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Insta-Dressing In SoHo Edition

Photo by Emily Andrews for The New York Times

A new Critical Shopper has arrived at the Thursday Styles today. We don't know if Katherine Bernard will take over Molly Young's women's shopping duties permanently, but she does give us a respectable survey of the new Balmain boutique that quietly opened its doors earlier this month in SoHo. Don't worry if you are concerned that glittering label's thirst for publicity is starting to wane. The official opening party is scheduled as this year's Met Ball after-party on Monday night. Now you can picture the requisite Kardashian/West/Jenner extravaganza, and our shopper reminds us that it is almost impossible to make mention of the Balmain brand without also using the words Kardashian and Instagram. She also notes pointedly that Instagram followers do not necessarily translate into throngs of eager customers. Despite Balmain's social media following of multiple millions, the store is a quiet and serene environment in neutral shades of beige and black when she visits mostly because clicking 'like' and 'follow' are free, but owning single piece of Balmain apparel beyond a $365 t-shirt requires four figure investment at minimum. And what of those clothes? They are tight.

These clothes are honest. They hold you. My designer friend tells me that the fabric embrace comes from technically advanced four-way stretch. There’s pull and lift. There’s no darting or corseting, it’s just extremely special fabric.

Ultimately, the experience seems like a taste of fantasy, complete with a salesperson impersonating a paparazzo. For better or worse, Balmain and its once reserved designer Olivier Roustieng has thrown their lot in with social media stars and red carpet glitz. The rabid rush for last Fall's H&M collaboration collection proved that, so if runway walking  in glittery opulence is your aspiration (and within your means), your boutique has arrived.

Critical Shopper: The Balmain Army Steps Out By Katherine Bernard (NYTimes)
Balmain 100 Wooster Street between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo


Manolo Blahnik's Sample Sale Is Tomorrow

Images: ManoloBlahnik.com

As per usual, the notice is last minute, but pro shoppers know to be prepared.
One of the pinnacles of the sample sale season, the MANOLO BLAHNIK sample sale has been confirmed to start tomorrow, April 27th at its usual Warwick Hotel home on the corner of 6th Avenue and 54th Street. Doors are set to open at 11 AM, which means you should start lining up at about the crack of dawn. Prices will start at $125. Generally, they top out at about $500- $600 for extravagances like alligator or ostrich skin boots. Bring CASH ONLY. No plastic or mobile payment.
As always, beware of aggressive shoe maniacs. If you have been there before, you know what to expect. If you haven't, brace yourself. this is one of the biggies. See our SALE ROLL at left for details, and good shopping luck to you.


Hit Or Miss At Scoop's Warehouse Sale + Helmut Lang, Carven & Christofle

We are just on the edge of where the Sample Sale season starts to heat up, but until that happens next month, there are a few major events not to be missed for Sale mavens.

Today, the SCOOP NYC Warehouse Sale (pictured above and below )makes a return engagement after being MIA for a season. You may understand why after a visit. In past seasons, the sale has been worth lining up for on Day 1, as well as visiting throughout the week as discounts deepened on a ton of designer and contemporary goods for men and women. From what we could gather from last night's preview, however, the merchandise available seemed just more meager than it has been in past seasons, which is probably why it has migrated to 260SampleSale's slightly smaller Greene Street location. On the plus side, though the flyers advertised 75% off, the discount we encountered was already 80%, so things are starting out at almost irresistible discounts —if there turns out to be anything you want. Runs through Sunday.

Uptown at 260 Fifth Avenue, Dancewear brand BLOCH has taken over the store for a rare sample sale featuring all manner of dance footwear and apparel for Women, Men and Chidren. It's a rare opportunity that is likely to turn out all manner of twinkletoes from amateurs to the city's deep bench of professionals. Shop through Sunday.

On Wednesday, contemporary label ALICE & TRIXIE will be offering its 100% silk separates at discounts of 80% off and more for 3 days in the Garment District. As an added enticement, the first 100 customers will receive a free gift with purchase.

Also on Wednesday Sample Sale stalwart HELMUT LANG will open at Chelseas Market featuring Men's and women's collections discounted up to 60% off. This may not, as many regular sample sale shoppers know, be the only Helmut Lang sale we see this season, but each one tends to have something to offer. Shop through Sunday.

Covetable French label CARVEN is launching its first New York sample sale on Thursday for 2 days in West Chelsea. Expect some dedicated fans as the discounts are promised up to 80% off including Samples and Stock for both men and women. Shop through Friday.

Finally, the luxe French silver company CHRISTOFLE is making its seasonal appearance for four days starting this Sunday at Soiffer Haskin offering exceptional discounts on silver and silver plate flatware as well as hollowware, crystal, porcelain and other gifts and jewelry. As usual, they will share the space with a few other labels including JUDITH LEIBER who is promising evening bags, presumably including at least a few of Leiber's famous crystal paved minaudières. Speaking of sparkly things, the sale will also include gold and precious gemstone jewelry from PAOLO COSTAGLI.

Keep an eye on our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for times and locations and any late-braking events. Next week, save up for a French sportswear triple header from Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot as well as J.Lindeberg, Piazza Sempione and more.


Billy Reid, Aquazzura, Helmut Lang, Anna Sui, Alexandre Plokhov, Pierre Balmain, Chopard, Havaianas, SWIMS & More

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. Shop well!

Rachel Zoe, Isa Tapia Shoes, Lanvin, Stuhrling Watches, English Laundry, 7 for All Mankind, Reem Acra, Ivy Kirzhner Shoes, RACHEL Rachel Roy, Momo Maternity, Splendid, Unsimply Stitched, SWIMS, Alexander McQueen, Lladró, Nespresso, Seda France, UMA  —join HERE
Invicta, Hale Bob, Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman, Blush, Aquazzura, Scott Kay, 2(X)IST, Roxy Girls, Chopard, Havaianas, Frette, Shiraleah —join HERE
Hudson Jeans, Mario Valentino, Romeo & Juliet Couture, SKY, Tommy Hilfiger, Creative Recreation, TUMI, T Tahari, Loveappella, Peter Millar, Invicta, Unsimply Stitched, Nicole Miller, Liebeskind Berlin, Junk Food, Badgley Mischka, Base London, Nudie, Thomas Pink, Billy Reid —join HERE
Helmut Lang, Shae, Anna Sui, L.A.M.B., Forté, Alexandre Plokhov, Mezlan, Ermenegildo Zegna, Pierre Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana Shoes, Balenciaga Accessories, Céline Shoes, Stephen Dweck, PRPS, Tailorbird, Rick Owens/Vivienne Westwood, Timberland —join HERE


Amazon's MyHabit Flash Sale Site To Shutter Next Month

In another sign that the flash sale online shopping model has peaked, Amazon announced today that its MyHabit off price portal will shut down at the end of May. A relative latecomer to the flash sale game, MyHabit debuted in 2011, while sites like Gilt and RueLaLa were thriving, but as the field became oversaturated with too many players fighting over too little bona fide designer merchandise, the fascination with limited online sales cooled. Relative latecomers like Vente Privee bowed out without gaining any traction, and now MyHabit is following it, while Amazon focuses its fashion attention on its other, more full line businesses like ShopBop and its men's counterpart East Dane.

We will miss MyHabit. While the competition was definitely tough, the site managed to regularly offer a good selection of high-end merchandise at deep discounts from luxury brands like Ferragamo and Balenciaga as well as European designers like Jil Sander, DSquared2 and Rick Owens. At this point, however, it seems clear that even the preeminent flash sale sites are either winding down or becoming adjunct to larger, full service off price retailers like Haute Look's joining with Nordstrom Rack and even the once mighty Gilt's recent link-up with new sibling Saks Off-5th. Though My Habit was always connected to Amazon —you could even use their gift cards to shop on the site— its latecomer status kept it from taking advantage of the peak of the flash-sale craze. Its departure may, however, allow for more prized designer goods to be available to the remaining sites like Gilt and RueLaLa, so perhaps there's still hope for remaining flash-sale fans.

Amazon Shuttering Myhabit.com (WWD)


Francisco Costa & Italo Zucchelli Out At Calvin Klein As Raf Simons Rumors Swirl

Courtesy Images by Danny Clinch for Calvin Klein

Perhaps his own women's line is not what Raf Simons has in the works after all. Maybe he's heading Stateside.
The revolving door of Europe's biggest designer brands has opened in New York today as the exits of both Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli (pictured left and right above), creative directors at Calvin Klein Collection for women and men respectively, have been announced. The company has indicated that all Calvin Klein products will be unified under a single creative director yet to be disclosed, while fashion insiders filled in the blank with Raf Simons' name, a rumor that has apparently been percolating recently. The new creative head will be announced "in due course” according to the company, which is in keeping with the belief that a non-compete clause in Raf Simons' former contract with Dior is delaying the completion of any transition until this summer.
While both Costa and Zucchelli have been credited with maintaining the fashion authority of the Calvin Klein brand after its purchase by PVH and the retirement of it's namesake, commercially, the Calvin Klein Collection business plummeted after Klein's retirement as the company turned its attention toward the newly introduced Calvin Klein White Label moderate line for profits and growth. The Collection lines remained beloved by the press, and Costa was a recipient of the CFDA award. The runway collections gained some traction in recent seasons as the parent company increased support for the neglected lines. Zucchelli's menswear has been embraced by avant-garde retailers like Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market, and Costa's womenswear has found its way back into Bergdorf Goodman, but not all the way back to the prized, spacious in-store shop overlooking the Plaza  it commanded in its heyday through the 1990s. While Costa has had great success with red carpet dressing, he often dressed his stars in simpler gowns that recalled classic Calvin Klein styles like the sleek red tank gown Jennifer Lawrence wore at her first Oscar ceremony rather than his own more complex runway designs, causing a stylistic disconnect for the collection.
As for Simons, his success at the modernistic Jil Sander as well as his own influential men's label and balancing of ornate and minimalist looks at Dior make him a perfect choice to lead Calvin Klein —if it's true.
We will all have to wait a few months to find out for sure, but the prospect of a Simons led Calvin Klein is a promising idea for one of New York's greatest designer brands.

Francisco Costa, Italo Zucchelli to Exit Calvin Klein, Raf in Wings? (WWD)


Soulcycle, Reiss, Suno & More Hit The Sale Trail

It's a strong Sample Shopping week with with some old favorites making their usual appearances for dedicated fans. Here are the highlights:

You still have two more days to catch JOHN HARDY's sale at Soiffer Haskin which has announced reduced prices on all merchandise through Wednesday if you have been dawdling.

Starting today, fans of fine underpants can line up at HANRO of SWITZERLAND's showroom on Fifth Avenue to replenish their seasonal supply of innerwear as well as loungewear, sleepwear and other underpinnings through Wednesday.

Spinning devotées should be heading to 260SampleSale's SoHo outpost on Greene Street for SOULCYCLE's warehouse sale. Look for about 40% off workout wear for women and men suitable for any kind of exercise even if you aren't into spending hours riding a bicycle to nowhere. Shop through Saturday.

British contemporary chain REISS, which has been known to dress the Duchess of Cambridge as well as plenty of other more humble common folk, will be installed at 260 Fifth Avenue through the weekend offering a sizable 75% their men's and women's collections of clothing, shoes and accessories.

Tomorrow, fans of scented candles —and we know they are legion— can trek out to the vast Starrett Lehigh building in West Chelsea for a two-day NEST FRAGRANCES sale featuring discounts starting at 50% off their deluxe candles and other home fragrances.

Up and coming label SUNO has been off the sale schedule for a bit, but they are back on Wednesday in SoHo with savings on their women's designer apparel. Past sales have been noted for great bargains, so hopes are high for this return.

Yet another Duchess Kate fave, L.K. BENNETT is also opening its Madison Avenue showroom staring on Wednesday through next Tuesday offering savings on British designed apparel, handbags and the shoes that are known to cover those royal feet.

Keeping with the English theme, punk pioneer VIVIENNE WESTWOOD begins another of her much awaited samples sales on Thursday in the Garment district featuring, as expected, the full range of her offerings for men and women from apparel to shoes and accessories. Shop through Sunday the 24th.

Finally, for the guys, GILDED AGE will once again be offering great its great vintage inspired sportswear, shoes and accessories 60% to 80% off retail prices through Sunday in SoHo.

Keep an eye on our SALE ROLL sidebar for times and locations as well as late-breaking sales. Next week, look for Scoop's last-chance-warehouse sale, Bloch's ballet shoes and more.


Lanvin, Bottega Veneta, Robert Lee Morris, Baldwin Denim, Ohne Titel, Todd Snyder, Ray-Ban, Tracy Reese, Michael Bastian & More

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. Shop well!

Lanvin, Valentino, Zadig & Voltaire, Magaschoni, Lalique Jewelry, Alice & Trixie, Ike Behar, Field Scout, Zegna Neckwear, Ray-Ban, Temperley London, Ohne Titel, Velvet by Graham & Spencer, Alexandre Birman, Michael Bastian, Ben Sherman Footwear & Accessories, Diesel Black Gold, Todd Snyder, URBN, Dyson, Cuisinart  —join HERE
Asics, Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, Céline Sunglasses, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Bottega Veneta, Draper James, NYDJ, PAMELLA Pamella Roland, Splendid, TAG Heuer, Montblanc, KWIAT, Satva, RACHEL Rachel Roy, Devotion Vodka —join HERE
Rebecca Minkoff, Oakley, Island Company, Papi, Frye, Black Orchid, Ronny Kobo, Skagen Watches, Baldwin Denim, Pendleton, Vince Camuto Collection, Tracy Reese, Robert Lee Morris, Perricone MD, Kenneth Cole —join HERE
Proenza Schouler Handbags, Longchamp, Schutz, Ellen Tracy Shoes, John Varvatos Footwear, PRPS, Prada Accessories, Timberland Luggage, Salvatore Ferragamo, Diane von Furstenberg, Kenneth Cole, SK-II, Versace Jeans, Vivienne Westwood, Kiton Ties, Tom Ford Sunglasses, Melissa Shoes, ASH, Maui & Sons, Rick Owens, Jared Lang Socks —join HERE


Is Raf Simons Finally Launching His Own Women's Collection?

Image by Willy Vanderperre via WWD

Raf Simons' surprise exit from Christian Dior last year seemed to spark an unprecedented upheaval of Europe's luxury brands with designers leaving or being forced out of what seemed to be secure creative director positions. For Simons part, he was said to be leaving because he wanted to spend more time at home in Belgium and also wanted to focus on his own signature label, the one that brought him his initial fame and had continued uninterrupted even as the designer took on more high profile creative responsibilities first at Jil Sander and then Dior. What is curious about Simons' trajectory is that even as he established his bona fides as a premier women's designer at Sander and Dior, his own label has always been restricted to menswear —until now?
Pitti Uomo, the prestigious mens' trade show that begins its Spring 2017 edition in a couple of months in Florence, has announced that Simons will be given the coveted spotlight this season to present his Spring-Summer 2017 collection and well as a "Special Project". Though this is a men's show, its spotlight is often used as an opportunity to launch new projects including women's or other additional collections. Could that special project be the first official Raf Simons women's collection? It would seem to be the obvious next move for the designer. One of the rumored reasons for his departure from Dior —from a position that fashion watchers are still waiting to be filled— was a lack of autonomy over the highly compartmentalized brand. Though he was responsible for the marquee Haute Couture and Women's ready-to-wear and accessory collections, he had little to no authority over other aspects of the brand such as store design, cosmetics and the choice of celebrity spokesmodels. Most surprising was that instead of turning over Dior Homme to innovative men's designer Simons to create a more unified brand image, Dior decided instead to renew Dior Homme creative director Kris van Assche's contract. It's not that van Assche was failing, but it seemed curious to have one of menswear's most highly regarded designers under the Dior roof but to keep him restricted to women's collections.
Now that Simons has streamlined his professional life, it seems like the perfect time to fortify his own label's profile by finally entering the much larger and potentially more lucrative women's market under his own name with an eye on the female customers he has cultivated over the years at Sander and Dior. Is this the special project set for Pitti? So far no details have been released, and this is pure speculation on our part, but we can't be the only ones who are taking bets on when Raf Simons for women will inevitably be launched. The proverbial iron is still hot, so now would logically be the time to strike before it cools.


Raf Simons to Present at Pitti Uomo (WWD)


A Glimpse At The Last Remnant Of The Old Barneys In Chelsea

Anyone who remembers the original Barneys New York store in Chelsea knows that it was actually three buildings. There is the part of the old Men's store that was the "Traditional" side, became Loehmann's and is once again a Barneys store. There was the series of apartment buildings on 17th Street that became the Women's store and is now the Rubin Museum of Art, and then there was the building between them on the corner of 17th and Seventh Avenue which was housed the "International" side of the men's store. Most of that building has also been given over to the Rubin Museum, but, oddly, the street level was never incorporated. While the museum had always covered the windows of this section, recently they have been uncovered, revealing a dusty construction site. A closer look shows that since Barneys was forced to close the Chelsea store, this particular corner has never been turned over to something else. At least for a little while longer, you can see the old store's interior relatively left as it was when it was shuttered. Though it's hard to show in the photo through a dirty window, under the rubble you can see the original floor, shelves and the staircase to the upper floors. Why the sudden activity? The building at 113 Seventh Avenue as well as the rest of the Rubin Museum at 150 West 17th Street have been sold by the Museum and are now on the rental market. We might suggest that an excellent tenant for 113 Seventh Avenue on the corner might be . . .  Barney's?
While it might be premature to suggest an expansion of the four-level store that just opened barely two months ago, There are some glaring omissions in the new Barneys where the men's offerings of what was once the most comprehensive men's stores anywhere have been reduced to less than a single floor of designer collections and luxury sneakers. The corner building would give Barneys enough room to add the missing home department as well as flesh out the store's incomplete menswear offerings on the upper floors.
We aren't holding our breath that this is somehow secretly in the works, but shouldn't it be?
Stranger things have been known to happen.