A new BCBG concept, Lola, opened at Mall of America over the weekend. It’s the first storefront for this youthful fast fashion concept. Prices are extremely reasonable: $30 for a shirt dress or sweater, some tops under $10. The boutique is more manageable than competitors like Forever 21 or H&M, and more narrowly focused on cool-girl clubby trends. I’d go back for a fitted jacket, jewelry, perhaps some layering pieces, but I was disappointed not to find more BCBG-style dresses at lower price points. Then, I’m considerably older than Lola.

He didn’t serenade me with an acoustic version of Jessie’s Girl (“You have to pay for that”), but I’ll forgive my childhood crush Rick Springfield because he was so candid, so interesting and so game during our time together yesterday. And we did spend a good bit of time: First he came to the myTalk 107.1 studios to appear on Shop Girls. “Is this live?” he asked as his music began to roll. It was – and my co-host Alexis Walsko and I really got him talking, and even laughing – clearly not his comfort zone. Eat your heart out, Barbara Walters, Rick talked to the Shop Girls about his wife’s reaction to his book which details his many, many illicit trysts (she doesn’t want to read it and is on a spa retreat to escape the media glare), his future writing plans (novels, healthy living guide – sky’s the limit), his work out regimen at a “ladies gym” in Malibu – alongside Matthew McConaughey and Pierce Brosnan, and what he has in common with Paris Hilton. We also hit on the serious side of the memoir – Rick’s lifelong battle with depression.  Hear the full interview.
Then it was on to Mall of America where Rick signed copies of his new memoir “Late Late at Night.” I asked him what it’s like to have groupies show up in t-shirts emblazoned with his face. “I don’t think of them as groupies,” he said. “Groupies are girls who come backstage and want to have sex. They’re fans. And it’s nice.” Ok, then!
After two hours of autographs, Rick and I went shopping. For all the celebs that are “muchtoobusy” to give me 20 minutes, Rick was quite willing to spend more than that: he wanted to go “shop” for vintage cars (his fleet includes a ‘63 Corvette) or hit an animal shelter (no kidding- I spent three weeks back and forth with his publicity team trying to arrange this around his schedule, mine and the limited hours of far away car places). But he also wanted to get back to writing and get to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for dinner, so we settled for book browsing at Barnes & Noble and talked about everything from Star Wars to sinking ships to Sci-Fi. A parent to two boys, just like me, he promised I would one day again have the time to read. You can read all about my shopping escapades with Rick Springfield in the Pioneer Press on Sunday, Oct. 24.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled updates on boutique shopping and clothes to bring you this stunning, Made in the USA hardwood floor from Wisconsin-based Stang-Lund:

Oh, I’m still shopping, but truth be told, I haven’t one new pair of boots this fall and am in dire need of sweaters because hardwood floors have become my obsession. We’re doing a room for the first time in, well, ever, and while I could pick a dress with one eye closed, I’m finding myself confoundedly indecisive on home design decisions. Started out thinking I wanted dark dark floors, but after numerous warnings about the difficult upkeep (scratches, dust more obvious), plus the issue of trying to add light to the room without adding windows, which I can’t afford, I started gravitating lighter. I fell for (falling on would have been cheaper) a whitewashed oak on the Parade of Homes tour (I go to torture myself). It’s cool, casual and little bit rustic, but the overall impact is entirely contemporary. The key is the white/gray undertone and getting rid of the yellow/orange hues that pervade Home Depot’s flooring department….and the rest of my house. Good taste is a curse: apparently whitewashed pre-finished floors are an emerging trend, currently available only in high end lines. I’ve been told by numerous flooring resources it will likely take a year or two before the finish trickles down to budget brands. Buying unfinished and trying to achieve the look could be even more expensive, I’m told. Where is the H&M of hardwood floors when you need it? I’m a shopper on a mission. My contractor had no idea what he was signing up for.

The Mall of America is a lot of things – biggest shopping center in the nation, one of the busiest tourist destinations in the country, home of the SpongeBob roller coaster – but a place of Zen, it is not. Or at least it wasn’t. Powerhouse yoga retailer Lululemon opens at MOA on Friday, Oct. 15 and will show off its sculpted booty in the mall rotunda Sunday for an 8 am. yoga session led by phillyd’s Inspirational Hip Hop Yoga. Imagine how well equipped you’ll be to handle the line at Nordstrom Rack after that.

