Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring Shopping Guide: Bright Colors
One of my coworkers remarked recently that my fall/winter wardrobe consists almost entirely of gray and black. Which is true. (Hey, darker colors hide the dirt better.) My spring/summer wardrobe tends to be primarily white and beige, but I do like to add some color here and there. For those of you who are not so neutral, however, you're in luck: This year, it's all about super-bright, verging-on-neon colors.

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To me, the easiest way to add a pop of color is with a bright tank top peeking out of a cardigan or lightweight jacket. Thakoon's silk parachute top is conservative enough for the office, but chic enough to wear out for drinks afterward.


The Jenna top from Chris Benz is also work friendly (if you work in a more creative environment), but in a more fashion-forward way. The chiffon also helps to lighten the intensity of the color, which is great for those of us who are color-averse.


I think a trenchcoat, like this one from Versace, is a great way to add color to your look, especially on rainy days like we've been having recently. (And, hey, it's on sale too!)


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Another great piece for layering, the Sophia cami from Myne is 100% silk and has a flowy shape, so you'll stay nice and cool in the summer heat.


I used to hate the color yellow, but all of a sudden, it looks fresh to me. This cropped jacket is definitely bright, but the tone is cool enough that it will work with a number of skin tones. I also love that you can throw it on over pretty much anything.


Then again, blue is a color that looks good on pretty much everyone, so this Alexander Wang hologram dress should work for pretty much everyone. And since it's a dress, no tricky color-coordinating or layering required!


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The trick with wearing bright color is not to look too '80s--let me tell you, I wore a ton of neon in my youth, and I am probably permanently scarred from it. This tunic from Forever 21 is a bit '80s, but it's more punk than aerobics, so I think you can get away with it.


Call me crazy, but I totally love this chartreuse anorak from Nine West. I feel like this would be the perfect jacket to wear on vacation--your traveling companions would never lose track of you! (Of course, now I am reminded of when I went to France as an adolescent and they made our group wear red windbreakers everywhere. We were mortified.)


If you like that idea but don't think you can quite handle a coat, then J.Crew's featherweight cotton top is a nice compromise. The ruffle trim helps to soften it a little, and the weight of the cotton ensures the color isn't so intense.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The week in shopping
Cashmere sweaters from Cheryl Shops fave Inhabit are up to 80% off. 4/30-5/1; 10-6:30; 1441 Broadway (40th & 41st Sts.), 24th fl.

Clothingline has Chaiken's spring stock on sale: Blouses are $80, dresses are $125, and pants are $100. 4/29-5/1; 10-7, 10-6 Wed.; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Candles are $20, dresses are $85, and tops are $40 at Tocca's sale--well worth the trek to West Chelsea. 4/30-5/2; 11-7; 542 W. 22nd St. (10th & 11th Aves.), 3rd fl.

Fight off Euro shoppers at Dolce & Gabbana's sale; resort and summer looks are up to 70% off (D&G too!). 5/2-5/4; 9-6 Fri., 10-6 Sat., 11-5 Sun.; 85 Spring St. (at Crosby).

Then fight them off again at Miss Sixty, Sixty, and Energie; clothes and accessories for men, women, and children are 60%-75% off. Through 5/4; 10-7, 10-6 Sat. & Sun.; 260 5th Ave. (28th & 29th Sts.).

Hanro's super-soft cotton underpinnings for both sexes are up to 75% off. Cash and checks only. 4/29-4/30; 8-6 Tue., 8:30-4:30 Wed.; 40 E. 34th St. (at Madison Ave.), ste. 207.

Hit the sale online now or wait till Friday: Satya's yoga-inspired jewelry is up to 80% off. 5/2-5/4; 10-6; 95 Christopher St. (at Bleecker St.).

Sheets, duvets, pillow shams, towels, and baby linens are 60%-80% at DwellStudio. Through 5/4; 11-7; 76 Greene St. (Spring & Broome Sts.).

Prairie New York has girly tops, tunics, and dresses at wholesale-and-below prices. Cash only. 4/29-5/2; 11-7; 250 W. 39th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 406.

White + Warren's cashmere cardigans are $90; tees and dresses are $60. 4/30-5/1; 8-6 Wed., 8-4 Thurs.; 80 W. 40th St. (at 6th Ave.).

