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Facebook Fights For La Cintra

It looks like The Shophound is not the only one disappointed by the new changes at the Thursday Styles Critical Shopper column. There is now a Facebook group devoted to restoring freelancers Cintra Wilson's and Mike Albo's bylines to the column.

While it's unlikely that Albo's corporate ethics violation will be forgiven (he accepted a forbidden free press junket trip), in Wilson's case, no bridges have been burned, as we understand it, and she may make an occasional return appearance, so there is still hope. We're not sure that the Times editors are as susceptible to pressure as the producers of Saturday Night Live, but we suppose it couldn't hurt.

If you would like to join the "Hey! New York Times-Please Bring Back The Real Critical Shoppers!" group, visit the Facebook page and make your voice heard.

Facebook via Racked
Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping No Longer: Wilson Out As NYT Critical Shopper?


Colette Goes Comical for DC's 75th


We have seen DC Comics' 75th anniversary celebrated already at Bloomingdale's with a host of t-shirt and accessory collaborations, but Colette in Paris, a store that never saw a designer collaboration it didn't like, has taken things to another level with a group of superhero inspired items in a more luxe vein than one can expect to find at your local comics shop.

Among the more rarefied items are a Lanvin Batman dog t-shirt (Ace the Bat-hound?), Catwoman boots from Roger Vivier (Kind of a no-brainer, really), and, most amusingly, the iconic white gloves of the Green Lantern re-interpreted by Karl Lagerfeld in his signature fingerless fashion with an oversized green crystal "Power Ring" affixed to the right middle finger.

We're not entirely sure that anyone shopping for presumably expensive gloves at Colette will remotely recognize the superhero reference (at least not before the Green Lantern movie currently filming comes out next year), but then, one should never underestimate the power of the Green Lantern.

The collection will be launched Monday, May 31st.

Fashion Scoops: Hero Worship (WWD)
Colette (Official Site)


Jean-Paul Gaultier Moves On from Hermès & Olivier Theyskens Meets ...Theory?


There's all sorts of intriguing designer news today.

First there's there's the confirmation of the ongoing rumors that Jean-Paul Gaultier is vacating his creative director position at Hermès. He will show his final collection for the iconic brand this Fall for Spring 2011. His replacement, Christophe Lemaire can be credited with giving Lacoste a design facelift over the past few years. Presumably, Lemaire will be leaving the crocodile and focusing his time on Hermès and his own line. While his time at the classical Lacoste would make for good prep to take over at the home of the timeless Kelly Bag, it would be hard to argue that Lemaire has the kind of visionary point of view that marked his predecessors, Gaultier and Martin Margiela. Perhaps Hermès is looking for a more subdued image going forward.

Gaultier won't be completely severing his ties to Hermès. The company will be retaining its 45% ownership of the designer's own label.

TheyskensTheory In a more surprising team-up, Olivier Theyskens who has been lying low for the past few seasons since his departure from Nina Ricci, will return to designing with a line for Theory.

Yes, that's right. Theory.

The contemporary sportswear giant will launch a women's capsule collection by Theyskens for Spring 2011, and we won't be the only ones curious to see what the designer whose work was deemed too extravagant and flamboyant for Ricci will do for a label that made its name with sportswear basics and office suits in stretchy twills.

If we are interpreting this news correctly, we'll bet that Theyskens is just getting his feet wet, and, more importantly, amassing his resources in preparation for a full-fledged relaunch of his own label. Of course, if he's still looking to pick up extra work, it looks like there will be a spot opening up at Lacoste.

Hermès and Gaultier Part Ways,
Theyskens to Design for Theory (WWD)


Wilson Out As NYT Critical Shopper?

LaCintra-AThe Shophound has a sad face on today as it appears that, without a single byline in over a month, Cintra Wilson has been relieved of her regular duties as The Critical Shopper in the New York Times's Thursday Styles. The weekly column seems to have been fully turned over to full-time staffers Jon Caramanica, who took over reviewing men's stores after Mike Albo was dismissed, and Ruth La Ferla, a veteran Times fashion writer who has assumed Wilson's role.

Our guess is that The Times has chosen to limit its use of freelancers like Wilson in favor of its regular staff as a cost-cutting measure. After all, nobody is immune to the economic pressures currently facing pretty much all of print media.

It's The Times's loss, however, and we are quite sure that we are not the only ones who are jonesing for our bi-monthly dose of La Cintra's particularly critical form of shopping in which she does not suffer fools gladly, but is happy to swoon in appreciation of worthy accomplishment, especially if you serve her some Champagne. She managed to successfully follow up Alex Kuczynski's loopy, tangent-filled reports and shifted the column to her her own incisive point of view, at least for a while.

Of course, The Thursday Styles is not her only outlet, and we will be keeping an eye out for her work in other publications, and if you are in need of an immediate fix, you might check out her books, Colors Insulting To Nature, Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny and A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations.

Perhaps all is not lost. For all we know, this may just be a temporary experiment being carried out until the Thursday Styles editor realizes that Wilson's fee is money well spent. In the meantime,



Leo Design Gets Booted Off Bleecker

Click the image for a larger view in a new window
We sort of knew this was inevitable, but it's extra disappointing to discover this week. Just one day after we learned that longtime Bleecker Street shop Treasures & Trifles had closed, we find that its neighbor Leo Design will be moving off Bleecker in August. Unlike its fellow antique store a few doors away, Leo has in fact been forced out of its home of fifteen years, and will be moving a few blocks away to 543 Hudson Street between Perry and Charles Streets. We are just glad that this exceptional little shop hasn't been forced out of business altogether.

Early on in the life of The Shophound, we singled out Leo as one of our most admired stores. As a tiny shop crammed with goods, the eclectic selection of vintage ceramics, jewelry, silver and any number of other gift items could easily descend into an impenetrable jumble, but instead, it is a master class in visual merchandising with every shelf and surface meticulously arranged make each item look its most appealing. Even its moving notice is carefully placed among an arrangement of vintage hammered metal and ceramic vessels.

We don't know what will take Leo's place at no. 413, but they will have especially big shoes to fill.

Transitions: Treasures & Trifles Another Longtime Bleecker Street Store Exits

See a larger version of the moving notice after the jump


Leo Design Gets Booted Off Bleecker" »


Burgers Vs. Rubber Shoes Edition

Z-CRITIC-B-articleLarge This week's Critical Shopper, Jon Caramanica finally gets, well, critical, and who wouldn't after a visit to the new Crocs flagship in SoHo? His visit brings up warm memories of the building's previous tenant, the humble barbecue restaurant Tennessee Mountain, and he deems both occupants out of place in SoHo -the restaurant for being lowbrow in an increasingly chi-chi neighborhood, and Crocs for being.... Crocs. There is, though, one major difference here: Tennessee Mountain was enjoyable and relatively cheap but offered a valuable service. Mmmm, curly fries. Crocs is also cheap but... ugh Crocs!

After recounting the store's many transgressions against feet and footwear, Jon comes to the concluson that more than any other store in SoHo, Crocs exists purely for tourists, presumably because no self respecting, SoHo-shopping New Yorker would be caught dead wearing those things.

As if to emphasize the point, the windows display a handful of nation-themed Crocs: England, Italia, Korea, Deutschland ($39.99), souvenirs of places you don’t even have to go to, or may already be from.

It's an astute observation, and one that could be applied to many stores in Manhattan, though most of those are safely placed in designated tourist-only zones like Times Square (which is where this Crocs store should be). Ultimately, Caramanica, possibly addled by the pungent Croslite aroma wafting through the store, puts his feet in a pair of the clogs. It's a cautionary tale that suggests what it must be like the first time someone uses heroin. Stay out of that place.

Critical Shopper: Standing Proudly, in Foam Shoes By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Crocs 143 Spring St at Wooster Street, SoHo


Giles Deacon Officially Tapped To Turn Around Ungaro

Giles-a As was heavily rumored a month ago, London designer Giles Deacon has been officially announced as the new Creative Director for Emanuel Ungaro. Deacon tells WWD,

“I obviously don’t want to infringe upon my own line, but I like things that are very feminine, lots of color, great prints, great quality, some unusual cuts. All of those things that I like in the world of fashion design I’m going to bring to what I feel is appropriate for the Ungaro woman.”

To help facilitate a transition, Deacon will forgo a runway presentation for a couple of seasons to focus on stabilizing the label after a succession of designers who followed founder Emanuel Ungaro's retirement. The house reached a nadir last Fall when actress Lindsay Lohan was tapped as an "Artistic Director", a move which forced out then creative director Esteban Cortazar, and did no favors for his replacement, the less well known Estrella Archs who went on to design one more Lohan-free collection for Fall 2010. The move embarrassed the label's retired namesake and alienated many of the once vital couture house's wholesale accounts, and the severe drop in business caused Ungaro to abandon its Madison Avenue boutique in favor of a less conspicuous space in the Plaza Hotel's underground shopping complex.

Deacon's appointment could potentially go a long way toward reviving the label's fortunes. The designer is well liked by both the fashion press and retailers, which could return serious consideration to a brand many had written off as hopelessly doomed. While Ungaro's past year has been something of a disaster, the name has not yet fallen into obscurity, and people are still interested in seeing the latest turn in the house's saga. For his part, Deacon, who will also continue running his own 8-year-old label, could exhume the Ungaro label from the bowels of the Plaza Hotel and put it back in front of enthusiastic customers.

From here, There's really nowhere to go but up for Deacon

Emanuel Ungaro Taps Giles Deacon As Creative Director (WWD)
Today In Brand Repair: Is Giles Deacon Going To Save Ungaro?


Kors To Relocate
Madison Avenue Flagship


WWD has answered a simple question we had a few weeks ago: What exactly is Michael Kors going to do with a third space on Madison Avenue? Is he just some real estate hog?

It won't be a third space after all. Kors will be moving his main flagship store from 76th Street to the former Emanuel Ungaro space at 67th Street. It turns out that he couldn't pass up the combination of more room and a better location, and why would he? The Michael Kors Collection business has expanded dramatically since his current uptown boutique opened in the mid-90, and has outgrown the intimate space. When the new store opens after extensive renovations, the old will close, leaving the designer with a bigger, better situated flagship that is more accessible to out-of-town clients and outfitted with improved V.I.P. services. The Collection boutique will focus only on the top-of-the -line Michael Kors labels unlike his accessory driven lifestyle shops a few blocks away and in SoHo which highlight the less exclusive Michael and Kors lines.

We suppose there's Lindsay Lohan to thank for all this. Although she wasn't single handedly responsible for Emanuel Ungaro's steeply falling fortunes which forced the label to abandon its costly boutique, she certainly gave them a hefty push.

Michael Kors to Open Larger Flagship (WWD)

Madison Avenue Multiplication: Kors Officially In Former Ungaro Space


UNIQLO Follows Up
With A Velvet Touch

UNIQLOxVelvet-AAs the UNIQLO x Costello Tagliapietra dresses fly off the racks, the Japanese retailer has announced a surprising follow up collaboration to arrive in less than a month. Velvet by Graham & Spencer, the California based casual sportswear label has designed a 14-piece collection for the store including t-shirts, camisoles, dresses and even jersey harem pants that will hit the selling floor on Thursday, June 17th at prices ranging from $15.50 to $19.50.

While Velvet is not an inexpensive label -A basic women's tee starts at $55- it's a bit more casual and sporty than UNIQLO's usual Designers Invitation collaboration partners which in the past have included more exclusive labels like Lutz & Patmos3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang. It's an unexpected move, but not an unwelcome one, as knits and jersey's are right in UNIQLO's wheelhouse, and are perfectly timed for more relaxed Summer dressing. As the chain prepares to expand throughout the U.S., it appears they are looking further afield for collaborators that may have appeal beyond New York's fashion favorites.

The collaboration won't end with the Summer, however This fall will bring another capsule collection in cashmere with prices ranging from $99.90 to $129.90. Get ready for more customer gridlock. That Fifth Avenue mega-flagship can't come fast enough.

Velvet for UNIQLO collection arrives on June 17th at 546 Broadway between Prince & Spring Streets


All Saints Stakes Its Claim In SoHo

An unfinished version of this post was mistakenly published last Friday May 21st. This is the completed version.

Here's what we learned from our visit to the new All Saints store that opened on Friday in SoHo:
1. If everything is gray and brown, then it all matches!
2. Ankle boots can be worn with with anything.
3. Any rusted old piece of junk or scrap metal can be used as decor.

AllsaintsINSIDE-1 Well, actually, we already knew all those things, but we were strongly reminded by SoHo's latest addition. The store's overall impression looks like what might happen if Rick Owens and Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo teamed up to invade and conquer Abercrombie & Fitch, and that turns out to be a good thing. The London based label has been around since the early 1990s, occasionally popping up in places like Barneys Co-op or Bloomingdale's, but not establishing more than a niche presence in the U.S. at best —until now. The company is on an expansion roll, having already opened stores in Miami, Boston and L.A. with openings scheduled later this year in, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Here in New York, the brand took over the mazelike space once occupied by sneaker palace Michael K and cleared it out all the way to Crosby Street, unearthing some of the old cast-iron building's long hidden beauty which not coincidentally creates a perfect backdrop for All Saints' workwear/military aesthetic. A wall festooned with vintage Singer sewing machines as well as display fixtures constructed from salvaged industrial materials (or made to look that way) contribute to the prevailing steampunk look, which is not to say that there's no room for the latest technology. iPads are strategically installed throughout the store, allowing customers to browse digital touch-screen catalogs. Another installation of ram skulls behind the main register (pictured above) lends the macabre air of decay that all those distressed and deconstructed clothes need.

The All Saints staff is certainly among the most carefully styled we have seen anywhere. Instead of putting the employees in uniforms or basic stock items, most of the salespeople are dressed to the nines. They all appear to be individually styled to showcase different looks rather than fade into the background, so one salesperson's jacket collar is carefully turned up at the perfect angle, while another's wide neck sweater slides off her shoulder just so. Many of the women employees sport variations of the label's asymmetrical cotton pouf dresses, with the men in narrow pants rolled to the knee with tightly laced ankle boots, many versions of which are available for sale to both genders. We have to give the store credit for pushing its native London sense of high style rather than catering to the lowest common denominator, although there are baggy cargo shorts available if you absolutely must have them. Except for a few pairs of selvedge jeans ($135), there is not a single item of clothing at All Saints that has not been washed, distressed, tumbled or crushed in one way or another including shoes mostly ($200-270) and leather jackets (around $400-700). While the label has always been known for a vintage, surplus-y aesthetic, this is the first time we have been able to take in the entire brand concept as a whole, and it looks appealing and just different enough to capture even those shoppers who are already overwhelmed by SoHo's offerings.

All Saints - Spitalfields 512 Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets, SoHo