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A Bad Week For Bars As Emerald Inn Gives Way To Kate Spade

It's the endless Manhattan rent story as longtime local landmarks that add charm and history to resurgent neighborhoods fall victim to the gentrification forces that they have inadvertently helped. Yesterday brought the news that the Emerald Inn, a 70 year old pub on Columbus Avenue has two more months to live after which it will be replaced by a Kate Spade store. The bar has along history of serving the West Side's celebrity locals from nearby Lincoln Center and ABC Studios and even serving as a set for one of Jack Lemmon's iconic scenes in the classic Billy Wilder comedy "The Apartment". Had the owners of the bar renewed their lease, it would have doubled from its current level, which was already at a negotiated increase from only a couple of years ago. Too much for a bar, but not for the corporately owned Kate Spade which will probably do well with Theory, Rag & Bone and Intermix only a few steps away —but what kind of scotch will they serve?

While Columbus Avenue has been gentrified decades ago, it has undergone a retail renaissance in recent years on the stretch between 72nd Street and Lincoln Center that has once again sent rents soaring. Other Irish pubs in the neighborhood are feeling the same pressure and may very likely run into the same problems, making the neighborhood pub an endangered species in the Upper West Side.

With Rent Ever Higher, Irish Pub Gives Up (City Room/NYTimes via RACKED)


Not Getting Married Today Edition

28ZCRIT3-popupHere are a few things we learned from today's Critical Shopper column in the Thursday Styles as Alexandra Jacobs checks out Monique Lhuillier's Upper East Side boutique/bridal salon:

The 80's Wham hit "Everything She Wants" is apparently an "old standard" now. Really? George Michael must be so thrilled to finally join the ranks of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

If you are gown shopping, bring your own shoes. Despite launching a new shoe collection, Lhuillier reportedly does not provide try-on heels (which is, frankly, hard to believe).

Lhuillier is confident enough about her own talents to have glossy volumes featuring Chanel, Balenciaga and Dior arrayed in her salon for the bored shopping companion to peruse.

Jacobs seems to find "brand extensions" like scented candles and home fragrances "cheesy". What must she think of Lhuillier's Waterford china, crystal and flatware collections, or her perfectly relevant stationery and invitation line? How else is a designer supposed to make an extra buck theses days?

The bridal floor upstairs is like one big, plush communal, photo-friendly dressing room, "with visitors casually tossing their purses on the floor and browsing while still half-dressed." We are pretty sure that, in reality, this scene is not nearly as soft-core as it sounds. We have seen "Bridesmaids".

Critical Shopper: Branching Out From the Altar By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Monique Lhuillier 19 East 71st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, Upper East Side


Vince Camuto To Go Upscale
On Madison Avenue

When we heard that the burgeoning footwear turned lifestyle brand Vince Camuto was taking over Cole Haan's store at Madison Avenue and 61st Street, we thought, "Sounds cheap," especially to open up right across the street from Barneys right in the middle of the most luxurious shopping district in Manhattan. If the signage that now covers the currently-under-renovation space is any indication, however, the location will be devoted to the VC Signature label, which offers more luxurious footwear in the $185 to $495 range. So, yeah, it's still a little on the low end for Madison Avenue for a corner just a few steps from Brian Atwood, Roger Vivier and Tods, not to mention Barneys' lavish shoe floor, but it's not quite the downgrade we and, presumably, the upcoming store's neighbors thought it would be. The Camuto brand has stores on 34th Street and in Grand Central Terminal with a flagship on Broadway in SoHo and a Flatiron district store on the way. This long and narrow 1,700 square foot store may be better suited to promote its higher end shoe and handbag line, possibly along with the about to be launched men's collection, and downplay the lower end products. When will it open? We don't know just yet, but we are guessing it will take until late Spring or early Summer to remove the Cole-Haan-nes and install a new look.


Fashion's Night Out
Is Staying In This Fall

FNOhiatusSometimes, the backlash wins out.
Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Co. have confirmed that Fashion's Night Out, the sprawling promotional event designed to draw customers into stores and encourage Fall shopping, will not be happening in the U.S. this Fall. First held on the eve of Fashion Week in September 2009, it was originally designed to give a jump start to stores suffering through a punishing recession. It featured a combination of special appearances from designers and celebrities along with musical performances and any number of other stunts all on the same night —with drinks. Lots of free drinks. After repeating the event annually and more elaborately for the next three years, participants from nearly every sector involved began questioning whether the concept had become overly hyped and whether it was actually succeeding in bringing real customers into stores to shop. Many merchants began to feel like they were being pressured to open their doors to the masses who were really more interested in free drinks and a lively party than buying new clothes. Designers in particular were typically not pleased to be trotted out to the public while they were in the midst of high pressure, last minute preparations for their Fashion Week runway shows. Barneys, for example has pointedly opted out of the event entirely for the past two years, and nobody has ever been able to fully quantify the event's effectiveness in a solid dollar amount of increased sales. Bowing to FNO fatigue, the event's organizers have put it on hiatus until... well, nobody seems to know exactly when it will return. In the event that rogue retailers decide to hold their own FNO-style events independently, the organization's website is explicitly clear that the moniker is trademarked and not to be used without permission. The event will live on in selected international cities, but for now, at least in the U.S., it looks like Fashion's Night Out is packing it in.

Fashion's Night Out (Official Site)
Fashion's Night Out on Hiatus in U.S. (WWD)


City Snatches 20 Food Carts from SoHo

DNAinfoFoodCartIt looks like the conflict between Manhattan Community Board 2 and the sidewalk food vendors of SoHo is heating up. Last month, the board passed a resolution asking Mayor Bloomberg to streamline and clarify the rules and regulations governing  street vending on the neighborhood's main artery, Broadway between East Houston and Canal Streets, and it looks like they have gotten a response. Late last week, the Health Department shut down 20 carts on that street for various violations including operating continuously or being left unattended. By operating around the clock, carts do not get a chance to be cleaned properly (if at all) which is something to think about if you get an off hour urge to buy a snack from a food cart. The raid took place between 1 and 5 AM, so it's pretty safe to say that the carts were caught off-guard.

SoHo residents have battled the proliferation of street vendors congesting sidewalk traffic ever since SoHo became a major tourist and shopping destination, and as the neighborhood has gotten even more popular, the fight has gotten more bitter. Now it looks like the city is at least making an attempt to mollify local residents as well as retailers who have longstanding complaints about the additional garbage and foot traffic created by the excess of vendors in the area. DNAinfo reports that most of the carts were still out of commission on Monday afternoon, leaving the always busy sidewalks cleaner and easier to navigate.

As for the vendors, the Health Department will allow them to resume operating once they have corrected violations, paid permit decal replacement fees, and passed inspections. One thing we are fairly sure of is that this conflict is only likely to escalate in the coming months, particularly as weather eventually warms up.

20 SoHo Food Carts Closed by Health Department (DNAinfo)
Could SoHo's Sidewalks Get Unclogged?


Today's Nina Ricci Event on My Habit
Mulberry, Space NK, Chloé, Calvin Klein, M Missoni, Sandro, Ann Demeulemeester, Lacoste

Lately we have been hearing about special relationships between designers and the increasing number of Flash Sale sites, and today brings a special event on Amazon's MY HABIT with Nina Ricci. A special selection of items will be available on the site today at Noon EST featuring items originally ranging from $790 to $4890, now offered at $299 to $1499. They are so excited that they had a special lookbook created for the sale photographed by photo-blogger Jamie Beck of Cinemagraphs. Expect to see more special collections like this in the future as these sites continue to compete with and differentiate themselves from one another

Also, please find your weekly sampling of some of the other 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!