Chic spring dresses by Olga Kapustina are up to 70% off. 4/30-5/2; 9-8, 9-7 Fri.; 161 W. 22nd St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 3rd fl.

Spend your Saturday in Queens: Lamps, furniture, and household accessories are 40%-90% off at Gracious Home's warehouse sale. 5/3; 9-4:30; 30-30 60th St. (near 31st Ave.), Woodside, Queens.

Just in time for spring...cashmere! Blankets, sweaters, and accessories are 60% off at Armand Diradourian. Cash only. 5/1-5/9; noon-6 (closed Sun.); 19 W. 21st St. (5th & 6th Avs.).

Iridesse pearls, plus jewelry from Anthony Nak, Gabrielle Sanchez, and Christian Tse, are 50%-60% off (now $100-$4,500). Through 4/30; 9-7 Tue., 9-6 Wed.; The Warwick Hotel, 65 W. 54th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), Oxford suite.

Hickey Freeman & Bobby Jones clothing and accessories for men are up to 75% off. Credit cards only. Through 5/1; 9-6:30, 9-5 Thurs.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Silver and gold jewelry from Slane & Slane is up to 60% off. 4/30-5/1; 10-6; 48 W. 25th St. (5th & Broadway).

Save 20% on your order at shopjake.com when you enter code may112008 at checkout through 5/1.

Last but not least, buy a new pair of Louboutins at Barneys and get them autographed by Christian Louboutin himself. 5/1; 3-7 p.m.; Madison & 61st St., 4th fl.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Shopping Guide: Maxi dresses
I have been searching for the perfect maxi dress for what seems like years. It has to have a great print (which might be part of my problem--as I said the other day, I have trouble with prints) and a comfortable fit, but it has to be fitted enough to not make me look like a house. Granted, I'm a bit taller than average and thus can pull off the length, but so can Nicole Richie, and she's only like 5-foot-2. Anyway, after so many summers of slim pickings, this year maxi dresses are everywhere. Of course, now there are almost too many options.

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This Missoni dress is strapless, so you can't really get away with wearing it to work (unless you layer a tee or tank top underneath). Then again, if you can afford to spend nearly four grand on a dress, you probably aren't going to be too concerned about where you're going to wear it.


If a floor-length Missoni print isn't decadent enough for you, there's always Pucci. Again, not really a daytime look (although this one does have straps), but could work for everything from neighborhood brunch to a yacht in St. Tropez.


I really like this Temperley dress because the ivory-and-white color scheme keeps things simple, even though the print is large scale. The shape is incredibly easygoing and laid-back, which is what I really love.


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TIBI always has great prints, and this Papillon halter dress is no exception--it's really an abstract, enlarged butterfly motif. It's also 100% silk, which makes it incredibly luxe.


Diane von Furstenberg also makes amazing prints, and those in her spring collection were exceptionally great. This dress manages to combine a groovy wallpaper print with a slim but still loose silhouette, and it's versatile enough to work for day or night.


I saw this dress, also by DVF, on a pregnant woman at Morandi, which is just testament to how it works for all kinds of body types--it's her signature wrap dress, lengthened by a few inches and rendered in a gorgeous printed chiffon. (And, by the way, it's almost sold out here, but I saw a bunch of them last week at Bloomingdale's in Soho.)


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Roxy can always be counted on for breezy, California-girl tropical prints. The Moorea dress has a batik print that's a little bit Hawaii, and a little bit Morocco, but very bohemian all around. I like that the simple shape isn't overwhelmed by the mix of prints.


Orange is not for everyone, but this Jaclyn dress from Delia's has a feminine cut, and I like the tropical feel of the print.


Luckily, one of my favorite dresses is also the least expensive: this Mossimo dress from Target. The print is adorable, the fit is great, and the price--$22.99--can't be beat.
Breaking news: Mayle sale!
So, there's a Mayle sample sale today and tomorrow, and sorry for not having told you sooner, but I myself just found out about it this morning. Merch is more expensive and less plentiful than last summer's bonanza, but there were still some finds (although, small sizes be warned, it was a lot of 8's and 6's by the time I got there). Dresses were mostly $175, sweaters were $75-$90, there were a lot of pants (which everyone was ignoring), and bags were $150. I managed to snag a BB bag; by the time I left, the only kind that was left was the Gilberte. The sale runs until 7 today, then 10-7 tomorrow, but I will be amazed if there's anything left by the end of the day today. 263 W. 38th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 16th floor.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring Shopping Guide: Floral Prints
I will admit, I have trouble with prints. I love stripes, I can handle plaid, but beyond that, I get a little shaky. One of my coworkers likes to say "Prints are personal," which is true--you either love a print or hate it. So, thanks to Balenciaga's highly influential Spring 2008 runway show, we have an array of floral prints to choose from this season. The good news is that if in the past, you've found floral prints too proper and fussy, there are a ton of brightly colored, abstract, adventurous new designs to choose from. The bad news? With so many great prints out there, you might have trouble making a decision.

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Thakoon's particular talent is that he manages to combine whimsical, feminine elements with architectural, technically intriguing designs. This dress has a sweet floral print, but the asymmetrical seams give it a cool draped look that's anything but grandma-like.


His underwear-as-outerwear dresses got all the attention on the runway, but for spring, Marc Jacobs also sent out some crazy (but in a good way) floral prints in technicolor colors. This poppy-print blouse is almost conservative, but the shocking hues keep things interesting.


Stella McCartney also has some great floral prints. My grandma (who was a very stylish lady, and an artist at that) would have loved this blouse--its soft lines remind me of French impressionist paintings.


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I swear by her swimsuits, but Shoshanna makes great-fitting dresses too. This belted dress is so well tailored (and equipped with a well-designed understructure) that it could almost pass for Oscar de la Renta. The print is not what I'd normally go for, but for some reason, I find the colors and Marimekko-inspired print refreshing.


This Lacey Parker dress is so light and airy, it almost begs for some toughening-up. I'd wear it belted over skinny jeans, or layered over a long-sleeved tee and with some clunky riding boots.


The one floral-print dress I do own happens to be made by Anna Sui, and for good reason--Sui designs her own totally unique prints, which she vigorously protects. This one is pretty feminine, but it's balanced out by the simplicity of the cut.


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I like the idea of a floral top, especially one that can be tucked into high-waisted pants, because it's enough to convey the trend without totally overwhelming your body. This top from Anthropologie is a strong contender.


I like this swing tank from Alloy because the pattern is definitely more 1970s than 1950s. The colors are very summery too, and the shape is easygoing.


Then again, you can't go wrong with a classic, like this retro Kerry Dress from Delia's--the floral-print sundress is indisputably a summer staple.
Spring Shopping Guide: Metallic Gladiator Sandals
Every summer, there's one piece that everyone has. Remember the peasant skirt from several years ago? This year, I think gladiator sandals are going to be that one ubiquitous piece. But that's okay, because they're pretty awesome. Yes, gladiators fit in with the whole well-traveled bohemian aesthetic, but in their own way, they can work with a number of styles. There are countless variations on the theme (wedges, platforms, etc.), but I decided to stick with the flat kind, as they look less fashion-victim and more classic. I also like metallics, as they look more current than plain old neutrals.

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I think gladiator sandals look particularly fresh in a metallic--the styling of these Giuseppe Zanotti sandals is pretty basic, but the rose-gold shade makes them look all the more glamorous.


Likewise, the gold tone of these Stella McCartney sandals makes them look fancy, but the braided design looks a little more low key--it's a gladiator sandal without all the fussy buckles and hardware.


One of my absolute favorites, however, is this gorgeous Yves Saint Laurent shoe. It's a streamlined, modernized version of the gladiator, and the shape of it almost reminds me of a Brancusi sculpture. Expect to see these on well-heeled women everywhere.


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This Modern Vintage gladiator sandal takes the look a step further with a metallic snakeskin finish to the leather. It's a more fashiony version of the trend, perfect for edgy downtown girls.


A similar shape but a more subtle design, Matt Bernson's gold gladiator sandals are well-made and iconic--you can't go wrong with these.


Miu Miu's metallic gladiator sandals are more goddess than gladiator, but their lace-up styling is a nice feminine alternative to all those straps and buckles. Also, I am shocked to find a pair of Miu Miu shoes for under $500!


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The overwhelming majority of these sandals tend to be gold, so here's a silver pair from Unisa. They're nothing totally out of the ordinary, but if you're afraid gladiator sandals are going to be a short-lived fad, their price isn't so hard on the wallet.


Nine West has lately been knocking off everyone from Gucci to Prada, and while I can't quite put my finger on the originator of these two-tone Jobilyn sandals, they get points for fashion at a price nonetheless.


Dolce Vita's Carnival sandal is one of my favorite of the bunch. It has the streamlined look of the YSL sandal without the three-figure price tag, and the fact that the vertical strap extends past the ankle will have a lengthening effect on your legs. Which is never a bad thing, if you ask me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The week in shopping
Random location, delightfully Eurotrashy stock: IT Holding showroom has Galliano, Just Cavalli, and CNC Costume National for up to 80% off. Through 4/27; 11-7, noon-5 Sun.; 17 Battery Place S. (Washington & West Sts.), 5th fl.

Calling all shoe addicts: Clothingline is hosting the Plaza Too sale; footwear from Marc by Marc Jacobs, Cynthia Rowley, and other coveted brands is $50 or 2 for $80. Yowza. 4/22-4/24; 10-7 Tue. & Thurs., 10-6 Wed.; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Hit Mandarina Duck's first-ever sample sale for sleek Italian handbags and travel bags for 60%-70% off retail. Cash only. Through 4/25; 10-6; 38 W. 21st St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 7th fl.

Treat yourself to a new pair of jeans at The Warehouse Sale--the "world's largest denim sample sale"--featuring 30,000 pieces from J Brand, True Religion, and all your favorites. RSVP at thewarehousesale.com or pay $5 admission at the door. 4/24-4/26; 11-8 Thurs., 11-9 Fri., 11-8 Sat.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 4th fl.

While you're in the hood, check out the Manhattan Vintage Show, featuring 75 of the country's top vintage dealers. Admission is $20; knock $5 off when you RSVP online at manhattanvintage.com. 4/25-4/26; 1-8 Fri., 11-6 Sat.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

And last but not least for that block is the Billion Dollar Babes sale, with up to 80% off TIBI, Brian Reyes, Iisli, and other contemporary designers. Friday is VIP day; Saturday is open to the public (although you must RSVP at Billiondollarbabes.com. 4/25-4/26; noon-9 Fri., 9-5 Sat.; Altman Building, 135 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Nicole Farhi for men, women, and the home is up to 80% off. Through 4/25; 10-7; Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave. (15th & 16th Sts.), floor 3R, suite E.

Avez-vous un enfant? Allez-y à Les Petits Chapelais pour vêtements par Appaman, Petit Bateau, et Anne Kurris moins 60-80%. Got that? Bon. Through 4/30; 11-7, 1-6 Sun., noon-7 Mon.; 86 Thompson St. (at Spring St.).

Fancy stationery purveyor Dempsey & Carroll has note sheets (with matching envelopes) on sale for $195 (normally $305) for a box of 100. Through 4/30; 9-6 weekdays only; 136 E. 57th St. (Park & Lex), 4th fl.

Silver and gold jewelry from celeb fave Tracy Matthews Designs is 50%-80% off retail. 4/24-4/26; 4-9 Thurs., 11-7 Fri., 10-4 Sat.; 264 Canal St. (Lafayette & Broadway), loft 6E.

Starting tomorrow, take an extra 20% off sale items at Cheryl Shops fave ShopJake.com; enter code 48HOUR20 at checkout. Offer expires Thursday at midnight.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Shopping Guide: Ikat
Every few summers, the bohemian look comes back, although if you ask me, every summer should be a summer of love. Thankfully, this year there are a lot of great hippie-chic options out there, and one of my favorites is ikat print. Ikat is a type of weaving technique; the threads are kind of tie-dyed before being woven, and this produces a groovy pattern. Many cultures, from Guatemala to Uzbekistan, use the fabric in their traditional garb, and thus it fits in nicely with the whole ethnic bohemian look. And since we don't all have the time or resources to jet to far-off lands in search of authentic ikat pieces, here are some of my favorites from far more accessible places.

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Derek Lam takes some heat from critics for completely changing his point of view and silhouette every season, but he makes clothes that cool young women want to wear, and that's enough to make him one of my favorites. His ikat blouse has a boxy yet flattering shape, and the pullover style is modern.


Everyone loves Oscar de la Renta for a number of reasons; I love him because he can take any inspiration in the world and turn it into something totally appropriate for his customer. When you think of his ladies-who-lunch clientele, you don't think hippie prints, but yet this shift dress looks very Upper East Side. Genius!


Jenni Kayne dresses young Hollywood starlets, and the fact that this dress has a trendy yellow-and-gray color scheme demonstrates this. Still, I think it's a polished look that doesn't veer into the hippie-dippy.


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You know ikat is a big trend when even Carmen Marc Valvo gets in on the trend. This dress will appeal to a wide range of people, with its colorful design and its nearly-universally-flattering cut. This dress would be great for a daytime wedding.


This is my idea of summer: a long, flowy maxi-dress with an exotic print. Slipping into it would make you feel like you should be in a chic poolside bar in Miami, with a mojito in your hand. And shouldn't that be how you always feel?


This Hera dress is great because while it still has an ikat pattern, it's a more subtle one--in other words, it's a more mellow way to wear it.


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Sometimes the best way to try a trend is with an accessory. This ikat scarf is colorful enough to brighten up any outfit, but it's still subtle enough for the pattern-averse.


On the other hand, this Urban Outfitters cami is all hippie. But it's still cool, so to balance it out, I'd wear it with something more punk-rock, like skinny jeans and aviators.


Even with the crapola exchange rate, this Topshop skirt is still only $50. Which is worth it to me, because this was the only ikat skirt I could find, and that makes this a unique choice. I also love the zigzag pattern--it's simple and clean, and I think it would look really cool paired with a patterned top.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coming Thursday...
...the Cheryl Shops Spring Shopping Guide!
Buy it: American Apparel raglan tee

I first fell in love with this tee when I saw Mary-Kate Olsen wearing it (at right). I figured that due to its lightweight, drapey look, it was probably from her high-end T-Shirt line The Row, and while I do appreciate a good tee, I refuse to pay three figures for one. However, I then saw photos of Rachel Bilson and Miley Cyrus in the same one, which made me think that maybe it wasn't from The Row. Then, lo and behold, a girl sitting at a table next to mine at dinner last weekend was wearing the exact same top. And before I had a chance to ask her where she got it, her dining companion beat me to it. By some act of god, the tee is not a hoity-toity designer one, but a readily available, easily accessible one: the tri-blend raglan pullover from American Apparel. So of course I went out and bought it right away. A super-soft blend of polyester, rayon, and cotton, it has that perfectly broken in, almost-vintage look to it, and the weight is great for layering in transitional temperatures such as these. I recommend sizing up for an extra-comfy, looser fit (the lightness of the jersey ensures that you don't look bulky in it). The best part? It's $34. I bought the gray color, and I love it so much, I'm contemplating the indigo color as well. I know people have strong opinions about American Apparel, but the only opinion I have at the moment is that they make awesome T-shirts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gap design editions tomorrow!
Gap's designer collaborations--with 3.1 Phillip Lim, ThreeAsFour, Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian, and Philip Crangi--hit stores and Gap.com tomorrow. I unfortunately have a meeting first thing tomorrow morning, but I will hit the Times Square Gap store on my lunch hour and report back ASAP! In the meantime, Racked reports that Nylon has a mini-preview, featuring the designs modeled by "real women" (a.k.a. Nylon staffers). I call dibs on the pintucked Michael Bastian shirt...

UPDATE: I went to the Gap on my lunch hour, and judging by how ransacked the store was, I probably should've gone earlier. Oh well. Smaller sizes were gone in almost everything but the Michael Bastian shirt, strangely enough. Of course, that was my favorite one (as I had predicted), and since they were out of mediums, I will have to order online. I didn't even see the Band of Outsiders shirt or the Philip Crangi jewelry. The ThreeAsFour stuff was pretty good and fit the best of everything (in other words, it was not huge and shapeless). And while I love me some 3.1 Phillip Lim, his shirts were my least favorite--they just seemed a bit boring to me. Also, it should be noted that everything is see-through. Um, and $78 (the AsFour dress and Band of Outsiders top are $88). I'm probably going to order the Michael Bastian shirt--Gap.com still has everything in stock, except the AsFour camisole, for some reason--but only because I have a coupon. Has anyone else checked it out?
The week in shopping
Stylish clothing on the Upper West Side? Apparently so! At the Boc warehouse sale, find Vivienne Westwood, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and more for up to 70% off. 4/17-4/19; noon-8; 491 Columbus Ave. (83rd & 84th Sts.).

Cheryl Shops fave Auto is having its spring yard sale with up to 50% off clothing, accessories, and home items from John Robshaw, Etro, Marimekko, Missoni, and more. 4/17-4/20; 11-7 Thurs. & Fri., noon-7 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 803-805 Washington St. (Gansevoort & Horatio Sts.).

If you're in the market for luxury fabrics, hit Brunschwig & Fils for silks, damasks, toiles, and more fancy stuff for up to 70% off. MW and I need new living-room curtains, so I will be making an appearance. Credit cards only. 4/15-4/19; 1-6:30 Tue., 9-6:30 Wed.-Fri., 9-5 Sat.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 110 W. 19th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Clothingline has Hickey, the younger, trendier version of Hickey Freeman, for up to 75% off. Through 4/17; 10-6 Wed., 10-7 Tue. & Thurs.; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Sales for (eco)mpassion
is now open 7 days a week; their latest shipment includes Joe's Jeans, Havaianas, Primp, and more, for 50% off. Noon-8 daily; 2 Great Jones St. (Broadway & Lafayette).

Take $50 off any order of $300 or more at IntermixOnline when you enter code INTERMIXSPRING50 at checkout through 5/10.

At shopbop.com, take $25 off a $150 order, $50 off a $250 order, $100 off a $500 order, or $150 off a $750 order when you enter promo code TAXBREAK08 through 4/17.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Buy it: Un Jardin en Méditerinée
In the winter, I tend to stick with heavier floral-oriental scents like Chopard Casmir, but once spring comes around, I want something lighter, greener, even fruitier. For this reason, fig-based scents tend to appeal to me, but I've had a hard time finding the right one. Creed's Millesime Imperial is one of my favorite fragrances in the world, however it lasts an hour on my skin--two if I'm lucky. Acqua di Parma's Fico di Amalfi is also lovely, but its lasting power is even shorter (the candle, on the other hand, is divine). I was told by many people to try Premier Figuier from L'Artisan Parfumeur, and while it did last, it was a bit too figgy for me. Luckily, just in time for the beautiful spring weather today, I tried Un Jardin en Méditerinée, a gorgeously blended perfume created for Hermès by their in-house parfumeur, the incredibly talented Jean Claude Ellena. Meant to evoke a stroll through a Mediterranean garden, it blends orange blossom, bergamot, white oleander, and cedar with, yes, fig. It is gorgeous and sophisticated, and if you close your eyes, you can almost picture yourself sipping a citron pressé in an outdoor café somewhere along la Côte d'Azur. So, naturally, I'm going to buy a bottle--but not from the Hermès store, where it's $125--a quick search turned up a bottle for $60 at FragranceNet. Next on my list? The equally wonderful follow-up, Un Jardin sur le Nil. But since that one is a fruity, grapefruit-and-mango blend, it will have to wait until summer.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Banana Republic's Monogram: What recession?
While the government hasn't acknowledged it yet, I'd say we're in a recession. Retail is usually one of the first industries to get hit, and I don't know if you've noticed or not, but a lot of stores and websites are resorting to 20% coupons and other promotions in order to keep business up. I was even browsing the Barneys Co-Op website the other day and was surprised by the number of items under $100. But while many stores are anticipating much belt-tightening on the part of consumers, Banana Republic is betting that its customers will spend more. Say what?

Enter Monogram Collection, Banana's new limited-edition line, with prices 30%-40% higher than normal. (Apparently it's working for Ann Taylor and J.Crew.) Yes, the fabrics are nicer and the tailoring sharper, but would you really pay that much more for what's basically souped-up Banana Republic clothing? I wouldn't, but then again, I'm probably not the ideal Banana customer--I find BR a bit too conservative for my taste. Granted, the Monogram clothes do look a bit more chic--I like the slouchy pants, and Tory Burch fans should go for this chain link dress.

But if, recession be damned, you want to check everything out in person, lucky for you that BR has transformed its Bleecker Street store into a Monogram emporium. This article from yesterday's WWD [subscription required] has all the details, from the exact shade of gray paint used on the walls to the fact that salespeople are called "stylists." (You can't see me, but I'm rolling my eyes right now.) I haven't been there yet, but in spite of all the faux-upscale posturing, I'll bet Monogram is what it is--which is just a more expensive Banana Republic.