February '09
We pay attention to retail
By Franklin Melendez
Yves Saint Laurent, Edition Unisex, Stefano Pilati
Come spring, Yves Saint Laurent adds new twist to gender-bending with the launch of its Edition Unisex line. Inspired by its own spring '09 men's collection, the capsule range taps into Monsieur Saint Laurent’s experiments in blurring the gender divide. A far cry from J. Edgar Hoover in garters, thankfully, Unisex translates the androgynous cool of Le Smoking for daytime, rendering classic men’s tailoring in washed silk, crêpe de chine and other soft women’s fabrics—prices are softer, too, starting at $495. The palette is lush yet masculine, traditional yet subtly perverse—quintessential French glamour with a musky dose of Stefano Pilati’s Mediterranean dandy. Needless to say, anything that pairs boyfriend blazer and Pilati sounds good to us. Available exclusively at YSL boutiques beginning Valentine's Day.

Since 2007, New High (M)art has pitted itself against the limited scope of Angeleno fashion, which pretty much comes down to East Side Hipsters versus Rachel Zoe. The store's founders, Miho Ikeda and Richard James Brewer, have bravely intervened in this epic struggle, injecting it with a healthy dose of conceptual fashion, along with some spaced-out weirdness for good measure. Nestled in a cozy Chinatown storefront, the operation has nurtured a new generation of undiscovered talent with a series of “store moments,” or pop-up installations with stoner titles like “Cosmic Collision” and “World Fringe: an ethno, boho, afro pow wow.” In their vision quest, Ikeda and Brewer have introduced Alex and Chloe jewelry (pictured here), Brian Lichtenberg, Telfar and Society for Rational Dress to the fashion-famished masses. Now, with the launch of their new e-shop, you’re just a puff and an interface away from the full experience. It’s transcendent design for the new millennium, man!
New High (M)art, Alex and Chloe
Blaak, London
For nearly ten years, London-based men's label Blaak has had that elusive, dark appeal—the Jordan Catalano for the style set. Now, to celebrate a decade of broodiness, Blaak is unveiling its first boutique, and with usual aplomb. Perhaps to underscore its longstanding role in British fashion, Blaak has chosen an unlikely site: The Old Curiosity Shop, first immortalized by Charles Dickens (really, it even says so on the wall). Built circa 1567, this is allegedly the oldest shop in London, and perhaps even the birthplace of its retail history. The new space provides an unexpected mash-up of modern design and Elizabethan England, carrying not only Blaak's complete collection, but also sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith, handmade shoes by Daita Kimura (there’s a cobbler station in the cellar) and custom furniture in a special collaboration with artist Max Lamb. Olde England it may be, but no jilted spinsters in dusty wedding gowns here.

Alexander McQueen hits the bull's-eye with his new collaboration with Target, taking up the mantle of previous high-profile, lower-priced collaborations (Proenza Schouler, Luella). When doors open on March 3, dive for instant McQ for Target classics, like a leather biker vest or an asymmetrical jersey jumpsuit. Plus, if you're in New York, look for Target's McQ Market, a valentine pop-up preview on February 14-15 at the St. John's Center on Hudson Street. Get there early, though. Stocking the full collection, it'll be cleared out in seconds… Skinny-jean pioneers Cheap Monday look to expand their repertoire (and their rap as the Jonas Brothers’ outfitters of choice) with the release of their new line, WKND. Featuring more intrepid designs, from dolman-sleeved jackets to high-tech prints, the collection cultivates a more sophisticated, less tween-y look. The full line will inaugurate the L.A. concept store Choose Chinatown... Brooklyn women’s boutique Bird hatches its third and largest store in Williamsburg at 203 Grand Street. Housed in a former bakery and bread factory, the space begs comparison to that weird nursery rhyme about pies and birds, so we’ll avoid digression and simply say: look for a chirpy selection of your fave labels, such as Maison Martin Margiela Ligne 6, Isabel Marant, Rachel Comey, Stella McCartney and Zero + Maria Cornejo... Vancouver-based boutique Komakino is making the leap to the next dimension, forsaking the demands of a brick-and-mortar space (read sky-high rents) and going totally virtual. Not to fret, this is like Stephen King's Lawnmower Man, but with way better clothes and no clunky headgear. When it launches mid-month, the new e-shop will bring you Julius, Number (N)ine and Passarella Death Squad. Be the first to plug in.
Damir Doma, Paris, store
Legions of pinstripe-thin fans swore they’d never love again after a certain lithe genius with a penchant for rock bands and cropped tailoring departed his high-profile stint, leaving behind a trail of sunken cheeks and wan imitators. But don’t despair. Time might not heal all wounds, but new goodies certainly help. So the unveiling of Damir Doma’s first Paris shop (6 rue des Arquebusiers, 75003, in Hussein Chalayan's old showroom) might just spur that familiar flutter. Since 2007, the Croatian-born, Antwerp-schooled, Paris-based wunderkind has been creating his own universe, offering an alternative to the increasingly constricted proportions of the post-Hedi era. Having worked under Raf Simons, Doma unravels men’s suiting with expert hands, softening it into diaphanous, nomadic layers that echo his own expansive path. The new space elaborates this rustic sophistication with touches of steel and raw wood, offsetting the bold yet romantic silhouette. Imagine Lawrence of Arabia taking a detour through Belgian Conceptualism.

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