I was in Palm Beach last week, strolling from Hermes to Chanel, discovering hidden gems down each achingly charming Mediterranean via on the famed Worth Avenue when I got an email from Mall of America announcing a trio of new designer stores, including Michael Kors. I always get excited about retail arrivals for the Twin Cities – especially proven performers like A|X Armani Exchange that are finally realizing we’re not all farms and igloos in the Land of Lakes. I’ve been feeling good about MOA’s momentum – they’ve tried many times throughout the years to attract luxury – or at least, upscale – retail, and finally, they seem to be making headway.
Then I visited Town Center in Boca Raton, and not only do they have virtually every upscale store at or coming to MOA, they have dozens more. Henri Bendel. Cartier. Bvlgari. CH Carolina Herrera. Vince. That’s in addition to five department stores which carry those lines, and many, many more. Town Center is a Simon mall – just like, and absolutely nothing like, Southdale. (Imagine Simon giving Edina a Saks Fifth Avenue rather than a Herberger’s!) We might be home to the nation’s first mall, and the biggest, but we’re still in Minnesota, and we’re always going to have to fight for our designer dresses. At least we appreciate them when we have them – just ask Monique Lhuillier.
Our underdog fashion status makes the local boutiques that much more important in the Twin Cities. They give us what our department stores (beside Nordstrom) don’t think we’re worthy of. At Saks in Boca, you find racks of Cut25, the Yigal Azrouel diffusion line (pictured, left). Here, you’ll find it at Grethen House. Bumbershute has lines like MikeGonzalez that you sure won’t find at our sorry Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s. OPM, Arafina, Allee Metro Chic and BlackBlue are just a few of the other Twin Cities boutiques introducing Minnesota to new, buzzed-about lines, even when the malls and chains are not.
At least we have Target. I’m especially anxious for next month’s launch of Calypso St. Barth for Target after visiting the Calypso store in Palm Beach (pictured, right) – there, Calypso’s $150 tops and $350 dresses seem like the Gap compared to the brand’s ultra luxury neighbors. Calypso is the epitome of island chic – so breezy, so effortlessly sexy – the billowy blouses in orange, pink or ocean blue, the breezy dresses – I wanted one of everything. Of course, an ocean and 90 sunny degrees do make for ideal accessories.
Calypso for Target will launch on May 1. I’ve previewed the look book, and it is extremely promising (sometimes I think Target would be better off with lesser quality photography – then so many of its designer collaborations might not be as disappointing in person): There are beachy tops, fashionable coverups, long sundresses in chic neutrals and summery brights and prints. If the dresses don’t fit, the jewelry, sandals, totes and even the tableware look desirable too. Worth Avenue, it’s not. But then, neither am I, the other 51 weeks of the year. So, I’ll wear the Target version, and save my pennies for another week on the beach (and maybe, if it rains, a couple of hours at the stores) with my family.