October '06
We pay attention to retail

Inspired by Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1973 anthem "Freebird," scenester-cum-jeweller Waris Ahluwalia melds classic rock with hand-crafted silver for his jewelry collaboration with French clothiers A.P.C. Nothing screams 70's soul-searching country-rock like a pendant in the shape of the band's trademark dagger symbol ($167), a guitar lapel pin ($139) covered in red or black enamel or teardrop pins ($77). But don't try pinning down the designer himself. When he's not splitting his time between New York, Rome and Rajasthan, in his native India, where he meets with local artisans for his own House of Waris jewelry, Ahluwalia is becoming a regular on the big screen with roles in Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic" and Spike Lee's "Inside Man." And, yes, both directors are clients. Available online at A.P.C. or in the store, 131 Mercer Street, 212-966-9685.
Giving Cheap Monday a run for its money, April 77 is the latest skinny jean to emigrate from Europe—and it's hitting the States like a ton of Rolling Stones. Not only does the band serve as the French label's ongoing inspiration, but its guitarist, Ron Wood, is known to wear the incredibly shrinking denim (from $145) onstage, as do Iggy Pop and the rakish rogues of Franz Ferdinand and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. With music in his blood, designer Brice Partouche, who named the line after his date of birth, even has his own band, Rodeo Massacre, and says he picks up ideas for styles and cuts while touring. The resulting premium-yet-affordable (now that's satisfaction) pants and jackets come with signature diagonal zips and album-looking tags. At Seven New York (110 Mercer Street, 646-654-0156) and Dover Street Market, 17-18 Dover Street, London W1S 4LT.

Marni, the quirky Italian label launched little over a decade ago by designer Consuelo Castiglioni, goes haute-tech with a website that matches e-commerce with its own eclectic (e-clectic?) style. Devotees and newbies can browse through selections for women, men and children without having to hoof it to any of Marni's ten freestanding boutiques or a department store, although, for now, only women's is available for online purchase. Or you can peruse a feature called Moods, showcasing pre-styled coordinated looks, create a Wish List or simply fill up the shopping cart. With a comforting refund policy and international shipping, the site is definitely worth the Marni. –Lisa Weatherby

Never say we don't go the distance for our dear Hintsters. For this month's ASIB, we hit not one, but four new stores. First up, BBlessing (181 Orchard Street, NYC, 212-378-8005). The men's boutique, gallery and recording studio takes its cues, says designer Daniel Jackson, a member of the art collective Surface to Air, "from a cozy Paris bar, circa 1900, that transports absinthe to the Pacific Northwest by way of the Lower East Side." Whatever that means, the intoxicating interior—with its black drapes, red walls, antique wood furniture (some turned upside down to make clothing racks) and a chandelier made of crack pipes—seems to fit the description. As do the mostly gothic-meets-street labels that make up the store's roster, including Preen, Patrik Ervell, Iliad, Rag & Bone, Oliver Helden and BBlessing's own line. Just steps away on Orchard Street is the hidden Valley, a clothing store, beauty salon and café all rolled into one. The brainchild of Nina and Julia Werman, sisters from—you guessed it—the valley in L.A., the little shop carries Grey Ant, Sass & Bide, Borne, Geren Ford and Cresciente shoes, while offering customized nail art and airbrushed make-up. Meanwhile, smack in the middle of the real Los Angeles, an intentionally dingy, raw space (pictured above) called 06+ (125 W. 4th Street, #106, L.A., 213-626-6606) has just opened, selling what its owners call "fucked up" fashion. That means Raf by Raf Simons, Bless, Hussein, Undercover and local favorite Unholy Matrimony. Back in Brooklyn, Alec Stuart and Celeste Wright decided to keep, a la Martin Margiela, the antiquated sign that says "French Garment Cleaners" as the facade of their new store, Stuart & Wright (85 Lafayette Ave., 718-797-0011). But inside the sleek, modern interior, one finds, in addition to A.P.C., a assortment of hot New York labels: An Earnest Cut & Sew, Beard & Bangs, Engineered Garments, Lyell and 2006 CFDA Award nominee Loeffler Randall, plus a selection of vintage.

When a door closes, a window breaks—or something like that—and so two years after Miguel Adrover's return to Spain comes the debut fall collection of his former design director, Peter Hidalgo. But unlike Adrover's stunts—which ranged from using discarded and discolored street-found mattress fabric to cajoling live (and loud) sheep onto his runway—the Dominican-born designer has gone high glam, channeling the flawlessness of screen legends Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Veronica Lake. With, perhaps, a little Jessica Rabbit mixed in. Indeed, the 37-year-old designer, who arrived in New York in 1994, has often claimed to be influenced by the hyper-stylized hourglass figures in the drawings of fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, who taught Hidalgo in a Parsons outreach course in Santo Domingo. If that's the case, these dresses and suits—in stretch wool and cashmere blends—make Hidalgo's first outing a form-fitting tribute to his mentor. At Linda Dresner, 484 Park Ave., 212-308-3177.