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Indiscreet Charmless Bourgeoisie Edition

Z-CRITIC-C-popup Here is the reason why The Shophound was so happy to see Cintra Wilson reinstated as a Critical Shopper in the Thursday Styles: When 57th Street's Christian Dior boutique re-opened a few weeks ago, most everyone who had anything to say about it fawned over the extravagance, the opulence and the glittering glamour that the legendary house had lavished on the refreshed interior. To La Cintra, however, it's all little more than an overdose of tinsel. While she's able to appreciate the ingenuity of Dior's wares, she is less impressed by the rabid consumer instincts of its clientele. She even manages somehow to get in a dig at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his reputed mistress, which should give you some idea about how she approaches this particular task.

The last straw is a sumptuous dress we are told was just purchased by Melania Trump (a dubious selling point, at best) and Wilson makes her exit with a sneer at all the standard boutique obsequiousness,

Ordinarily I walk out of dressing rooms and swish around before the sales staff (particularly when, like Mr. Smith, they have been so attentive) to show them how right they were to suggest the garment, but I couldn’t leave the room in that dress. I felt queasy, as if I were wearing a $9 million birthday party.

As I left, the manager, indicating the shop as a whole, asked, “How do you like our creation?”
“Mind-boggling,” I said.
“Can you imagine working here every day?” he asked with rhetoric joy.
“No, I can’t,” I said. “Does it give you an addiction to opulence, like you’re living in Versailles? Are you still capable of taking a subway?”

Show off at your own risk.

Critical Shopper: At Dior, a New Look That’s More of a Sneer By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Christian Dior 19 East 57th Street between Fifth & Madison Avenues, Midtown


Snowbound Shoppers
Storm Midtown Stores

That blizzard thing you've been hearing about threw a big ol' wrench into most Northeastern retailers' post-Christmas sale plans. Even by mid-afternoon many (but not all) major stores in midtown Manhattan had signs on their doors informing passersby that they would reopen on Tuesday. While SoHo was practically impenetrable, and most uptown side street were effectively blockaded by snowdrifts, midtown was the only part of town where the many tourists unexpectedly stranded in New York were able to shop at all.... and boy, were they ready.

Above, see throngs of people crowding into Saks Fifth Avenue as the store belatedly opened its doors at noon. Big stores like Armani|5th Avenue, Tiffany and Banana Republic's Rockefeller Center flagship remained shut not because they didn't think there would be customers, but with dodgy subway service for most of the day, they couldn't count on enough staff making it in to open up properly. Though Saks opened late, its fine jewelry departments remained roped off and closed to shoppers. Others were more tenacious. Bergdorf's, Gap and most of Time Warner Center managed to open for business. Tourists were as enthusiastic as ever about their favorite pastime of waiting outside Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch (below) forming extra long lines as the snow seeped into their soggy sneakers. We didn't actually check the UGG store, but its fairly safe to assume...



Clearance Time! plus Rachel Comey, Dolce Vita, Laura Mercier, Patrik Ervell, Brunello Cucinelli, SeaVees, Milly, Ben Sherman

Just like in brick and mortar stores, the Flash Sites are in final clearance mode this week as well. Second chances abound, so if you missed something the first time around, you might have another shot at a reduced price. Of course, if you are snowbound by the East Coast Blizzard, your options are probably limited to your laptop today anyway.

Here is your weekly sampling of what's being offered on the major online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Happy clicking!

Women's Clothing & Accessories Final Sales, Jean Michel Cazabat, Dolce Vita, Matthew Wiliamson/Temperley, Rachel Comey Clothing & Accessories, Ali Ro, Laura Mercier, Kara Ross —join HERE
After Holiday Sale, A. Testoni, Edun, Patrik Ervell, SeaVees, Brunello Cucinelli —join HERE
Portico Bedding & Bath, Home Final Sale, Jaipur Rugs, Kitchen Basics —join HERE
Yummie Tummie, Joseph Abboud, Calvin Klein, Terrida, Andrew Marc, Kork-Ease, Milly, Ben Sherman —join HERE
Red Final Sales, Vince Camuto, Cockpit USA, Custo Barcelona, Shae —join HERE
After Christmas Blowout Sales, TeNeues, Godinger, Felix Rey Umbrellas, Selamat, HK Photographs, CIA Cookware, The Comfortable Couch Co., Fatboy —join HERE
Pur Cashmere, Matiko, French Connection Men's, Sweet Pea, Walter, Corso Como, Idol Radec, Vince Men's —join HERE


Nostalgic Communication Edition

Z-CRITIC-D-articleLarge In this week's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica makes use of a time honored literary trope: The Faux Correspondence. He has created a trans-generational comminuqué to describe yet another new nostalgia based men's store (Oh Freeman's Sporting Club, you have a lot to answer for).

We are, however, intrigued by Palmer Training Company, which sounds like a carefully edited mix of vintage and new merchandise, and yet Caramanica lends a note of caution in closing.

While aggressively priced, most of the store’s pieces — the excellent shoes, especially, made in collaboration with Eastland — are timeless, though the lumberjack chic can feel a year out of date.

Tread lightly all you plaid flannel and work boot hoarders. Sounds like the clock is ticking on that look...

Critical Shopper | Palmer Trading Company: A Twice-Told Tale By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Palmer Trading Company 137 Sullivan Street, between Prince and Houston Streets, SoHo


Good News And Bad News
For Michael Bastian Fans

Bastian1 First the bad news: Michael Bastian will not be producing a Fall 2011 collection.
Now the good news: When he returns for Spring 2012, his line should be about 15% to 20% less expensive.
It's all because the popular but ever pricier designer has ended his agreement with production partner, Italian manufacturer Brunello Cucinelli, a bit earlier than expected. While his label has been praised for its impeccable quality, Bastian's prices have pushed, and some might say often exceeded, the limits for the prices one can reasonably ask for a pair of prewashed khaki pants, for example. Essentially, he has hit the wall when it comes to expanding his business at that price level. Currently, Blazers run from $2,000 to $3,000, while pants begin at $450 and shirts at $295. Even the designer himself has occasionally expressed dismay at how much his line winds up costing at retail, so the move is not a total surprise. He will take the Fall season off to put new production resources in place, and his Cucinelli-produced Spring 2011 line is expected to ship as planned.

Funding all this restructuring is revenue from Bastian's collection for Gant which made its debut this past Fall. A hit at retail, it will expand to include women's clothes this Spring, and will remain in production. While the Michael Bastian collection will still be expensive when it returns, any movement towards a more accessible price point will be welcome.

Michael Bastian Splits From Founding Partner (WWD)


The UGG Line Is Not
Restricted To SoHo

Some days ago, we remarked that the line of Holiday shoppers has rematerialized in front of the Ugg Store in SoHo, and a lot of folks seemed to appreciate that. We would be remiss in ignoring the fact that the new UGG store at Madison Avenue and 58th Street has also spawned its own queue of customers shivering in the cold. See the above image from Monday, December 20th at 3 PM. We were not kidding when  we said that there are nearly 80, EIGHTY places in the immediate vicinity that sell UGGs (they are listed on the company website), making the above lineup all the more ludicrous. Even forgetting for a moment the fact that these people are waiting in line to take part in one of the world's most unflattering fashion trend, there is still no reason to do this! You can get those damned things anywhere.

And people wonder why New Yorkers seem so aloof towards tourists. Sometimes they make it so easy.

MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE: It Must Be Christmas BecauseThe UGG Line Is Here


Will Etro's SoHo Boutique Ever Open?

About two and a half years ago, Etro announced that they had purchased the retail space at the corner of Spring and Green Streets at a reported $12 million. Plywood has gone up, signs have been posted, but in all the time since then, a store has yet to materialize, and there's no way of knowing how far along they are to getting one open.

We had our doubts earlier in the year when the Italian brand's signature print vanished from the site leaving it anonymous, but the nameplate has returned with an "Opening Soon" message.

Of course, we all know that "soon" can be interpreted very liberally, but we have to wonder if it should take two over two years and counting to convert a bodega into a boutique? After all, Michael Kors converted a store on Bleecker Street in a matter of months. We aren't disputing the Etro's splashy prints and patterns would sell well downtown, we're just wondering when they will arrive.

SoHo Gains Etro & Loses A Korean Deli (5/7/08)


Earnest Sewn, Badgley Mischka, Catherine Malandrino, Calvin Klein Collection, Halston Heritage, Shipley & Halmos, Botkier, Charles Jourdan

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Happy clicking!

Gerard Yosca, Antik Batik, Badgley Mischka/Mark + James, Converse, Jay Godfrey, Nicholas K, Slane, Lutz & Patmos, Missoni —join HERE
Earnest Sewn, Farah, Generic Man, New Balance, Shipley & Halmos, Surface to Air, Belvest, Idol Radec, Leatherman, Portolano, Parke & Ronen, Calvin Klein Collection, Gordon Rush, J. Lindeberg —join HERE
Frette, Judy Ross Home, Cozy Covers Winter Bedding —join HERE
Madison Avenue Couture Vintage, D&G Jewels & Time, Halston Heritage, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Botkier, Catherine Malandrino, Charles Jourdan, Sferra —join HERE
Michael Stars, I Bijoux di Simonetta, Yansi Fugel, L.A.M.B., Kosta Boda, Blinde, Shirt by Shirt, Pioneer —join HERE
Mauviel, Plaza de Caviar, Anichini, Waterworks, La Maison, LeSportsac, The Rug Market, Illume, Sagaform, Luigi Bormioli, 8 AM Warehouse Blowout on 12/26 —join HERE
Urban Decay, Laundry by Design, Matt & Nat, Superdry, DecadesTwo.1 Finale 2010, Vincent Longo, Tibi & Butter —join HERE


Shop From Home
It's Free Shipping Day!

By now, we have all gotten used to how much easier the internet has made Holiday Shopping, but there is one price we all pay for the convenience: Shipping Fees. This is problem is especially acute right around now, when lazy slowpokes must pay extra for expedited delivery to ensure that gifts will arrive before Christmas.

But not today! It's Free Shipping Day.

Shop online today, and 1,721 merchants will send your order for free wherever it needs to go, and many will include priority deliveries in that offer. There's no losing here, especially if you've got a lot of gifts to send to a lot of people.

This event, which started in 2008, has been embraced by major retailers where you are probably shopping already like Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, L.L.Bean, Zappos and many more. While the majority of participating stores are comping delivery on everything, many will have minimum order requirements, and some will require discount codes, so check the main website HERE for details. Then you can sit back, think of all the money you are saving to buy something for yourself.

Free Shipping Day (Official Site)