Hint pays attention to retail

While other designers blindly follow the trickle down theory of fashion—that is, start at the top with a signature line from which any number of diffusion lines can descend—Rogan Gregory, ever the maverick, is building his empire in the reverse direction: from the ground up. First came Rogan, his grassroots label of people-friendly denims and tees, followed by Loomstate, a quality casual range woven from organic fibers, and then the anti-sweatshop Edun, formed in collaboration with Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson. Now comes A Litl Betr, a near-bespoke line of men's (and some women's) suits and such, which, if the prices are any indication (jacket and pants up to $2,800, shirts $500 and cashmere sweaters $1,000), is much more than just a little better. The back story goes like this: two years ago, Gregory was invited to a wedding, but couldn't find a suit he wanted to wear, so, as designers are wont to do, he made his own. Based on that experience and with no lack of entrepreneurial spirit, he then decided to develop a suit line, scouring the globe in search of a tailor to assist him with a capsule collection—Japan's Yosuke Okubo, it turned out to be. The limited debut, fall 05, features no more than twenty pieces for men, from three-button jackets in various rough fabrics to narrow silk ties and cashmere caps, with colors keeping mostly on the dark side of the spectrum, while details include brocade linings and hand-carved black mother-of-pearl buttons. For Rogan fans, it doesn't get any better than A Litl Betr. Available at Barneys New York, Harrods in London and Isetan in Tokyo.

"My craftsman wouldn't talk to me for two days after I admitted to him the skulls weren't plastic, but real," says Rick Owens, the designer with a penchant for all things camp and cult. Those human skulls, along with beaver fur, plywood, fiberglass, concrete, angora upholstery, lead, industrial foam and other motley materials, make up a morbidly luxe new furniture line from the Los Angeles native, who also serves as the creative director of Revillon, the centuries-old French furrier whose offerings are, come to think of it, looking increasingly Shelley-esque. Inspired by his need to fill the five stories of his decadent new home and headquarters in Paris, the line blends modern proportions with Owens' own subversive style. Thus, with a dishabille attitude similar to that of his deconstructivist ready-to-wear label, the resulting chairs, benches, tables, blown-glass lamps and vases are equal parts classic and crude, refined and raw, graceful and gothic. "I'm trying to find modern and elegant lines, but in a primitive way," he explains. The pieces, which range in price from $4,000 to $12,000, are also intended to convey a sense of hope and rebirth, which is, after all, at the very heart of black magic. Available by calling +39 011 56 18 697.


Click here for a slideshow of icy-cool images by Polish illustrator Przemek Sobocki, starring Prada's Shetland Double Rings wool coat (you'll see Prada tights, too, but the apple bag is by Izabela Gkagkanis). The "melancholy" homage, as Sobocki describes it, was inspired by manga, the 60's film Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni's directorial masterpiece—rent it today if you haven't seen it) and, of course, the genius that is Prada. So, it's true, fashion can still move people. $5755 at Barneys and Prada in SoHo, where heaps of other winter coats can be worshipped.

Topshop is already among the first jetlagged jaunts for many a visitor to London. This season, however, the high street brand's sibling, Topman, is claiming the spotlight with the launch of its premium line, Topman Design, unveiled to the press earlier this year with a glittery show in the heart of the creative crucible of East London. Anglophile readers will know that Topman has seen its share of collaborations in past seasons, most notably with Kim Jones, Martin Andersson and Markus Lupfer, but with Topman Design it's the in-house design team whose creativity has been allowed to run riot. The result is an eclectic collection of super-chunky patchwork scarves, skinny pants and blazers, over-dyed denim and heavy winter knits with a thrown-together look and homespun feel. It's good news all around, but especially for New Yorkers, who no longer have to schlep empty suitcases on transatlantic trips for their Top-ups, but can instead pop into Manhattan's own Opening Ceremony, which now carries both Topman Design and its premium sister line, Topshop Unique. But shop fast as editions are limited and some have been selling out within days. - Stephen Morris

Sometimes even shoptarts reach retail burn-out and need a place to revive, imbibe and light up. Enter Accompanied Library. By day, the dim, double-story space inside the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park is an unassuming lending library of vintage books and generally a meeting spot for mostly alternative writers and those who love/read them. By night, the lights go dimmer, the music goes up, the elder residents lock their doors and the place becomes party central. Recent soirees include a reading by poet-preacher-rapper Saul Williams, hosted by Bono, that drew more than a few literate creatures-of-the-night, the likes of which the dark-wood walls and ornate chandeliers had never seen, as well as a more raucous reading by cultish author-editor Max Blagg. You could say the not-so-public library is the SoHo House of the East Side, albeit cooler, smarter and attracting the kind of new blood that the Club's board members envisioned when they hooked up with the Library's founders, Brooke Geahan and Iris Brooks. But, fashionably fetching femmes though they are, they'll be the first to downplay the party part of the story while emphasizing the founding tenet of the Accompanied Library Society, which is that literature does not exist in a vacuum, but interacts with other creative disciplines. How's that for word play?