Shop Girls co-hosts Alexis Walsko and Ali Kaplan with Nick Verreos on myTalk107.1

An October visit to the Twin Cities was supposed to give “Project Runway” alum and L.A.-based TV personality/fashion critic Nick Verreos an opportunity to layer, so the weekend’s unexpectedly balmy weather threw him. He ditched the coat and scarf, but stuck with his Top Shop jacket, H&M shirt and Zara white jeans as planned for his Macy’s appearance…with the YSL boots and Gucci belt that cost more than the entire ensemble (several times over).

We covered a ton of ground during Nick’s appearance on Shop Girls, myTalk 107.1: red carpet critiques, stylist Jen Rade’s run-in with Fergie, his new TV Guide Network show, “Project Runway” dish- listen to the whole interview here. One of the more interesting topics was fame and the role it’s played in his career. Back when he was on Project Runway in Season 2, Nick says he didn’t do it for celebrity; he did it hoping to drum up orders for his line, Nikolaki. He’s gotten more TV jobs than dress orders, but every bit helps. “This is not the path I planned out,” he said, “But I’m still getting the calls to do fashion – a prom dress line, appearances at Macy’s, celebrity orders. I’m pinching myself every day.”

No longer being able to shop or walk through an airport without getting hit up for advice is a price he’s willing to pay. But if you run into the caffeinated designer and he compliments your ensemble, don’t get too cocky. “I’m really thinking you should not have worn those Crocs, honey.” Nick didn’t hold back with our radio engineer Paul Black (better known as producer of the Ian & Margery Show on myTalk 107.1). “That is a really long crotch,” he said of Black’s light wash jeans. See for yourself:

After Paul got over the surprise and sting, he agreed. You’ve got to be prepared when you work with the Shop Girls. Can’t wait to see if Paul finds himself the prescribed dark wash low rise denim before our next live broadcast.

J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler is a big fan of Red Wing Shoes - the first outside brand he brought in to what is now a substantial heritage collection. But that admiration does not extend to every style – like the ones favored by Red Wing Shoes CEO David Murphy. While interviewing Murphy for today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press article on how Minnesota brands are benefiting from the American heritage trend in fashion, I asked him about the recent New Yorker profile that detailed Drexler’s visit to Red Wing Shoes headquarters. Murphy said he showed Drexler his favorite boot, the 2156 hiker (pictured.) Drexler’s unapologetic response: “Leave that to the designers.” Nor was Drexler impressed by the World’s Biggest Boot on display at the Red Wing Shoes retail store in the company’s home town. “He wants it to be a lot more hip,” Murphy said. The New Yorker piece quoted Drexler offering to help Murphy open a store in Manhattan. Murphy says retail is not a focus for Red Wing Shoes, but the brand likely will get to New York in the next few years. And when that time does come, Murphy said he will definitely take up Drexler, widely regarded as a retail superstar, on his offer. He’s got it in print.

The annual Thymes Warehouse Sale in Minneapolis is a shopping phenomenon – the likes of which most retailers and brands only dream of: lines an hour long, parking a half mile away – amazing what bargain hunters will put up with to get lotion and soap for 50 to 80 percent off. Here’s what they say:

Twin Cities salon chain Spalon Montage reacted swiftly to reports that the uber trendy Brazilian Blowout hair smoothing treatment contains formaldehyde. The company denies the report, by the Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology. Nevertheless, Spalon has suspended the service – citing safety concerns for clients and employees. Accolades Salon in St. Paul also switched to competing keratin treatments, owner Brad Schlaeger said, after employees began complaining about eye irritation from working with the product.

Gap invites shoppers to Recycle their Blues now through Oct. 20. Bring in old jeans to be recycled into UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Housing Insulation for communities in need and receive a 30 percent discount on 1969 Premium Jeans. Become a Gap Facebook Fan for an extra 10 percent off. Last March, when Gap did its first ever national denim drive, more than 270,000 pairs of jeans were collected – providing insulation for 500 homes.