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Archive for March, 2011

Christopher Straub for Maurices

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Minnesota’s favorite Project Runway alum Christopher Straub is working on product design for maurices, the Duluth-based, self-described “small town” chain that outfits young women, sizes 1 to 24. Straub is kicking off his collaboration by judging maurices’ Main Street Model Search. The retailer is looking for a dozen girls nationwide to be photographed for an ad campaign in their hometowns. “Maurices contacted me because we share the same home town philosophy,” says Straub, a Shakopee resident.

Can’t wait? Get a fix April 23 at the Sol Inspirations Eco Fashion Gala. Christopher and fellow “Project Runway” contestant Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman are among the local designers creating looks out of non-traditional, recycled and sustainable fabrics. “Project Runway” Season 7 winner Seth Aaron Henderson will headline the event at The Depot. More information here.

Notes from a Saturday at MOA

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Spent the better part of Saturday at Mall of America, starting with a live broadcast of Shop Girls” at the Operation Glass Slipper Princess Event, including a visit to Sea Life Minnesota, and ending with a mad dash through DSW some nine hours later. Here’s what I learned:

People start lining up for Rainforest Cafe at 10:30 a.m. No wonder it’s so challenging to get in at dinner time.

Nordstrom is “going green,” offering to email customer receipts rather than printing it out. (They have long put a return sticker on every item at point of purchase, so the receipt isn’t really needed for returns anyway.

J. Crew has decided not to offer its swim collection at any of its Twin Cities stores this spring. Shortsighted – the cold makes Minnesotans all the more likely to take a beach vacation. And finding the perfect swimsuit is difficult enough without guessing online.

If you want to shop Nordstrom Rack on a busy Saturday, make it your first stop, while you have the patience to deal with the crowd, lines and assorted odors.

Pays to buy tickets in advance to the new Sea Life Minnesota – you save $5 each by ordering online, and you get to enter through an express lane. Now, whether or not admission is worth the $14.99 in advance ($19.99 at the door) is another question. The name isn’t all that’s changed: The mall aquarium, now run by Merlin Entertainment Group, just completed a major renovation that includes a new stingray exhibit, an enormous Poseidon figure in the shark tank, new sea creatures, and more educational elements. The good: The stingray tank at the new entryway (they flipped the entrance and exit) is cool – it’s at eye level for kids and includes a deck that allows you to walk over the stingrays. The jellyfish exhibit is striking, the sea horses are so cute, and the shark cove that lets you to experience sharks, stingrays and sawfish swimming overhead is still awesome (and seems longer somehow). The bad: The new “hands-on submarine play area” is ill-conceived. First of all, it’s aimed at a very narrow population of 2 to 5 year olds, which is an accident waiting to happen for bigger who still have the urge to climb. Second, the play structure is crammed in a corner near the exit with little space for strollers – something virtually every person stopping there is going to have. Ultimately, even with the added features, aquarium admission still seems pricey. It’s a great addition to a mall visit, but not a day’s outing, like going to some of the other museums in town. For an aquarium in the basement of a mall, it’s mighty impressive. But even with the slow moving crowd in front of us, we were done in around 90 minutes.

The Barnes & Noble Cafe is a wonderful respite from the chaos of the mall rotunda (and offers quiche and soft pretzels and other snacks beyond the usual Starbucks baked goods.

Entering the mall off of I-494 on Killebrew Drive is always faster than Lindau Lane. But parking near Nordstrom is entirely more civilized than the east side lots.

Matthew Williamson for Macy’s

Friday, March 11th, 2011

From the Matthew Williamson for Macy's ad campaign, debuting Tuesday.

Okay, I won’t make you wait until the April issue to find out what WWD reported today (I had been sworn to secrecy in order to get the scoop early enough for the magazine deadline): Matthew Williamson will be the second in Macy’s designer capsule collection series. The line, which launches April 13 in 225 Macy’s stores, and on, will include embellished day and party dresses, printed scarves, and day-to-evening rompers priced from $50 to $150 (a few leather and suede items will be as much as $300). “The collection aims to capture the essence of the mainline brand, with a focus on effortless glamour; dynamic prints; loosely structured silhouettes and pops of strong color,” Williamson told WWD.

It’s the best sign yet that Macy’s is serious about winning back young, fashion oriented customers. British designer Kinder Aggugini was the first in the designer capsule series – his flowery, retro spring dresses are currently on the floor at select Macy’s including Southdale. Karl Lagerfeld will follow Williamson in the series, WWD reported.

Macy’s also recently launched Bar III private label contemporary apparel for women and men.

