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Ali Shops Blog

Cupid Strikes at Arrow

February 15th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

Arrow, the hotly anticipated North Loop boutique from Intoto alums Michael Basham and Sarah Dwyer opened briefly on Valentine’s Day for a VIP preview. The store officially opens Feb. 23, although you may catch the lights on here and there until then.

Former Intoto shoppers seemed relieved/giddy at the array of casual luxury apparel–slouchy sweaters, chic blouses, understated–but clearly high-end–accessories from fashion forward (they call it “directional”) brands. Several more spring collections are expected to arrive in the next few weeks. This opening elevates the growing retail scene in the North Loop tremendously. 121 N. First St., Minneapolis

Rock & Republic at Kohl’s

February 15th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

Rock & Republic, known for its premium (a.k.a. $200) denim before going bankrupt, is back on shelves today–exclusively at Kohl’s. The brand maintains its rock star vibe, but at more affordable prices: $80 for skinny jeans; $44 for a studded tank. And of course, it’s Kohl’s, so right off the bat, everything is 30 percent off. The initial collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week, includes apparel and footwear for women and men.

Dueling Dry Bars

February 15th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

When it rains, it pours. In addition to Blast, the blow dry bar opening two locations this spring at Shops at West End and Aloft, another blow dry bar–name not yet revealed–is in the works for 50th & France, and this one has some big names behind it.

Twin Cities attorney and philanthropist Parrel Caplan has assembled an A-List team that includes one of the Twin Cities’ best known stylists, Jason Deavalon–who has a cult-like following among local notables–and Rick Goldberg, a beauty industry guru who co-developed Cost Cutters, has consulted with Aveda and developed lines for Target and CVS. Deavalon, who has his own full-service salon in Uptown, won’t actually take appointments at the new spot, but Caplan says he will train the stylists.

The new blow dry bar will occupy the former Marty’s Barber Shop space on France Avenue in Edina.

It’s worth noting that both Twin Cities blow dry bars are being launched by business women, not stylists. Blast is owned by Kristin Neafus and Heidi Brownlee. They, like Caplan, say they see opportunity in focusing exclusively on hair styling–a trend that has caught fire on the coasts with women who crave movie star hair that lasts them for days. Meanwhile, Twin Cities salon owners like Jon Charles, who is known for his blow dries and has earned national attention for his blow dry boot camp, have shied away from the blow dry bar concept, saying it’s tough to make money on styling alone.

Like Blast, Caplan also plans to charge $35 for a blowout.

“Big salons have higher overhead, so they have to charge higher prices,” Caplan says. “My business plan is based on getting people in the door for $35. We will be open long hours, seven days a week.”

I know I’ve complained about Twin Cities salons charging as much for a blow dry as they do for a haircut. But is $35 the magic number–in a market where consumers are notoriously reluctant to pamper themselves? That may come down to whether women view professional hair styling as a necessity, or an indulgence.



Valentine’s Day, MOA Style

February 14th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

And what have you done so far today? Five crazy couples boarded the Ferris wheel early this morning at Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe and simultaneously got hitched in motion. The quintuple wedding was officiated by a pastor from the mall’s Chapel of Love. (He remained grounded and used a microphone.)

The couples noshed on Bruegger’s bagels before the ceremonial ride. There were no reports of motion sick brides or grooms.

To celebrate the nuptials–and what is apparently also National Ferris Wheel Day–Ferris wheel rides are free all day at MOA.

Flawless Adele

February 13th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

It was Adele’s night at the Grammys. Besides the stellar performance and the six Grammy wins, you couldn’t help but notice how radiant she looked. For that, the credit goes to makeup artist Daniel Martin, who used Koh Gen Do Cosmetics on the powerhouse singer. His top products for Adele:

Moisture Concealer ($54) — A sheer layer to even out the skin

Aqua Foundation ($62) — Moisturizes while covering imperfections

Manifanshi UV Face Powder ($42) — The fine pearl powder fits into uneven skin surfaces, camouflaging pores and fine lines

Fresh Face Cheek Color in Apricot Peach ($41) — A natural wash of healthy color

Available at select Sephora locations, or order online.

New in Stillwater

February 13th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

Stillwater has had a rash of retail changes lately. I have to be honest, I was underwhelmed on a recent visit to Main Street, but I’m holding out hope that by springtime, there will be renewed excitement in this charming riverfront downtown–one of my favorite day trips in the Twin Cities.

Forget Me Not, selling fresh flowers and home accents, is now open in the former Doozie space. 402 Main St. S., 651-430-8113

Rose Mille has moved into a smaller spot in the Grand Garage. It has charm, but lacks the wow factor of the old location…and has a much more edited assortment focused on paper goods, ribbon and the like. This could be a temporary arrangement–an  employee told me Rose Mille is considering a second location for DIY classes. 324 Main St. S., 651-439-0205

Also in the Grand Garage, is Grace James Boutique, selling contemporary women’s fashion, from denim to dresses. I liked some of the pieces–and prices–I saw, but wanted more. We’ll chalk that up to being between seasons. I’ll definitely be checking back–both for Grace James, and another new store opening this spring with fashion aimed at women over 40. 324 Main St. S., Stillwater, 651.430.8000

Venture up the hill to Karma Clothing Co. This trendy consignment store has a new owner, and looks better than ever. Find designer pieces, contemporary fashion, accessories and even some new gifts from local brands. 126 Second St. S., Stillwater, 651-342-1004

Mpls Gets a Blow Dry Bar

February 13th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

Minneapolis is finally getting a blow dry bar–two, actually. A pair of local entrepreneurs have signed leases to open Blast Blow Dry Bar at the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park and Aloft hotel in downtown Minneapolis.  Like the blow dry bars that have become popular on the coasts, Blast will stick to a simple regimen: wash, blow dry, style, for $35. They don’t want to replace your salon, rather, become a destination before events, or even as part of a weekly routine (ah, dreamy), where you can “Blast in, blow out” in 45 minutes or less.

The owners are not stylists, but they’ve hired manages with extensive salon experience and plan to employ experienced stylists from salons around town on a part time basis. They’re also planning their own product line. Blast will open this spring.

Their ads are about to start showing up around town…

Anne Cramer Spring/Wedding 2012

February 10th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

Stylist Ann Prentice, on set at Anne Cramer's Spring 2012 photo shoot. (First time they've given their girl a guy!)

Photo shoot on Friday; collection launch on Tuesday. That’s a crunch, even by harried fashion industry standards, but Anne Cramer, intends to debut her new wedding collection and spring line on Valentine’s Day. And Cramer’s timing is always impeccable. Last spring’s endearing striped Flynn skirt gave way to the full length Flynn, which has become a favorite for bridesmaids–and has had Cramer working overtime to fill orders around the country. Now, the Minneapolis-based designer is gearing up for another wave of national exposure, with pieces from her latest collection due to appear in spring issues of top bridal magazines, including Cramer’s dream come true: Martha Stewart Weddings.

Spring Ready to Wear will launch along with the latest pastel striped full length Flynns. “I’ll always have a stripe,” says Cramer, who–per usual– is feeling at once elegant and irreverent. This season, she’s headed to the country club, but prefers ping pong to tennis. With a bedazzled paddle.

She let me peek in on the photo shoot at her South Minneapolis studio today for a preview. For the first time, Cramer has created her own fabrics, printed with her unique mix of preppy crests and quirky ping pong paddles. There’s a sunny dress and a light sweater with elbow length sleeves (“the most flattering length,” Cramer says, “especially over 40.”). These are pieces that will work with Tretorns by the pool or with heels for dinner.

Order online starting Feb. 14. Look for the latest from Anne Cramer in stores, including Melly at the Galleria, next month.

Meet Maria Rivolta

February 8th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

I had the pleasure to meet Argentinian jewelry designer Maria Rivolta at her namesake store at Mall of America today. She’s engaging and chic—in a gray and black, Calvin Klein-inspired, understated way you might not expect from someone whose jewelry is known for color. But Rivolta loves a pop of color or shine. And she likes her jewelry to be fun, fashionable, and delightfully affordable. Meet her at the store (first level, outside Bloomingdale’s) from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, and save on two of her favorite enamel designs.

BlackBlue Dresses Bon Iver for Grammys

February 7th, 2012
by Allison Kaplan

Justin Vernon, lead singer of hot indie band Bon Iver, told New York Magazine he plans to wear “a suit from some really cool guys in St. Paul at a store called BlackBlue” to the Grammys on Sunday. (Yep, he’s going–even after making headlines by declining an invitation to perform at the show. Bon Iver is nominated for four Grammy Awards.)

For the record, the suit is a brown tweed from Dunderdon–one of BlackBlue’s more moderately priced labels. And he didn’t originally buy it for the Grammys. Vernon, who lives in Eau Claire, dropped by BlackBlue one day, straight from hunting deer in Northern Wisconsin. His clothes were blood splattered, and he needed something clean to meet his girlfriend. He picked the brown suit, pictured above. The jacket sells for $255; pants $105. A couple people who work with the band bought the same pants. “They just fit really well,” says BlackBlue owner Steve Kang. The store has one pair left. Grab ‘em before the Grammys. | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved