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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for September, 2010

St. Paul Capital Collective

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

The dramatic central lobby of Landmark Center provided a perfect stage for a runway show tonight, featuring fall fashion from several St. Paul boutiques. Too bad more shoppers weren’t there to see it. (Especially fun to see vintage Lula ensembles look so modern, and every Minnesota man should take a style cue from BlackBlue.) Tickets for the St. Paul Capital Collective show were $40, which is a lot, even as a benefit for downtown improvement groups. So, there are kinks to work out. But producer and tireless supporter of local retail Richard Moody is determined to bring this show back, bigger and better, next year. St. Paul finally has enough fashionable boutiques to make it work so east side shoppers, prepare  to represent!

Pale Rider

Monday, September 27th, 2010

One of the most promising events to come out of fall MNfashion Week was Pale Rider – the first fashion show produced by the MNfashion organization at their space in Northeast Minneapolis. It featured the collections of two local designers, Danielle Everine and Raul Osorio. The raw concrete lobby space of the lofted building was transformed into a sexy-chic fashion venue with just some strategically placed sheer curtains, lighting and a long runway. But what really made the space and the show come to life was the crowd – more than 200 young fashion admirers, eclectically dressed to the nines. I was blown away by the size of the crowd and how fabulous everyone looked. I sat next to Anna Lee – the outgoing executive director of MNfashion. Yes, outgoing. The woman who gave birth to an organized Twin Cities fashion scene is ready to move on. She says seeing an event like Pale Rider come together with the help of hundreds of volunteers gives her confidence that the organization can be strong without her. It is the hope of Lee and MNfashion to turn the space at 79 13th Ave. N.E. into fashion week headquarters – our own little Bryant Park – where fashion shows would go on throughout the week. The infrastructure, the enthusiasm – it’s all there. Let’s hope there are enough designers who can live up to it – and grow beyond it.

Nigel Barker: Sexy shopper

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Ali and Nigel Barker at Mall of America. Photo by Scott Takushi, Pioneer Press

America’s Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker and I were in the Mall of America offices this evening trying to decide where to shop before his book signing appearance. He started ticking off his favorite places to hit for his wife: Catherine Malandrino, Jimmy Choo, La Perla. Dreamiest husband ever, to be sure. But I had to bring him down to our Midwestern reality. Would you settle for Burberry or Hugo Boss? He did – and affably shopped Janie and Jack for his kids, too. My favorite moment came while paying for a toy at the Nickelodeon Universe store when a cashier recognized him and sheepishly confirmed, “Nigel?” Then she asked for some ID. Get the whole story in my “Shopping With…” column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, Oct. 3.

Gone like the wind

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

StormSister Spatique is packing up its moisturizers and closing its St. Paul boutique at the end of October. After four years of trying to make it work in her west side neighborhood, Becky Sturm is tired. She held on through the worst of the recession, but says she’s found little support from community banks and business organizations. It’s yet another reminder that we have to support the shops that make our city cool and unique if we want them to be around. StormSister Spatique will live on online, which is where it started and has always been the bigger business. And stay tuned: Sturm is developing a beauty product of her own. With her industry smarts and passion for all things pretty, you know it’s going to be good.

Happy Birthday to me

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Always nice to receive a gift card in the mail, but how extremely fun to have one from Anthropologie come zipped in this:

It’s all in the details!

The modern way to wear leg warmers (really)

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

It’s one thing to write about fashion, quite another to have a knack for mixing it all up. I was wowed by the ensembles stylist Allison Werthmann-Radnich put together at today’s fall fashion shoot for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She is seriously passionate about fashion (don’t mess with her vision for Balengiaga paired with not one but two pair of vintage gloves), but understands what real women want, and how to make them look their very best. Watch as she finds a creative use for leg warmers that won’t have you looking like you’re headed to a Flashdance reunion party. See the fall fashion section in the newspaper on Sept. 26.

A conversation with Tim Gunn

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Tim Gunn was waiting for me in the green room at the Mall of America when I arrived this evening, a half hour before he was scheduled to appear in the MOA Rotunda where more than 200 fashion followers waited to meet him. I reminded him we’d had a lovely and lengthy phone conversation before his last visit to the Twin Cities and he immediately grabbed my hand and exclaimed “I remember!” Now, I’m not sure it was the most polite response but I couldn’t help it: “Yeah, right,” I chided. “No, I do,” he insisted. “Minneapolis is near and dear to my heart. My agent is from here and I think it’s just a wonderful city.” Charmed, of course. It’s impossible to emphasize enough how utterly likable Tim Gunn truly is. Talking to him is like visiting with your favorite college professor, which is exactly what he is. He speaks thoughtfully, he listens intently and he is incredibly humble – seeming almost embarrassed when I reminded him, “You’re Tim Gunn!” And because of that, he did not get to shop the MOA on this his very first visit. But he did get a K-9 division escort to the stage. Read my interview with Gunn – including the repercussions of his dishy new book “Gunn’s Golden Rules,” in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, Sept. 19.

Dishing DC Housewives

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Jason Backe wears a lot of hats (if he didn’t, his bald head might get cold): hair colorist to the stars, including Anne Hathaway and Renee Zellweger, co-owner of the Ted Gibson Salon in NY and DC, L’oreal spokesman, social networker and lately, honorary housewife on “Real Housewives of D.C.” He’s at the side of those self-absorbed, but well-tressed ladies every time I flip to Bravo lately, so I called my fellow Minnesota native for the scoop. Listen in on our entire conversation, which aired on Shop Girls, myTalk 107.1 on Saturday, Sept. 11.

He was part of the show before some of the housewives: Backe was working on Mary Schmidt Amons’ hair when she got a call from Bravo asking her to participate. The show has been a huge boon to the Ted Gibson Salon, which opened in D.C. just a couple of years ago. Let’s just say no other advertising is needed right now to fill the chairs. “The response has been great. We are raising the bar for beauty in D.C.”

And about reality TV, Backe offers these insights:

  • Editing doesn’t change the story, but it does make it entertaining: “What they show is not necessarily in sequential order. They might insert an eye roll or a smirk from a completely different conversation to emphasize a point.
  • Even a mother can be fooled: “My mom called and said I was so rude to that store owner when I said (in an episode) “nice barware” when she used plastic cups. In reality, I was teasing a friend. I never would have said that to someone I just met.
  • The housewives lives really are that dramatic: “Oh, it really is like that.”
  • What you meet is not what you get with White House crashers Michaele and Tereq Salahi: “They make a really great first impression. When we first met, we had a blast. Michaele is charismatic, really easy to chat with. Her husband is…odd, difficult to have a conversation with…What guests do outside of the salon is not up to me, but she had a certain sense of entitlement and didn’t want to pay bills. That’s what we’re in business for. She doesn’t come to the salon anymore.”

Men who shop

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Baldwin Denim

Men can roll their skinny jeans, show some hairy ankle above shiny loafers, wear a tie on a Saturday without being told to and still look macho. I witnessed it over the weekend at the first ever NorthernGRADE Men’s Market at Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis. The event showcased American-made brands both modern and classic including Baldwin Denim and Taylor Stitch shirts and Duluth Pack and Fox River Socks.  It was like entering an alternative universe where the men were the best dressed and the primary shoppers. And lots of them were straight!

Walker Lamond, author and hopeless prep

Walker Lamond was there. The author of “Rules for My Unborn Son” wore cropped khakis, a navy blazer, blue button down, plaid tie and horn rimmed glasses. The husband and new dad copped to dressing that way even when not signing books. “I’ve been preppy since college,” he said. “Now it’s cool!”

Fashion’s Night Out in MN

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Suzy Martin's Lash Bar at June in Minneapolis

Success! Twin Cities retailers went out of their way to make Fashion’s Night Out an event in Minnesota, and it worked. June designer resale boutique was buzzing at 6 p.m. with stylist extraordinaire Gwen Leeds helping shoppers find their perfect vintage piece and makeup artist Suzy Martin doing free false eyelashes. At the Galleria, which got into FNO in the biggest way locally, the stores that had events were busy – much busier than a typical

Hammitt handbags CEO Tony Drockton at Pumpz & Co., Galleria, Edina

Friday night, several owners told me. I heard a couple of shoppers complain that the incentives weren’t that great, but they missed the concept of Fashion’s Night Out. It’s a night to have fun shopping and celebrate fashion. Arafina, Pumpz & Co. and Len Druskin were among the stores that did that by bringing in designers for trunk shows. I asked Tony Drockton, CEO of hot handbag line Hammitt, how he made the decision to spend Fashion’s Night Out at Pumpz & Company rather than a store with greater national recognition in L.A. or New York. “They asked,” he said, adding that his bags sell extremely well in Edina.

StyledLife, Galleria

StyledLife did fashion seminars and kept customers entertained in between with great music, wine and candy. One of the most popular attractions, hosted by Len Druskin, was the visual display of life-size sculptures straight out of the book “Lemonade for the Lawn Boy,” and a book signing by the local author/artist David Cook. It had a fashion element to it – the sculptures of characters from the book are quite fabulous – but the event wasn’t about buying. It was simply fun and entertaining and a good reminder that stores can be a great place to gather. And if such a gathering calls for new shoes, there they are! | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved