March '05
Hint pays attention to retail

Amid the swirl of rumors he'll be offered the reins at Helmut Lang or Jil Sander, Raf Simons has plenty to keep him optimistic. But, as usual, the hermetic Belgian is light years ahead, having shown a spring collection that already proposes a New Optimism, and now given traction by these Italian-made leather sneaker-boots for men, his first foray into shoe-making. Reminiscent of a 70's sci-fi flick, complete with large velcro straps in place of laces, the so-called "motorcycle boots" ($595, in white or black) are both chunky and streamlined, combining the soul-searching of Easy Rider and the robo-fabulousness of Tron. In the U.S. at Seven New York only—contact the site for availability as the store has yet to reopen.
Men's label Les Hommes isn't as it seems. Its two founding designers are Belgian, not French, and their aesthetic is an intentionally jarring contrast of rough and refined elements, a duality by design. Both graduates of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Tom Notte—who once had a stint at Olivier Theyskens—has an eye for the hard-edged while Bart Vandebosch brings a tailor's touch. The result, like two interlocking pieces of a puzzle that shouldn't have fit, is exemplified in this heavily-detailed fitted jacket—which, along with trenches, are the label's forte. With an epaulet adorning the lapel and a plethora of admiral-style pockets and other trompe l'oeuil delights like false zippers, the military theme is bold, to say the least, yet a closer look reveals an adherence to classic design in the narrow sleeves and high armholes. Speaking of arms, the jacket will cost you a one, plus a leg, as its price tag ranges from $1150 to $1300. We've said it before and we'll say it again: fashion hurts. In London at Selfridges, L.A. at Maxfield's and in New York exclusively at Atelier, 125 Crosby St., 212-941-8435.

So you want an oversized bag to stuff all the bulk you can't leave home without (you never know when that Le Book might come in handy), but you can't be seen schlepping around one that's stretched beyond attractiveness, hanging limply like a sack of beer bottles? Then Y-3's Lampion Bag ($385, in black or white) from Adidas is just what you need. In reference to traditional paper lamps with little candles inside, the oval tote features alternate panels of plain and perforated leather that refuse to get bent out of shape, even when fully crammed with accoutrement. In New York at Yohji Yamamoto, 103 Grand Street, 212-966-9066.


With Belgium, Denmark, England and Italy having claimed turf in Manhattan's nauseatingly euro-chic 14th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues—Markt, Bodum, McQueen and La Perla respectively—Germany seems late in crashing the block party. Nevertheless, Teutonic sports behemoth Puma has opened shop in the beleaguered hood with a cub-sized outlet. If you were thinking of replacing your classic Puma kicks, however, you may want to save the trip, as the new premises specializes exclusively in the brand's "lifestyle" offerings. Echoing a trend arguably started by the brand's fellow German three-striped rival, Puma is pushing toward less performance-oriented and more image-conscious merch, dedicating the new Meatpacking space almost entirely to fashion-world collaborations such as Nuala (Christy Turlington), Mihara (Mihara Yasuhiro) and Rudolf Dassler (Alexander van Slobbe). Puma, 421 West 14th Street, 212-206-0109. -Suleman Anaya

Who wears short shorts? You will. Bless Sao Paulo design duo Neon for cutting a pair ($100-200, $150-250 in denim) that looks hot-pants-y, but miraculously covers the most unsightly bits. Though they started out as a swimwear line, Neon's Dudu Bertholini and Rita Camparato are branching out into resortwear that's like updated Norma Kamali gone coconuts. Pair these with one of their cheeky printed maillots ($150) for innocent poolside hotness, or pop into that Manhattan haven of all things Brazil, Opening Ceremony (35 Howard St., 212-219-2688), for a look at a more expanded range of T-shirts, cotton dresses and, of course, bikinis.