Valentino RED, Badgley Mischka/Mark + James, Kendra Scott, Space NK Apothecary, The Addison Story, M Missoni, James Jeans, Candela, Butter, Sandro, Chloé, Calvin Klein, Ben Sherman Plectrum, J. Fold, Ivory Mason Optical, Canali, Billionaire Boys Club, Tumi Sunglasses, Brooks Brothers Boys & Girls, Oscar de la Renta Kids, Kitchen Aid, BlissLiving —join HERE
Chloé, Shoshanna, Gurhan, Heys USA, Fratelli Rosetti, Ike Behar, Stuart Weitzman, Lilla P, Pierre Balmain, Cole Haan, Escada Sport, Philip Stein Watches, Notte by Marchesa, KidCraft, Christian Louboutin, Cullen, Picnic at Ascot, Tommy Bahama, Cluny, Villeroy & Bosch, Belle by Sigerson Morrison, Kassatex —join HERE
Salvatore Ferragamo, Tom Ford, Romeo & Juliet Couture, Inhabit, Global Glam, Chan Luu, Mulberry Nicole Miller Heys USA, Prada, Melange Home, Kalorik, Yves Saont Laurent, Lago Drogo, Etro —join HERE
Elizabeth and James, Orrefors, Sebastian, Blossom, Charles Jourdan Hale Bob, Nambé, Belargo, Gracia, Kensie, Kalorik, Tod's —join HERE
Calvin Klein Collection, Splendid, Calypso St. Barth, Fergie, Façonnable, Chantelle, Keen, Richard Chai for Original Penguin, Free People, Vince Camuto, Reebok, Melange Home, NYLA, Liebeskind, Steve Madden, Hunter, Tart, Rain —join HERE
Cullen, Saachi Scarves, Calvin Klein, Isabella Fiore, Michael Kors Eyewear, Zelda, Core Bamboo, Farberware, Hickey Freeman, Martin Gordon, Lacoste, Kova & T, Erin Fetherston, Fila, Ann Demeulemeester, FALLON Jewelry —join HERE
Julia Knight, Carolee, Yves Saint Laurent, G.H. Bass & Co., French Connection, BergHOFF  —join HERE


Barneys Warehouse Sale To Officially Move To Metropolitan Pavilion
—But Why Bother?

BarneysWarehouseFinalYesterday marked the end the last Barneys Warehouse Sale in its traditional Chelsea location, and the retailer took the opportunity to officially confirm to shoppers what The Shophound has predicted: that the sale would relocate to the Metropolitan Pavilion a couple blocks East on 18th Street. Of course, having seen the pitiful selection of merchandise that was left even by the time the sale was halfway over, we have wonder if it is worth holding the live, walk-in version of the sale at all?

One has to remember that when the Warehouse Sale originally created, Barneys was more of a local destination on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Seventeenth Street (now the homes of Loehmann's and the Rubin Museum of Art), and holding on off-site sale was a great way to clear out inventory from the previous season while devoting the main store's limited floor space to current, full price merchandise. Since then, however the retailer has expanded, added a whole network of 13 outlet stores and, just this season, created an ongoing Barneys Warehouse website that will be open all the time.

Much like the Academy Awards, the Barneys Warehouse Sale has always given shoppers something to criticize and complain about, but regular customers will probably be able to point to incredible designer deals in their closets that they never could have been able to afford if they hadn't found them at the sale -usually during it's last days when additional discounts can reach up to 50% and 60% off the lowest ticket price. We certainly have a few, but there hardly any such items this time when the sale's offerings were dramatically diminished from the first day. Most of the designer items for men and women were reserved for the website, where many of them are still available but without any additional reductions from their final clearance prices in Barneys' stores. Who knows when, if ever, they will be re-reduced?

So, at this point, with outlets and a full-time off-price clearance e-commerce site why do they even need do do theses sales at all? In fairness, it's more profitable for the store to sell clearance items online in an ongoing manner without slashing prices so dramatically, so we can't blame them for creating what is really an off-price e-commerce site that should compete with the likes of Bluefly or Yoox. Next season, they have already given notice that the sale would focus only on men's tailored clothing and dress furnishings, but if the reduced selection we saw last week is any indication of what we can expect -and much of it felt like we had already seen it at previous Warehouse Sales- then we don't see why Barneys should even bother continuing with it at all. As we said when we reviewed this sale's first day offerings, The Warehouse Sale that we knew and loved is finished. Let's let it go.

Barneys Warehouse Sale (Official Site)
Warehouse Report:
About the Sad Excuse For A Barneys Warehouse Sale That Opened Yesterday


Is The Webster Coming To SoHo?

RACKED-the-webster-miami-soho-29-greene-stCan a luxury store designed for glamorous Miami transplant itself to New York? The New York Post says that The Webster, the Collins Avenue retailer featuring a covetable roster of designer labels, will be taking over a 4,000 square foot outpost at 29 Greene Street just below Grand Street in SoHo. The Webster may be best known to non-South Beach denizens as one of the first group of stores to participate in The Shops at Target last Spring. Will its signature pink flamingo survive the flight north? Owners Laure Heriard Dubreuil and Milan Vukmirovic have backgrounds in European fashion brands and retailers like Colette, Jil Sander, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, so they should fit right in if the store appears in SoHo. There's no confirmation from either the store or the owners of the building, but if the rumors are true, then it will be an interesting Fall if The Webster opens up at the same time as Comme des Garçon's Dover Street Market. Think of it as a luxury boutique Face-Off.

