On the Town
by Rebecca Prusinowski, Paper magazine contributor , 11/06/2009
A Little Wicked
279 E. Houston St., 212-777-1190, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Ten years ago, sisters Robyn and Bianca Moreno moved to the Lower East Side to launch their fashion careers. Now—with several books, high-profile styling gigs, TV appearances and an accessories line between them—the girls have returned to their old stomping ground and opened their first store. A Little Wicked carries a selection of vintage, re-worked and designer label womenswear.
So what makes this newcomer stand out in a neighborhood sprinkled with second-hand stores? For one, no attitude! Robyn, who runs A Little Wicked, is an effervescent style guru, bubbling with ideas and fashion tips for all body types. Tell her what you're seeking and watch her pull it together. (She genuinely enjoys helping.) Secondly, this assortment is everything you want and nothing you don't. Sometimes so-called vintage stores feel a little like Good Will—with 10,000 busted pieces for every good one you find. A Little Wicked, however, is carefully-curated, with chic, flirty separates that are totally wearable. The Morenos embarked on a road trip this year, collecting quality vintage clothing from New York to Savannah, and then modified much of it for a superior look and fit—a ruffle here, a shorter hemline there. Finally, where many vintage parlors veer toward kitschy or too cutesy, A Little Wicked is...well...a little wicked! The style is sophisticated, but with a dash of edgy humor.
Rag & Bone
119 Mercer St., 212-219-2204, SoHo, Manhattan
Rag & Bone's new SoHo location is the brand's third retail venture here in Manhattan, though arguably their most significant. When designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville were getting Rag & Bone off the ground, they operated the company out of Denise Williamson's showroom upstairs. Now this address houses their international flagship.
It's not hard to see how this label has gathered so much momentum in just a few years. Lining the racks are Rag & Bone's signature black, navy, and gray separates that exude cool and understated chic style. This brand is the bedrock for a perfect downtown wardrobe—their collections are hip, of course, but they're also totally wearable. The jackets, dresses, knits, denim, etc. can be layered and accessorized season after season, and they're made with high quality fabrics by old-school manufacturers. Rag & Bone added to their repertoire of tailored outerwear with some killer fall designs—"we die" for the women's Charcoal Box-Tweed Napolean Coat and pretty much all of the men's leathers, coats and blazers. The Blue Printed Silk Hellcat Dress and the unexpected dashes of red also stood out among the clothing selection.
At 2,200-square-feet, the store clearly has a more expansive look than the label's cozy West Village men's and women's shops. Nevertheless, it retains the Rag & Bone charm with appointed touches like dressing rooms made of cloth hung from old meat racks, vintage and antique furniture, and rotating art work.
75 Orchard St., 212-334-6241, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Menswear designer Kai D. has opened a pop-up shop to showcase his label's utilitarian look. Inspired by vintage workwear, hunting and military garb, Kai D. offers a full line of men's clothing that focuses on function and fit. We're talking shirts with thicker threads and triple-needle stitching at the side seams. Sturdy felt and suspender pants. A reinforced iPod pocket at the hip of a shirt that tunnels the cord and earbuds up to the chest. Details.
The brand's "built to last" commitment to craftsmanship doesn't mean these duds don't have style. The Kai D. wovens, knits, tees, bottoms, vests and jackets evoke an easy, timeless cool that we love. The pants have a clean cut (not too tight or trendy) and the jackets are chic yet totally versatile. The Varick coat featuring moleskin fabric, a shawl collar and plaid lining is a fave—and one of the store's most popular sellers. At $525, you might call it an "investment piece" for your winter wardrobe.
Beyond the Kai D. men's collection currently selling, there are a handful of curated vintage pieces, including wool hats, Western belts and some rugged leather jackets. There's also a special "Build the Future" line of quirky vintage-inspired tees, bags and stationery. Twenty percent of their sales are donated directly to local children's charities.
The Kai D. pop-up occupies a small space on Orchard Street. It's outfitted with antiques and industrial display fixtures picked up at Brimfield and local flea markets, reinforcing the brand's utilitarian vibe. Scheduled to run through the end of November, we hope this solid addition to the LES hangs around much longer.
681 Fifth Ave., 212-223-1824, Midtown East, Manhattan
The Tommy Hilfiger brand has some tony new digs on Fifth Avenue. Occupying a grand retail space once belonging to Fortunoff, the recently-opened store is the company's largest worldwide and serves as their new global flagship. Unlike many of the other big name flagships in the area, however, Tommy Hilfiger lacks that austere and intimidating vibe that sends many a visitor scurrying. What you'll discover instead is a warm, beautifully-curated manse that reflects the heart of the American chic label. Yes, that means a fair bit of red, white and blue, but also one-of-a-kind vintage décor, iconic furniture pieces, luxurious fixtures and world-class art installations.
The first and second floors house the men's sportswear and collection pieces, respectively. It's a robust selection of the designer's classic styles, with lots of thick plaid, stripes and his signature red, white and navy palette (with punches of eye-popping color). The store carries a full array of women's sportswear and runway pieces on floors three and four, including fashion and accessories exclusive to the location. We don't rock the preppy chic look very often but were wowed by the sweaters, knits, outerwear and especially the shoes. Look at those adorable pair of hot pink buckle flats above—talk about a throwback! Even more impressive were the dazzling collection pieces and pink separates on floor four. Many of these items are part of the Tommy Hilfiger Fifth Avenue Pink Collection, with 30 percent of their sales in October benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
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