Macy’s Spring Designer Event

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

This charmingly bright and stunningly architectural (it literally bounces when you walk) Issey Miyaki dress epitomized the print/pattern trend we highlighted Thursday night at Macy’s Spring Designer Event in the Oval Room of the downtown Minneapolis store. I had the fun assignment of hosting the event, a benefit for Fashion Group International of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Other key trends we hit on for Spring 2011:

  • White on white. Worn top to bottom, with white accessories. (Paired with nude/natural sandals).
  • Pop of color. The turquoise dress. The orange bag. Vibrant hues stand alone, get accessorized and even mixed together, for those who like a bold statement.
  • Bohemian/’70s influences. Long dresses, crocheted details, funky prints, soft and flowy silhouettes.
  • Chain jewelry. You can keep layering, but for spring, the strands are chunkier.
  • Naturals. You need nude heels and wedges. The models wore them with everything.
  • Old Glory. That’s Macy’s-speak for what I like to call…navy. But then, I’m just a simple girl. A backstage look at this summer perennial:

Say Cheese…Or, Don’t Pick Your Nose

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Photographer phenom Liz Banfield shoots weddings around the country and has a beautiful book to show for it, called, fittingly, Weddings. But when she’s not capturing brides, she’s often photographing kids – for Target ads, Real Simple magazine and other commercial and editorial clients. A mom herself, Liz has recently been blogging about child modeling, since so many parents think they want to get their children into it. Not me. I just wanted a few good pictures of my boys, ages 6 and almost 3, that did not involve an elbow in the lens. Liz invited us to her South Minneapolis studio to offer some pointers:

  • Capture the energy rather than attempting to stifle it. Rather than sitting the boys on the sofa, Liz told them to jump over it (years of training down the drain in seconds). The resulting smiles were better than anything you’d get by saying “cheese.”
  • Get on their level. Literally – get down and get right in their faces. And mentally – the second Liz broke into potty humor, she became a hero to my giggling boys.
  • Coordinate clothes, but don’t match. Solid colors generally photograph best, especially in vivid hues – Liz preferred a cobalt blue over navy.
  • Turn off the auto flash. Natural light always looks better
  • Press the shutter down half way and wait for your moment. Kids move fast, and you want to avoid the typical delay associated with digital cameras.

Lucky for me, pictures don’t actually speak a thousand words. Watch what happened when the video camera was rolling. Really makes you appreciate Liz’s talent. (I promised we wouldn’t return until it’s time for graduation pics):

Naartjie Kids Coming to MOA

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Naartjie Kids will open its first Midwest store at Mall of America in April. I know that will make some online shoppers happy. Naartjie is known for its playful, kid-friendly fashions: Mix and match prints, vibrant colors, natural fabrics, and a soft, casual feel. Bonus for parents: Affordable pricing. The brand was started in the ’90s by a mother of three boys in Cape Town, South Africa who wanted an alternative to the basics that dominated the market at the time. Naartjie (pronounced nar chee) is an Afrikaans word for a “small, sweet citrus fruit” found in Africa. Naartjie Kids is now an international brand with stores in 30 countries, producing 11 collections a year that include clothes, accessories, and footwear for ages newborn through 10 years old.

Stay tuned: This is the first of at least a half dozen new store announcements coming from Mall of America this spring. I’m told the list consists of several stores new to the market – including luxury and European brands.

Kuhlman Resurfaces as Scott James

Monday, March 7th, 2011

You just can’t stop Minneapolis resident Scott Kuhlman from making men’s clothes. He made a name for himself in 2006 with simple, fashion forward men’s shirt stores. The chain quickly spread across the country, and just as quickly, crumbled, having over-extended. Kuhlman dusted off his flat front khakis, and started again in 2009 with s.kuhlman. Similar concept: European-styled men’s dress clothes at affordable price points, but a different business model. He opened a store in the Warehouse District…and then we didn’t hear much more. Until now. Kuhlman sold the company to Hampshire Group last May. Because there is another Scott Kuhlman with a clothing store in Seattle (go figure), they decided to rebrand as scott james (Kulhman’s middle name). Kuhlman says the new company is selling to specialty stores in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and soon, overseas.  ”The brand still represents the core I have always stood for: A European aesthetic, with great quality, and a price that is attainable.” Shirts sell for $75-$95. Shop scott james online.

Macy’s Beauty Impulse

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Macy’s is expanding its youthful, contemporary Impulse concept from fashion to beauty. A new Impulse Beauty department will showcase brands like Urban Decay, Stila, Too Faced, Essie and others. Mall of America will be the first (and so far only) location to get the new department. It is scheduled to open April 2 with a party, including beauty tips from pros and special gifts with purchase.

Meanwhile, Macy’s downtown Minneapolis store no longer carries Nanette Lepore. Nor does the “flagship” boast the new Bar III department for young shoppers. Increasingly, you’ve got to go to the ‘burbs to get the good stuff.

Glitz! Sale Store

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Glitz! isn’t waiting until after prom season to offer discounts. On Friday, the Mall of America special occasion retailer will open a sale store called Glitz! On Sale with nearly 1,000 gowns, separates and accessories for 30 to 50 percent off. The store, third level, east side at MOA, will be open through March and possibly into early April.

Ahhh. Smells Like Summer

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

I’m moisturizing my dry, pasty hands with the new Mandarin Coriander hand cream from Minneapolis-based Thymes. The blend of cold-pressed mandarin oil, just-peeled orange essence, and coriander is a welcome escape from winter. It’s fresh without overwhelming. The collection includes hand wash, lotion, home fragrance mist, all purpose cleaner and a sink set, all priced from $10 to $32. In stores now.

Locally, find the best selection at Garden of Eden, 867 Grand Ave., St. Paul – now home to the Thymes’ first store-with-in-a-store. | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved