Something exciting is brewing in the former EuroNest space on Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park: local retailers and designers are teaming up for a holiday shop called The Guild. June , Style Minneapolis, Kico Kids and Organic Divas are participating, along with respected dealers whose goods aren't always available, like fossil curator Laurie Luehmann, stylist Gwen Leeds and Pam Mondale's jewelry and accessories. Goods will be integrated - no booths. "Picture ABC Carpet and Home - first floor," says Ann Garrity of Organic Divas. Clothing and accessories will have their own space, which Garrity compared to Bendel's second floor. Aim high! The store is scheduled to be open Nov. 3 to Dec. 31. But if it's a hit, there could be more to come in 2010.
Got to roam around the Galleria in Edina last week with fashion designer Zang Toi - you might know him from "Real Housewives of New York City," if not from the $8,000 dress department at Nordstrom. Celebs worship his work so much, they actually pay for it: Sharon Stone has the $6,000 cashmere and wool hand stitched wrap in 10 colors. Zang was in town for three days to do a trunk show and a party with his good friend Kevin Quinn of StyledLife. (He went home to NYC for the weekend and returned again on Monday for an appearance at Nordstrom Mall of America - talk about sharing some love with the little apple!) Now, I've shopped with picky, privileged characters, but Zang was a whole new level of elite: he really buys nothing off the rack. Except at Hermes. His life is entirely customized, from his gym shorts (velvet) to his phone, lip balm and house key (all silver). He was totally game to walk the mall and browse...just entirely uninterested. The line of the day: "It's fine for other people - not for Zang Toi." But he says it with such an infectious laugh, you can't help but be charmed. After I picked my chin up off the floor when he told me he'd never been to Target (should have marched him across the street on the spot), I asked Zang how and where he gets his basic, household stuff - toilet paper, tin foil. He had no idea. That's what assistants are for. But there's no assistant manning his Facebook page. Zang has recently discovered social networking and despite his caviar taste in life, online, he's willing to slum it with the masses. Read all about our visit to Len Druskin and beyond in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, Nov. 1.
Score one for Maple Grove. Edina's Bluebird Boutique will open a second location at the Shoppes atArbor Lakes next Friday, Oct. 30. Same cool-girl fashions, plus trend-right accessories like Big Buddha bags. (Could we put in a request for maybe a tinch more customer service?) Watch AliShops for more details.
Remember Luehmann? The intriguing shop behind Patina in South Minneapolis has closed. But tonight, from 6 to 9 p.m., owner and curator Laurie Leuhmann brings her museum-quality treasures to June, the designer consignment boutique at 3406 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. Peruse the fossils, taxidermy, hourglasses, skeletons ostrich eggs, and many other unusual finds, along with beautiful one-of-a-kind vintage jewelry. As June owner Daune Stinson describes: it's Ralph Lauren meets Charles Darwin!
Minnesota finally gets a Chico's Outlet next week. It is scheduled to open Tuesday, Oct. 27 at Albertville Premium Outlets. The front half of the store will feature merchandise made exclusively for the outlet including a line called Additions by Chico's - same look; lower price. In back is where you'll find the real deals: 30 to 75 percent off (sometimes more) past season merchandise. Opening specials include $2.99 for white pants and an extra 30 percent off already marked down apparel.
H&M is set to open this Thursday, Oct. 22 at Southdale Center in Edina. As is tradition for the fast fashion chain, the store will open with fanfare at noon, allowing time for excitement to build, music to get louder, employees to dance and, as is often the case, shoppers to line up. When the Twin Cities first H&M opened at Mall of America, the line extended out the door with people who waited hours just to say they were among the first in the door (those who didn't wait in line entered right behind them). But when store No. 2 opened in Woodbury, the scene was much more subdued. Southdale needs this. Wouldn't be surprised to see mall management execs out there dancing with the H&M crew. Will shoppers follow suit? The first 100 get discounts and a gift card worth anywhere for $10 to $100. I'd wait at least a few minutes for that.
Men are having a moment. I'm in the midst of pulling men's accessories for a Spaces magazine article and the biggest challenge is choosing which men's stores and which amazing pieces to include. A year ago, I might have been hard pressed to come up with a handful of cool, local boutiques even catering to men. Suddenly, it's an explosion: Kuhlman is back in business, martinpatrick3 gets better each season, StyledLife finally has the space to expand on accessories and gifts for men, Heimie's Haberdashery is thriving in St. Paul and the latest, exciting addition: BlackBlue (pictured, and see more of the shop's enviable aesthetic here). Time to step it up a notch, men. There's no excuse not to.
Soon, you'll be able to get an evening bag to match your manicure at Juut. Twin Cities designer Laura Nelli of hot handbag line Nelle has created a holiday accessories collection that will be sold exclusively at all eight Juut salon/spa locations beginning Nov. 3. The capsule collection include the brand new Eve clutch (pictured), designed for Juut, and the Nelle Headband Bud done in deep purples, soft silver and black with Nelle's signature attention to texture and detail. Prices range from $36 to $110.
As for the significance of the partnership: Juut, like most salons, is looking for creative ways to grow at a time when women are letting their hair go to space out salon services. Retail beyond the typical Aveda hair products has proved to be lucrative, from notebooks to headbands. And for Nelli, whose bags are sold online and in a few small boutiques, the partnership brings exposure on a grander scale. Could be very convenient: get a blow-out, a mani/pedi, an evening bag and you're ready to party.
No surprise here: Just four months after opening a second Fringe accessories shop at 50th & France, owner Andrea Rovner plans to close her original location in Hopkins . The old store's lack of ambiance was made even more obvious by the opening of the higher-profile, more polished store in Edina. And while inexpensive accessories seemed an unlikely fit for the notoriously posh 50th & France, it's proving to be a huge hit. (Even those with money get excited about a trendy $18 necklace!). Rovner says her Hopkins customers are flocking to Edina. The Hopkins Fringe store will close at the end of the year.
Deja vu! It was just a few years ago that I met Scott and Susan Kuhlman at the off-the-beating-path Warehouse District office/retail space where the Kuhlman brand got its start - then exploded too quickly and crumbled. Most people would move on to another project. Not the Kuhlmans. Despite losing their shirts - literally - they firmly believe in the need for a straightforward, attainable American brand offering European, fashion-forward tailored clothing. I reported a couple of months ago that they quietly relaunched online. Now, they've quietly opened three stores in New York, Boston and as of this week, Minneapolis at 420 N. Fifth St. in the Ford Center. Same style, slightly higher prices, no grandiose plans of going public. And an added initial. This time, it's s. kuhlman. The store is still getting ramped up for business, but the Kuhlmans aren't the type to wait. Men's woven shirts are currently in stock and the first tailored men's collection is due to hit the racks by the end of October.