HaroldWell hellooo, Harold. Introducing the new menswear-inspired accessories line from hot, hot Minneapolis-based Nelle Handbags. The launch party is April 15 and you're invited. Don't forget to RSVP – you could win a Harold tote. Details here.

Photo courtesy of Erica Loeks Photography

IMG_0649 I've orchestrated fashion shoots at restaurants and parks, museums and zoos, but today's spring fashion shoot for the St. Paul Pioneer Press at the new Target Field has to be the coolest. Not necessarily the easiest, logistically, as we moved models and lights and cameras and the ensuing entourage from the IMG_0650
outfield to the dugouts and back again, but standing on the edge of that perfectly manicured grass, looking out at the stands and the skyline was awesome. Some favorite moments of the day: Being told to set up in the concession staging area, a closet without table or chairs, and ushering the entire crew – photographer, videographer, three hair and makeup people, stylist, assistant, two models, one model's dad, racks of clothing and a steamer – inside, only to find a team of concession workers in training who seemed quite confused by our unlikely presence; Wiping down a seat in the upper decks so a model could pose on it in a DVF dress; models barefoot in the dirt in front of the dugouts (shouldda been there, Mauer), eating cracker jacks by the first baseline, the president of the twins telling photographer Chris Polydoroff our models could sit on top of the dugout, but had better not stand on it; fireworks going off before one shot and dramatic orchestral music coming on during another. Salon owner Jon Charles kept gushing "Amazing, amazing," as we took in views from various sections and primped models in the sun drenched upper decks . "Do you like baseball?" I asked him. He responded, without hesitation, "Not a bit!" Today might have changed that for a few fashionistas. Now if only we could get the Twins to model…IMG_0658

Grown-ups frequently complain that mall stores cater to teens. Yet one by one, the "grown-up" concepts introduced by the big three: Gap (Forth & Towne), Abercrombie & Fitch (Ruehl No. 925) and most recently, American Eagle's Martin + Osa, have failed. Do the chains not understand what post-college shoppers want to wear into their 30s and beyond? Or are those shoppers not buying what they say they want? With Martin + Osa, I'd say it's a bit of both. AE didn't skimp on the trappings at Martin + Osa: the dramatic wood store exterior, the musky scent, the spacious fitting rooms that are like an escape to the country. Perhaps they should have spent more time developing the look of the clothes. A little bit J. Crew, a little Banana – Martin + Osa offered some great basics (I own several), but failed to truly distinguish itself and connect with its intended customer base. That said, shoppers need to step out of their rut, stop complaining and consider the alternatives – or the alternatives disappear and we're left with ultra low rise skinny, relaxed cut capris and not a whole lot in between.
But not quite yet. Martin + Osa is still receiving new spring merchandise and stores, including the Mall of America location, will remain open until they sell through it (sale merch is currently and extra 30% off; jeans are $25 off). Stores will close by July or August – maybe sooner, as people discover Martin + Osa, now that it's getting some attention.

Livingproof Yes I did double back across Mall of America to save $4.50 today and it gave me great satisfaction. Sephora is selling Living Proof. styling products (good for taming the frizzies – one of the few I'll vouch for) for $24, same price as the Living Proof website. But [email protected] Mall and QVC.com has the same products for $19.50! That's a significant difference. Good to remember QVC for beauty and haircare – they carry a lot of quality, high-end brands, and the prices are competitive. Of that, I've got Proof.

Betsey Johnson will open at Mall of America this spring. Now that's a good get. (The Twin Cities is one of the only metropolitan areas lacking a BJ.) The playful designer is a Fashion Week favorite and her hot pink boutiques are always filled with rockin' dresses, accessories, intimates, jewelry and more. I just hope Betsey jets in for the opening – would love to see her doing her famous cartwheels inside the SpongeBob pineapple bouncer.

How many times have I written recently that Selby & Snelling is the corner to watch? Well don't look away: coming in May, Tennis on Selby, a tennis boutique that aims to pick up where Tennis 5.0 left off some 15 years ago – down to the very same racket stringing expert. But this store will feature hard-to-find tennis apparel plus shoes and accessories for men. Later this summer, expect to see a new high-end fashion boutique join the mix at Selby & Snelling, along with an appointment only store for local handbag line Heddy Freddy.  AliShops.com will bring you all the opening details.

Seems like every couple of years there's a new salon for men – a dark wood paneled place with a pool table, free beer and sports scores on the big screens intended to make guys feel less self-conscious about good grooming. The question is, are guys longing for a classy but macho salon to call their own or are they just as happy at Great Clips? So many seem to fade away…but expectations are high for the latest crop. On the heels of the second Regis-owned RAZE for men opening in the Twin Cities at West End, the doors opened today at Mens Dept., 930 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. Created by Kurt Kueffner, a haircare and styling veteran with Aveda and American Crew, Mens Dept haircuts start at $32; "grey blending" starts at $38, and the menu of services goes on. Stop by between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays for a boxed lunch with your service. That just might convince my man to spring for a salon cut.

Maplewood Mall might finally be able to make Rosedale Center a tad bit jealous: H&M plans to open at Maplewood Mall. An 18,000-square-foot store is under construction on the second level of the mall. It is scheduled to open in the fall. Maplewood is owned by Simon Properties, which also owns Southdale Center where fast fashion emporium H&M opened a two-level store last year.

The rebirth of Uber Baby at West End in St. Louis Park is set for April 9. Sounds like Lynne and Dan Gonsior aim to recapture the hip flavor of the original Uber Baby in South Minneapolis, and do it up bigger. They will introduce a private label line of baby basics called "U" and a wall of chic diaper bags they promise will be "largest in the country." Anxious for my sneak peek in a few weeks! Will keep you posted.

MODE has delivered what it promised since opening in Maple Grove: brand name, brand new apparel, accessories and beauty goods at outlet prices. Owner Ciara Stockeland has been planning a bigger, better, more polished boutique setting across the street from the current shop on Main Street and finally, she's ready to open there on April 1, and market the store as the "Home of the $40 designer jean." Think that's a deal? Mark the calendar: for the first three days, the first 40 customers in the store will get a pair of jeans for free. Details here.