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Next Great Luxury Store?

Something felt unfinished at the new boutique FIVESTORY when The Shophound stopped by on Friday, a day after it had opened to the public.
Maybe it was the paint smell.

We can't really blame the folks at Fivestory for straining to get their doors open on time even if there were still more than a few finishing touches yet to be applied to the store's interior. One room of the store was described to us as "where fine jewelry will be" by a sales associate who admitted that not all of the store's merchandise had arrived. Still, it is late April already, and there are goods that need to be sold before the selling season turns to clearance time and ridiculously early pre-Fall goods start rolling in.

We feel pretty confident that Fivestory will be fine. They certainly won't ignore a customer in there. We were greeted numerous times, sometimes one right after another in a slightly excessive display of hospitality that we will chalk up to the enthusiasm and high spirits that generally accompany a newly opened store. In fairness, nobody was overbearing in their attention either, and we could tell that an effort had been made to staff the store with professionals. It has an intimate layout that reflects the elegant 69th Street townhouse it once was, and the father/daughter team of Fred and Claire Distenfeld have clearly gone to lengths to include designers and brands you may not have seen or even heard of before. We didn't recognize many of the labels we saw, except in the tiny, surprisingly casual men's department which, reportedly outsourced to the folks behind Union in Los Angeles, featured Comme des Garçons, Bespoken and the Japanese cult label Visvim. Actually, the men's section was so small (half of a small room) that we wonder if it is even worth having in such an otherwise feminine store, but then you never know what's going to hit when you first open a store. Overall, the merchandised is presented with care, in a gallery-like way in places, highlighting the most adventurous styles meant for the most adventurous customers with a clear message that this is not the place to stop in for basics.

Fivestory is the kind of store that appears in New York only occasionally: The Ambitious, High Profile, Multi-Brand Luxury Boutique. Every season we will get a few new single designer stores planting their flags on the city's most popular shopping streets, and the multi-brand category has long been dominated by the rival contemporary chains Intermix and Scoop. In the luxury sector, however, it seems like only once in a while that a retailer has the nerve to take on the now well established likes of Jeffrey, Kirna Zabête and the towering obstacle course of fashion that is Opening Ceremony.  The Distenfelds have engineered an impressive publicity blitz including a glittery opening party and a covetable preview post in the New York Times written by Cathy Horyn. They also have have the sense to intuit a lack of just this sort of store on the Upper East Side. While all of its aforementioned potential competitors thrive below 14th Street, Fivestory finds itself in the middle of a renewed retail interest in Madison Avenue. "...I wanted to create something that had a really beautiful marriage between laid-back comfortable and downtown cool, but also embedded with this elegant, beautiful Upper East Side grandeur that has been around forever,” Claire Distdenfeld tells WWD. Will it become as influential as Colette in Paris, 10 Corso Como in Milan or the original Henri Bendel in its 1970s heyday? All three are stores that Ms. Distenfeld has claimed as inspiration. They set a very high bar indeed, but we may have to wait a little longer than the time it takes for the paint to fully dry to see if Fivestory reaches those lofty standards.

FIVESTORY 18 East 69th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, Upper East Side

Fivestory, a New Midtown Boutique, Chooses Carefully By Cathy Horyn (On The Runway/New York Times)
Madison Ave. Shift: Uptown, the New Downtown? by Jessica Iredale (WWD)


Zac Posen, Prada, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein Collection, Céline, Christian Louboutin, Burberry, Gucci, Chloé, Balenciaga

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!

Judith Leiber, Elie Tahari, Escada, Judith Ripka, Swarovski, Zac Posen, Susanan Monaco, La Victoire, Cynthia Rowley, Noir, SPANX, Hanii Yjoin HERE
J. Lindeberg, Calvin Klein Underwear, Ben Sherman, Randolph Engineering, Adidas SLVR, Abito, Florsheim by Duckie Brown, Versace, Martin Greenfield, Icebreaker, Vintage Shoe Co.join HERE
Momeni One-of-a-Kind Rugs & Accessories, Cuisinart, HomArt, Picnic at Ascot, Lady M Cakes, Core Bamboo, The Land Of Nod, Lamaze Toys, Puma/Gola, Beetlejuice Gorls Dresses, KidKraft, Kingsleyjoin HERE
Yves Saint Laurent, J Brand, Under.ligne by Doo.Ri, Converse, Candice Olson Lighting & Rugs, Mrs. Prindables, Calvin Klein Collection, Natori, Ricci Argentieri, Signoria Firenze, Celine Handbags & Sunglasses, Mario Batali, BCBGenerationjoin HERE
Christian Louboutin, Botkier, Chaser L.A., Burberry, Gucci, Furla, Original Penguin, Black Hearts Brigade, Chloé, Wendy Mink, Balenciaga, Vitamin A, Prada, Charriol, TOD'S, Richrocks, LM Collection, Drifter, X-Rayjoin HERE
Adrianna Papell, Arturo Chiang, Boyd's Cosmetics, Dolce Vita Espadrilles, CARMEN Carmen Marc Valvo, Core Bamboo, Furla, Kalorik, Time For Ceramics, Bebe Featuring Luichiny, Genetic Heys USA, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Girl, Walt Disney Signature, Erwin Pearl/Majoricajoin HERE
TUMI, ThomasPaul, Orient Express Occasional Furniture, Deroma Planters, Ralph Lauren Furniture, Hästens Bedding, NuLoom Ikat Pillows, Stark Rugs, Tony Duquette Jewelry, Tom Slaughter Printsjoin HERE
Rebecca Minkoff, Ben Minkoff,  Jessica Simpson Jewelry Collection, Billabong, Vincent Longo, Tretorn, Brooks Shoes, MOR, Andrew Marc & Marc New York, Trina Turk Swimwear, What Goes Around Comes Around, PUMA Boys, Chinese Laundry, Calvin Klein Home, Donald J Pliner, Lady Primrose, Da-Nang, Kensie, Mephisto, Butter, Terax, Triple Five Soul, Caswell Massey, Amrita Singhjoin HERE
Halston, JD Fisk, Delman, Gary Graham, Kimberly Ovitz, Kosta Boda, GANT by Michael Bastian, Florsheim, 2(x)ist, Adidas SLVR, Bird By Juicy Couture, Adrienne Vittadini, Juicy Couture, Sebago, Mercer Asian Cutlery, Fresh, Jhane Barnes, STEVEN by Steve Madden, Rachel Roy, Kata Sunglasses, Chamak by Priya Jewelry, Safaviehjoin HERE
Kiton, Andrew Harper, Jan Leslie, Roberto Cavalli Watches, KWIATjoin HERE
Milton Glaser Prints, Karma Living, Rugcollective, Coloud Headphones, Hideo Wakamatsu, Cy Twombly GAETA, RUBR Watches, Daphne Olive Watches, Portionwarejoin HERE


CARR Launches A Posthumous Label For Fall 2012

CarrJohnAquinoWWDIs it possible to launch a label for a designer who has been dead for over a decade?
George Carr and Edward Jones III are about to find out when they debut the CARR label this fall. The brand is named for designer Zack Carr, who briefly had his own label in the 1980s but was best known as Calvin Klein's longtime Creative Director. He also happened to be George Carr's brother and died from a rare blood cancer in 2000. Well known and liked by fashion insiders, Zack Carr never achieved the kind of immense fame that could help promote a new label, but the new brand's founders are betting on the quality of vast archives of sketches that the designer left to creatively fuel the new collections. Jones tells WWD, “I think there’s an authenticity of design coming from Zack that is the foundation, which is really important, but we don’t have to live on that.” Carr's naturally clean-lined style should lend itself to a timeless point of view, and a design staff will adapt the thousands of sketches for modern modern sensibilities. And major retailers are already on board with the effort, too. Bloomingdale's and and Saks Fifth Avenue will be exclusively carrying the women's and men's collections respectively through Fall 2013.

Priced solidly in the Designer price range, there may also be a secret customer in wait for the launch: former, faithful Calvin Klein Collection customers who haven't been as charmed as the press has by Francisco Costa's take on the label since its namesake stepped away about a decade ago (The Collection component of the brand has diminished commercially since Klein retired). Who would have guessed that their solution would come from beyond?

George Carr Launching New Brand for Fall By Marc Karimzadeh (WWD)


Uniqlo Meets Warhol
With A Free Trip To The MoMA
+ Lulu Guinness
& More UU Uniqlo Undercover

It struck The Shophound this week that it has been weeks, weeks since our last visit to Uniqlo, that seemed impossible, so yesterday, we found ourselves at the 34th Street where we found:

A new delivery from the chain's latest ongoing collaboration, UU Uniqlo Undercover by Jun Takahashi. This round brings more Summer-y shorts, striped tees along with loose, printed dresses for women and camp shirts and carpenter's shorts with cunning hidden pockets for men. We would suggest the Fifth Avenue store for the best selection if you are a UU fan, and, once again, no fatties. Sizes still top out at a pretty skimpily cut Large.

Since this year's Summertime seems to feel free to barge its way through the Spring months (with no complaints from us), it's good that Uniqlo's popular UT t-shirt line has arrived in force. They are still $19.90, so you can't go too far wrong, although the women's selections have gotten heavy on the cutesy side with an excess of designs from Hello Kitty and Barbie. Though the kawaii overload could give anyone a toothache, shoppers looking for something more grown-up will be happy top find a new collaboration with designer Lulu Guinness. Sadly, it only t-shirts, not accessories, but there are 12 styles printed with the designer's distinctive, hand drawn designs.

Over on the men's side, the chain's latest dead-artist collab (after several seasons of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat) is none other than the Godfather of Pop Art himself, Andy Warhol offering clever silk screened tees featuring his most famous images (pictured above). You'll find the Campbell's Soup can and Brillo box as well as a few more obscure images. There are even a couple of the artist's earlier pre-Pop fashion illustrations on women's tops. The Warhol group coordinates well with a group designed in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art, and this month, Uniqlo will be giving away one free admission to the museum with the purchase of any two UT products (a $25 value). 4,000 tickets will be distributed through all three Uniqlo stores until supplies last, so go get little culture with your t-shirt.

UNIQLO (Official Site)


Maison Kitsuné Makes Its American Debut

The Shophound wandered into the higly anticipated new Maison Kitsuné store at the NoMad hotel yesterday only to be told that though the doors were open, the store was not. However the staff kindly invited us to have a look around anyway. They didn't go all lout and invite us to the opening party at LeBaron, but, you know, we take what we can get. Anyway, we can report that though modest in size, the boutique adds a certain flair to what continues to be one of the most strangely eclectic shopping neighborhood in the city.

For those unfailiar with the 10-year-old Kitsuné brand, it is both an apparel company that makes classic, even preppy styles filtered through a refined French sensibility and also a music label. The music side of the business is out of the spotlight in the new store which uses the elegant 1,200 square foot space to showcase the pricey but beautifully made men's and women's apparel collections along with exclusive shoes and accessories made for the store by labels like Want les Essentials de la Vie and  Pierre Hardy. We did not see the special edition J.M. Weston loafers that are reportedly being offered exclusively by the store, but we did glimpse a charming pair of multi-colored handsewn moccasins made for the brand by Maine shoemaker Quoddy.

The new store features a crisp and tidy restoration of the corner store at Broadway and 28th Street with a spanking new parquet floor and glowing globe shaped fixtures. It makes a nice companion a couple of blocks away for Opening Ceremony (which sells Kitsuné in its other locations), though the neighborhood still makes for an odd fit for the refined little shop. Only steps away are still an abundance of cheap wig and janky accessory dealers, and for all the hip folks who work in the nearby Flatiron district or in the home furnishings showrooms over on Fifth, there are just as many street vendors milling about because this is still the neighborhood where they buy their cheap sidewalk sunglasses and dodgy perfumes. We can't tell if the the NoMad and the Ace Hotels and their complementing boutiques will be able to completely remake this odd stretch between Greeley Square and the Flatiron Building into the next Meatpacking District, or even if that would be a good thing, but for now, it is probably the only part of town where you can get a $1,499 Liberty-print silk dress and a cheap bargain wig with some designer impostor perfume on exactly the same block. That must count as a unique shopping experience.

Maison Kitsuné in the NoMad Hotel 1170 Broadway at 28th Street, Midtown


Altuzarra Kicks Off J.Crew's CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Team Ups

AltuzarraJcrewNYTimesWe could probably write about a different designer collaboration every day here at The Shophound, but Joseph Atuzarra's capsule collection for J.Crew, which will be available to order tomorrow and appear in the lower Fifth Avenue mega-flagship on Monday, is of a particular sort. It isn't an initiative between the designer and the retailer to create interest, but a prize awarded by the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to the winner and runners up of its annual grant. This year it is winner Altuzzara who gets the honor of kicking off the series with a French Riviera-inspired collection that adapts his own sensibility to J.Crew's sporty offerings instead of simply replicating his own label at a lower price point. “J. Crew stands for that very American idea of prep, but I thought it would be cool to do something inspired by Bardot and St.-Tropez,” the designer tells The New York Times. “It’s very Jean Seberg. There’s the idea of Breton sweaters, denim skirts and what you would wear on the French Riviera.”

The seven piece collection will include gingham dresses and sailor striped sweaters. Runners up Pamela Love and Creatures of the Wind will have similar collections available in June and July, repeating last year's offerings from Billy Reid, Prabal Gurung and Eddie Borgo. Though Antonio Azzuolo and Carlos Campos were among the finalists for the prize coveted among young designers, there were no menswear designers in the final three. To make up for this, The Gap, which once hosted collections from the CFDA/Vogue winners, will be presenting its own capsules from GQ's Best New Menswear Designer finalists later this year.

So really, between these lines and regular offerings from Macy's, H&M, Uniqlo and any number of other stores and brands, at this point, a person could dress him or herself entirely in designer collaborations all the time. Doesn't sound like a bad thing to us.

The Cut has a slide show of the entire Altuzarra capsule collection. Click HERE.

Front Row: The Preppy Sets Sail in the Riviera By Eric Wilson (NYTimes)
The Latest J.Crew CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Collaborations—and How to Wear Them (Vogue.com)
GQ's Best New Menswear Designers For 2012 Will Collaborate With The Gap (2/23/2012)


Retro Redux Edition

Critical Shopper: Haute HippieThis week's Critical Shopper, Alexandra Jacobs returns to the Thursday Styles by taking on the new Haute Hippie boutique in NoLita. Something about Haute Hippie has always bugged The Shophound, but it's not the actual clothes. Maybe it's the literal name of the label, which doesn't leave room for much surprise. Still, "hippie" is a look that seems to have no expiration date now that we have hit the age of incessant decade surfing in fashion. We're not entirely sure that Jacobs totally gets that the rich hippie concept has been around since long before Tom Ford's YSL peasant blouse of 2011. It pretty much goes back to the days of the original Hippies (see Giorgio di Saint'Angelo, Thea Porter, Zandra Rhodes etc.), an early example of designers lifting inspiration from the streets. After a brief, obligatory ode to rich hippie #1, Talitha Getty, whose sordid days in Morocco have been ghoulishly over-romanticized by too many designers, we get to the store itself. Jacobs seems mildly charmed but not necessarily bowled over by what her cheerful salesperson suggests,

Becca from Boston kindly entrusted me with a floaty delicate taupe tunic top that she said had been hand-beaded in India ($795). It was gorgeous, even though the idea could be approximated for a fraction of the price at Do Kham, the veteran Tibetan emporium down the street, which I fear will eventually suffer a hostile takeover from a gluten-free cupcake shop.

God forbid! This city is lousy with cupcakes.

Critical Shopper: Well-Tended Flower Children By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Haute Hippie 9 Prince Street between Elizabeth Street & The Bowery, NoLita


Is The Meatpacking District's Growth
Undermining Its Prestige?

It's been about 10 years since the Meatpacking District fully shifted from, well, actual meat packing along with a few adventurous nightspots to a major designer shopping destination. While fearless restaurants like the much loved Florent, and bars and clubs like Hell, the Lure and Jackie 60 gave the neighborhood a cool and even racy cachet, the retail invasion inaugurated by luxury players Jeffrey, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen eventually swept those pioneering businesses away, along with Western Beef and the butchers.

Next came the renovated High Line park, a couple of glitzy, modern attention-getting hotels, and louder, more mainstream bars and restaurants with "disco brunches" which are setting the stage for a third phase of development that threatens to wipe away the high end designers in favor of more mainstream national brands and chains accustomed to paying higher rents.

Cachet and prestige are fragile things, and just as quickly as the westernmost stretch of 14th Street became an elite shopping area, it may soon become a more populist one. Stella McCartney is already out in favor of SoHo, perhaps thinking that if she is going to be in a busy tourist area, she should take maximum advantage of potential traffic. Alexander McQueen's store is reportedly weighing its options as its lease comes up for renewal. Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent wound up choosing SoHo as well when it came time to place upcoming Downtown boutiques.

Lucrative for its landlords, but less interesting for customers, the new development is vexing for the area's residents, many of whom feel that the small neighborhood has hit the limit for traffic and activity. WWD is reporting that the arrival of the Whitney Museum in 2015 is also pushing up rents in the neighborhood. New York designers and longtime Meatpacking boutique Rubin & Chapelle has just closed its 14th street shop and will reopen shortly in SoHo. Meanwhile, it seems that high end designers are being replaced not by others like them, but less expensive contemporary brands like Alice & Olivia, which is taking over McCartney's store and moving its showroom upstairs as well. While on Madison Avenue, such brands mix easily with more rarefied designers, downtown, it looks like they are pushing them away, Diane von Furstenberg's more gently priced contemporary brand with its prominent corner boutique and headquarters seems to be setting the pace for the neighborhood the way Jeffrey did 10 years ago.

Jeffrey, now owned mostly by Nordstrom, looks like he is staying put, but his new neighbors seem not as likely to attract the sort of folks who are willing to invest in his stratospherically priced goods. UGG is coming soon. Sephora is already there, and what is expected to take root in the area sounds like more stores which are already well represented throughout the city, making the neighborhood a still charming, but no longer an especially unique destination. While this might be great for Scoop, Vince, Intermix, Levi's and all those premium denim shops, it might not be so favorable for the more luxurious Krizia (pictured above), Ports 1961 and Moschino, each a single flagship for its brand in New York and relatively recent arrivals to the neighborhood who may have hoped for things to move in a more pure luxury direction.

The other factor is the possible expansion of the Chelsea Market, the food and office complex which was a major factor in the neighborhood's earlier transformation. Crain's tells us that Owner Jamestown Property wants to keep the momentum going with a 330,000 square foot addition atop the building which would include yet another hotel. Community groups are not happy even though they love the building's food market which features a series of independent culinary businesses (as well as the controversial addition of Anthropologie in a prominent space).

How much is too much is an endless debate that takes place all over the city. Do you miss shopping at Bodum and Stella McCartney on the same block as Western Beef, or are you happier that there's yet another Sephora downtown?

The Meatpacking District's Changing Face by David Moin (WWD)
Chelsea Market tops itself by Theresa Agovino (Crain's)


Coco-Mat's Rosemary Charou
Will Sell You A Good Night's Sleep

Cocomat120419_250New York Magazine's "Ask A Shop Clerk" feature seems to be increasing in frequency. Recently, SoHo's Coco-Mat is in the spotlight, which only reminded The Shophound of the last time "Ask A Shop Clerk" interrogated a mattress seller. It's been a while, so we don't know whether Hästens' Ryan Stepka is still hawking pricey mattresses, but he's old news now. SoHo's top mattress seller is now Rosemary Charou, who will send you to sleep on one of Coco-Mat's not-at-all inexpensive all natural beds. Rosemary is not nearly as personally forthcoming as her erstwhile predecessor. In fact she's all business and product knowledge, so we don't learn much about her at all. We do learn that her mattresses are all natural and metal free, meaning no springs and only natural rubber, coconut fiber, real seaweed, horsehair, and wool and other natural materials are used in the products. Sounds nice. How does $1,660 sound as an opening price point? There are some extra added selling points:

NY Mag: What makes that better than a regular mattress?
Rosemary: Rubber is one of the most hypoallergenic materials in nature—except for those allergic to latex, of course. And because these have organic cotton and wool covers, you won’t get dust mites.

NYM: What about bedbugs?
R: That’s the great thing: Natural rubber is inhospitable to bedbugs. They don’t like the smell.

If you can repel bedbugs, you can probably sell those beds for whatever you want in New York City.

Ask a Shop Clerk: Rosemary Charou (NYMagazine)
Coco-Mat 49 Mercer Street near Broome Street, SoHo
Employee Of The Week: Ryan Stepka at Hästens (10/30/2006)


Vivienne Westwood, Gucci, Zilli, YSL, Carolina Herrera, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Miu Miu, Furla, Bottega Veneta

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!

Free People, Dolce Vita/DV, Breil Watches, Elie Tahari, Vendoro Jewelry, Carolina Herrera, Current/Elliott, Eberjey/Jenna Leigh, Factory by Erik Hart, Seychelles, Kendra Scott Jewelry, Marc Jacobs Collection Accessories, ADAM/Vanessa Bruno. Paul Smith/Mosely Tribes Singlasses, Rachel Zoe, Helmut Lang, Kenneth Jay Lane —join HERE
Topman, Generic Man, Eastland Shoes, WILL Leathergoods, Chan Luu, 2(x)ist, Luciano Brandi, Thomas Pink—join HERE
nuLOOM, New Yorker, Thomas Keller Gluten-Free Flour, Missoni Home, bergHOFF, The Land of Nod, Wud Workers, Emile et Rose, Speed Racer Hot Wheels, 9 Seed Maternity, Da-Nang Girls, HQ Kites —join HERE
The Russian Tea Room, Furla, Cuisinart, William Rast, VIVOBAREFOOT, Robbi & Nikki by Robert Rodriguez, Freeze 24-7, D.L. & Co., Judith Ripka, Herve Chapelier, Adrienne Vittadini, Anne Cole Swim, Cushe, Geox, Bottega Veneta, Swiss Legend, Michael Stars, Liz palacios, Gucci Watches, Splendid, Aidan Mattox, Devon Leigh —join HERE
Miu Miu, Vince Camuto, Tadashi, Jack Victor, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Pour La Victoire, Gucci, Alara, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada, Jardin, Celine, Three Dots, Bottega Veneta, Socheec, Jeffrey Campbell, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Cohesive —join HERE
ABS by Allen Schwartz, Andrew Marc, Kische, M60 Miss Sixty, Simon & Schuster Books, Denimocracy, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Momeni Rugs & Pillows, Rarefied, Shae, D&G, Ellen Tracy, Gorjana, Seda France —join HERE
Diane Keaton Tag Sale, Sabira/Frog Hill Designs, Vera Wang Bedding, Archipelago, Jax & Bones for Dogs, Saatchi Online, Mehraban, Provence Style, Pop Art, Casafina, Juliska, Wesley Hall Furniture  —join HERE
Alessandro Dell'Acqua, Versace Collection, Andre Assous, Wolfgang Puck, Angela Adams, Catherine Angiel Jewelry, A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, Diane von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Michel Cazabat, Nambe, Yves Saint Laurent, ZILLI, Kara Ross Jewelry, Bass —join HERE
Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti, Natori, WMF —join HERE
Andy Warhol by SEIKO, Diamanti & Domeniconi, Frank Worth Hollywood Photographs, Manhattan Portage, ABC Carpet & Home, Friends of the High Line, Cook's Illustrated, Vitra, Sempli —join HERE