February '06
Hint pays attention to retail

Fusion restaurants abound in New York, but a fusion retail store is a novelty even for the jaded city. Nave, SoHo's latest shopping destination, manages to be a flagship, design collective and concept boutique (not to mention a mini-United Nations) all at once. As conceived by Japanese fashion giant Onward Kashiyama, the 1800-square-foot space presents a women's collection designed by creative director Richard Chai in collaboration with a revolving batch of emerging designers each season—all under the navesake label. For its spring debut, New York designer Borne and Milanese labels Rohka and add chipped in. (In Japan, the line also includes contributions by Australia's Lincoln Mayne and L.A.'s Industry Rag.) The result includes feminine yet street-y dresses, blazers, T-shirts, handbags and outerwear at prices that wouldn't even buy you a keychain at most stores nearby. We'll take this lucky fusion over mole somosas anytime. Nave, 159 Mercer Street, 212-274-1255. -Suleman Anaya
Art is, once again, fashion's newest muse. And why not? After all, art does belong on a pedestal. Pushing the trend this time is Stella McCartney who, for her spring collection, asked the quintessential postmodern American artist Jeff Koons to miniaturize his large-scale stainless steel Rabbit sculpture from 1986 into pendants and charm bracelets. Of course, the iconoclastic Koons, who sat grinning in the front row, isn't the kind to fuss over the appropriation of his work (or is it a collaboration?); he practically invented the notion. But while only twenty of the white-gold bunny baubles will be made, also making appearances on the runway were long silk chiffon dresses printed with later works, including his Stream, Pink Bows, Lips paintings. Thus, plumed heads of exotic birds, dreamy orange horizons, bright smears of pink, and red succulent lips sashayed down the runway like canvasses in motion. Borrowing never looked better, and we're sure we could connect more dots—like, what's the connection to another of Koon's sculptures, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, and the famous rift between Jackson and Paul McCartney over the Beatles catalog?—but we're dizzy already. Indulge in your own McCartney appropriation at stores worldwide.

There's nothing ordinary about Common Projects, a new collaboration between artists and designers founded by Prathan Poopat (former art director for Visionaire and V) and Flavio Girolami, despite their mission to the contrary. Take, for example, their minimalist sneakers in solid white, gray, black and army green. "They're anonymous and utilitarian in design," says Poopat. "The idea is to go back to the basics, to make something stripped down but well-made—the perfect sneaker. This, in fact, is hard to find." Made in Italy from the finest materials, the focus is on merging practicality and luxury. Naturally, you won't find any branding on the outside save for the article number and shoe size—factory-stamped in gold on the heel. Embrace your inner commoner. Around $265 at Nom De Guerre in New York and South Willard in Los Angeles.
After diving into more collaborations in recent memory than we can count, Comme des Gar�ons' Rei Kawakubo has come up with perhaps her splashiest to date: a spring mini-collection of swimwear with Speedo. Consisting of seven women's and five men's styles ($80-120), as well as caps, goggles and T-shirts ($15-30), Speedo by Comme des Gar�ons merges the bold design of the Japanese label with the sport brand's technical expertise. "I chose Speedo because of their tradition and authenticity," says Kawakubo, "and because they simply make the best swimwear. The collection is for all those who love creative design—and swimming!" Jump in at Comme des Gar�ons stores worldwide and select Speedo outlets.

One of the most anticipated events of Couture Week in late January was not an epic runway show, but the opening of Marc Jacobs's first store on European soil. Despite the low-key launch party in the historic Palais Royale in Paris, news spread fast and the limited-edition souvenir T-shirts sold out within days. Of course there's still plenty of merch to be had, with the store offering Jacobs's main collections for women and men, plus shoes, bags, eyewear, jewelry and fragrance—even Paris's pampered pooches can get their props with the Bark Jacobs line for dogs. The luxurious space—created by architect Stephan Jaklitch and designer Christian Liaigre—sets pale, rounded wood and glass cabinets against a brown marble floor, punctuated with chocolate leather benches. A team of Jacobs's top New York staff has been dispatched to Paris to help set up boutiques in other parts of the Old World, with Moscow and London slated to open later this year. Marc Jacobs, Palais Royale, 34 Rue Montpensier, 75001. -Stephen Morriss


Katie Grand, who already styles top runway shows and produces her biannual fashion magazine, Pop, has somehow found the time to curate her own boutique in Selfridges. Open only three weeks beginning March 9, Pop's Shop will offer exclusive products from the likes of Miu Miu (above), Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaia, Giles Deacon and Lanvin. Cupcakes "designed" by Andrew Davies (editor of Pop and fashion director of Arena) will also be available, to keep your energy up—as if Grand didn't have enough on her plate...In still more pop-up shop news, Parisians fed up with facing the Eurostar trip to London just to buy into the Topshop fashion phenomenon can pipe down. The High Street chain has launched a capsule collection at colette in Paris just in time for Fashion Week. Keep an eye out for more cross-Channel collaborations between colette and London's Dover Street Market...Threeasfour's skintight Black Label denim has just arrived to all Barneys locations (Madison Avenue flagship as well as the Coops in Manhattan, plus Boston and Los Angeles). We think the suits are especially ace...Named after the month and year in which its founder was born, French label April 77's denim line takes its style cues from all things rock-and-roll. Jeans and shirts come with nifty little pockets containing essential accoutrements such as guitar picks and skinny combs. At Noir Kennedy in Paris (22 rue du roi de Sicile, 75004) and Dover Street Market in London...In vintage news, Morgan Yakus and Karin Bereson have opened No. 6 in Little Italy (6 Centre Market Place, 212-226-5759), where constantly-changing stock will delight lovers of the previously loved...Steidl, the art/photography/fashion book publishers responsible for Karl Lagerfeld and Hedi Slimane's recent tomes, has put up its dedicated Steidlville retail digs in London at 36 Lamb's Conduit Street, WC1.

After several years on Conduit Street as one of London's premier locations for edgy, hard-to-find labels, b Store relocated during London Fashion Week earlier this month to new premises at 24a Savile Row—smack in the middle of the traditional tailoring district. The eclectic space has been cobbled together by a number of artists and designers, featuring patterned fitting-room curtains by Peter Jensen, retooled vintage lighting by Committee and fabric-covered tables by Christine Bec. The store continues to stock the biggest names in alternative fashion including Bernhard Willhelm, Eley Kishimoto and Stephan Schneider, alongside up-and-comers such as Ute Ploier, Siv Stoldal and Sebastian Lundin. The opening featured an installation by �ber-stylist Judy Blame to launch his exclusive reworking of the classic Fred Perry polo shirt. With innovative shoe e-tailer oki-ni next door, the new-and-improved b Store is helping make this end of Savile Row a micro-destination for London's thrill-seeking fashion fans. -Stephen Morriss