Pink flamingo seen in SoHo (NYPost via RACKED)
The Webster (Official Site)


Marchesa Designer To Bring An Extravagant Touch to JCPenney

JCPenney's controversial makeover continues to provide us with surprises, including the news that Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman will be launching an exclusive collection for the department store next month. Penney's will be opening 500 in-store boutiques (pictured above) for the special occasion and party dress line to be called "Pearl by Georgina Chapman of Marchesa". Yes it's a mouthful, but it strategically downplays the Marchesa name to fine print in order to avoid rankling the luxury retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus who sell the brands more exclusive and expensive lines. Prices will run from $50 to $200, with the bulk of the offerings falling in the $70 to $100 range.

Of the new venture, Chapman tells WWD, “It’s got a slightly different attitude, a younger attitude, but it all comes from me. It retains the same sensibility and design aesthetic. I wanted it be fun. So a young girl can put on a dress and imagine she’s about to have an incredible night out. I really wanted to reach a larger demographic and larger audience.”

Jumping from iconic red-carpet looks to the mass market is an almost unprecedented leap for any designer, especially one as rarefied and couture-oriented as Marchesa, but JCP, as the store wants to be known, is banking on the unexpected to bring new customers through its doors. Pearl's first delivery will be aimed at Prom shoppers, and the store will be advertising on this weekend's Academy Awards to take maximum advantage of the designer's red carpet associations.

J.C. Penney to Launch Georgina Chapman Line (WWD)


New York Fashion Week's
Diversity Levels Drop

JEZEBELfashionweek-fall13-piechartA few years ago, there was a great deal of concern over the lack of racial diversity on the Fashion Week runways of New York and the rest of the world, and The Shophound took it upon ourselves to tabulate how well the shows we saw represented models of color. In the ensuing seasons, the situation appeared to improve, and we stopped counting faces in part because we found ourselves paying more attention to the models than the clothes. The folks at Jezebel, however have been vigilantly tracing such data, and this week they reported that though things may have improved in the past, last week's shows showed something of a backslide in diversity with white models taking up a whopping 82.7% of the runway appearances in New York's fashion shows (see one of their many charts at left). Though some designers offered more diversity than others, most shows featured only a relative few appearances by models of color. In fact, there were 13 shows which featured no non-white models at all.

It should be noted that Jezebel compiled their data from the top 151 women's runway shows covered by Style.com, and did not include many other less prominent designers collections or men's shows like Nautica which, in particular, has always featured a diverse lineup. Another factor to consider is that many of the industry's top models have been skipping New York's show season altogether in recent years, including recognizable faces of color. Joan Smalls, on of the industry's biggest names skipped New York entirely, but made her way to Europe for Tom Ford, Gucci and Fendi, so far. Despite Jourdan Dunn's welcome return to New York's runways after several seasons, many popular models of recent years who added to diversity like Arlenis Sosa, Lakshmi Menon and Chanel Iman have made their presences scarce in New York. This may be partly a result of the widely held belief that fewer and fewer designers in New York are now paying their models in actual cash, offering clothes instead, or in some cases, just the valuable exposure of appearing on a prestigious runway. That is a subject for a different though not unrelated discussion, though it hardly makes it worthwhile for many of the top faces to even bother with New York Fashion Week at all.

As we wrote this post, we took a few minutes to watch Prada's fall collection livestreamed from Milan. Among a cast of recognizable veteran stars including Adriana Lima and Jessica Stam, who pick and choose their runway appearances, we saw no dark skinned faces at all*, which is, unfortunately, not unusual for the brand. We did see a few Asian models, however. According to Jezebel's data, designers are more likely to hire models of Asian ethnicity than darker skinned ones, and it's not to difficult connect the dots to the importance of the vast and fast growing Chinese market. It's too bad that a sophisticated and influential brand like Prada, and they are not alone in this apparent practice, appears to be using such a simpleminded approach to diversity in their casting —to the extent that they are using any approach at all.

Click over to Jezebel for their full report and meticulously calculated statistics. It is both illuminating and disappointing.

*After checking the runway looks we realized that Prada did cast Cora Emmanuel, a black model, whom we didn't immediately recognize in the live streamed show. So that's one out of 48.

Fashion Week’s Models Are Getting Whiter By Jenna Sauers (Jezebel)