide ranging selection of classic suits and sportcoats (unfortunately the sizes are limited on the tailored clothing). Those tweeds you see above are totally out of season but full of the kind of nouveau-fuddy-duddy charm that will still be in full effect come Fall, and they come in at a couple hundred bucks at the most for anyone who likes to shop way ahead. Ties and socks go for a meager $5 each, and there is a trove of bow ties in classic foulard prints that are going fast.
So get moving all you preppies out there (nouveau or otherwise). The sale runs through Saturday.
J.Press Sample Sale through Saturday March 27th, 530 Seventh Avenue between 38th & 39th Streets, 29th floor, Garment District


Minimal Disappointment Edition

25critic-span-articleLargeIn her roundabout journey through every major designer boutique in Manhattan, The Times' Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson gives an American Icon a fair shot at the Calvin Klein Collection boutique on Madison Avenue after having been lured by decades of the designer's sleek, sexy imagery.
When it comes to the Calvin Klein Collection of today, however, things are not exactly as one would have remembered them. In the Francisco Costa era, the brand's new parent company, PVH, has focused their considerable attentions and resources on launching the label's moderate department store line. While creative director Costa's runway collections have racked up the awards, they have languished at retail as Calvin's hard-core customers have turned away over the past few years. Our intrepid shopper finds that what was once an American Designer Sportswear mainstay is now styled more to appeal to Asian and European tastes and, unfortunately, bodies. Here's the verdict after trying a shimmery satin tank dress:
It didn’t give me the chrome hood-ornament effect I had hoped for. There was an asymmetrical bunching at one side that made me resemble a sock scrunched the wrong way down a combat boot.
A pewter cocktail dress:
It was a roiling mass of gray pin-tucks, swooping in conflicting directions for a crosscurrent-undertow effect. I was willing to be won over, but the dress was not kind. I staggered out to show [my friend].
“I am your lung after five years of chain-smoking,” I said in the affectless voice of a disembodied organ.
Shopping pal Johanna tries on a teal silk-jersey dress:
It was clingy in all the wrong places — too tight over the curves; loose and baggy in the middle — basically the problem I had with the things I tried on: knit numbers that had a kicky Zelda Fitzgerald look on the hanger, but on the body evoked the wrong years of Brigitte Nielson.
Word has it that the folks at PVH are now trying to bolster the flailing commercial fortunes of the flagship Collection label, but it looks like it may be a much bigger task than they thought it would be.
Critical Shopper | Calvin Klein: New Bow on a Minimal Box by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Calvin Klein Collection 654 Madison Avenue at 60th Street, Upper East Side


Anthropologie Takes Shape

Click all images for a larger view in a new window
There has been lots of new activity lately down at the Chelsea Market, but the biggest change will come next week when Manhattan's fourth Anthropologie store opens. It is slated to begin accepting customers next Friday, April 2nd, and from what we can tell from a sneaky look through the craft paper covering its windows as well as a quick peek through an open door, it's gonna be big.
Unlike most of the market's other stores, it will have a street entrance on the corner of 9th Avenue and 15th Street, and if our glimpse through the doors is correct, there is a sizable staircase leading to a heretofore unseen downstairs level of the space.
What has caused the most consternation at the Chelsea Market, however, is not the store's size, but the fact that it is a national chain encroaching on a complex that most understood to be dedicated to local, independent food purveyors. We tend to hope that Anthropologie's presence is more a solution to difficult to lease space (it was previously a flower market) than a new more open leasing policy where our beloved locals would have to compete with national chains. After all, we'd hate to see the Fat Witch brownie shop (home of our favorite free sample tray) squeezed out by a Cinnabon.