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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for February, 2009

How to keep people shopping

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Local retailers and a handful of designers gathered this evening for a boutique round table discussion put on by Gaviidae Common and moderated by yours truly. The conversation focused on service, service, service. Pricing and sales were barely discussed. The consensus seemed to be that stores stand a better chance of surviving the downtown when they stick with what they do best – even if that means selling luxury goods at a time when people are scaling back. Store owners are losing sleep trying to come up with ways to provide shoppers with a memorable experience and foster lasting relationships (do you want them to send you mail and track everything you buy? Discuss!). Even reps from Saks Off Fifth told me they are stressing service. Standing behind the counter waiting for customers just doesn't work in this economic climate.

Here come the knock-offs

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Just days after the Academy Awards, copies of some of the stars' dresses are already in production and scheduled to hit stores before the prom rush. You can actually order now at The choices might surprise you: eDressme is doing a version of the dresses worn by Kate Winslet and Amy Adams. eDressme CEO Joanne Stoner tells me she zeroed in on Kate Winslet's dark fitted gown because it was formal, unusual and modern with the one shoulder neckline. The Amy Adams dress, which was overshadowed on the red carpet by her mammoth necklace, "has universal appeal," Stoner says. The fitted bodice and fuller skirt is a flattering shape for most women, the chiffon draped in front gave the dress a feminine touch and red is a great choice for for formal affairs (just ask Heidi Klum). The dresses will sell for $375 and $325 respectively. Meanwhile, copies of the dresses worn by Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Viola Davis are available for pre-order at

Ouch! Even a couch critic can see that Sarah Jessica Parker's hair is looking drab, but celeb makeup artist Mary Flaa has more bones to pick with SJP: "her makeup and plastic surgery look awful!" I don't want to believe it, but…

Red carpet observations

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Wshew. Just gave tomorrow's Oscars fashion page a final read for the St. Paul Pioneer Press (it's got to start printing if it is to arrive on your doorstep – in color! – by dawn). First impressions are always most telling, but with a bit of time to look beyond the shimmer, it's worth noting that while most shoulders were bare, there was very little in the way of cleavage on the red carpet – in all, a very elegant, lady-like showing. Of course, as I have now had a couple of hours to mull some of the dresses, I can plainly say that my dislike for Miley Cyrus' dress has grown to horror. I want to pull that stupid knit cap of Philip Seymore Hoffman's head. I am still marveling at Meryl Streep, proud of Kate Winslet, charmed by Taraji Henson, bored with Sarah Jessica and I think I'd understand if my husband left me for Natalie Portman. Just forward my mail to Hugh Jackman's place.

On the red carpet

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I'm wearing diamonds, because TV Guide Network's Lawrence Zarian told me to sparkle if I'm going judge the stars who grace the red carpet at tonight's Academy Awards. And I do intend to judge. By all means, join me. I'm updating on Facebook, I'm tweeting (, I'm writing for the Pioneer Press. I'm exhausted already, and I'm not even wearing heels.

On the scene at our spring fashion shoot

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Facebook allison
Woke up to a windchill…a perfect day to model spring fashions! Working on the March 8 spring fashion section for the St. Paul Pioneer Press with photographer Chris Polydoroff today. At this very moment, hair is being teased, lips are being glossed, poses are being struck and belts and shoes are being mismatched – purposely! Here's our beauty team from Root salon in St. Paul getting the models prepped (that's me off to the right thinking deep thoughts about a trench coat). Insider beauty tip: hot rollers work wonders – and fast.
Expect to see easy, breezy dresses, slouchy jeans and cropped pants, and lots of neutrals, which are so much fun to accessorize. But we're all drooling over a colorful, long Johnny Was slip dress from Karma. Helps to be 5-foot-11, add a 5-inch heel and not an ounce of fat. And the models are eating pizza! Hate them.

Animals stole my dress

Monday, February 16th, 2009

There is no time for missteps in my morning. My alarm clock, a needy 10-month-old, has no snooze button. The 4-year-old can turn putting on his Elmo underpants into a three hour event. My day requires 72 bags, three lunch boxes, extra Elmo underpants, a breast pump, notebooks, yogurt bars, a camera and goggles, which are inevitably missing as we walk out the door. As I brush my teeth (a luxury, really), I think about where I'm going, who I'm seeing and plot out my outfit. I knew the dress I wanted to wear the other day. I put on the brown tights and navy shirt I wanted to layer underneath. I grabbed a slip. I packed up everything and everyone and finally, as the morning rituals were nearing completion, I stepped into my closet to put on the dress.
It wasn't there.
Naturally, I blamed my husband.
I frantically shuffled through every item of clothing – on my side and his. I knew right where the dress was supposed to be. I saw it there just recently. I'm sure I did. I know I did.
Gone, gone, gone.
And this, just days after a new sweater went missing. Really missing. Like, even-looked-in-the-freezer missing.
I don't have time for this. I don't have the patience for this. I managed to keep from cursing, still, my 4-year-old sensed my distress (the seething must have been the giveaway). So he put on his detective hat and declared that he knew what had happened to my clothes.
"Animals came in your closet in the night and took them away!"
Makes as much sense as anything. Anyone got the number for the animal police?
Meanwhile, we were now running 10 minutes late, long enough for the baby to drool through all three layers, and still I stood in nothing more than those tights and that shirt, which now, truth be told, was a little bit damp.
"You could just wear another pretty dress, Mommy," my big boy suggested.
And so I did.

See Ali Shop

Friday, February 13th, 2009

The Savvy Shopper (that be me) tests her shopping smarts at MOA. Press play!

Hottie alert: male figure skaters

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Aliwithskaters I love a man who is comfortable in his figure skates. U.S. champion Evan Lysacek and pairs champ John Zimmerman were in town today to hype their Feb. 22 Xcel Energy Center performance with Stars on Ice. Between TV appearances, we engaged in some retail therapy at Len Druskin Man. No sequins involved, but we did talk a lot about stretchy fabrics and hair product.Lysacekhair Divine. Read all about it in the  St. Paul Pioneer Press on Feb. 22, a day that might well find me at the show, drooling over Zimmerman, who is married. To an Italian skater, no less.

Stamp of approval

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Ah, the instant gratification. Shop for Valentine's Day cards and stationery online at, and then run over to their Minneapolis showroom and pick up your stuff in person. The girls just announced a cool offer: buy online, have your orders boxed, pick them up in person (4850 W. 35th St., St. Louis Park) and shop exclusive off-line sale selections while you're there. Now that's showing some love to the hometown customers! | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved