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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for August, 2011

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Athleta Picks MN Location

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Fitness over food! There’s been much speculation about what would take the place of Ann Taylor Loft at the coveted southwest corner of 50th & France. Several local boutiques looked at the space, but couldn’t afford it, and there was some talk about a restaurant. I’m happy to report that upscale fitness brand Athleta is taking the spot. Nothing against the food industry – I just think 50th already has a robust dining scene, and adding another store–especially one new to the Twin Cities–makes this shopping district even more desirable. It’s also nice to see a chain pick a neighborhood location over a mall.

Known primarily for its catalog/website, Athleta was purchased by Gap Inc. in 2008 and is now aggressively opening stores, with eight to 10 openings nationwide planned for this year. (Watch out, Lululemon–and at 50th, Title Nine.) Athleta offers chic active apparel for yoga, hiking, golf, triathlon, travel, and more. Coming soon to 5001 France Ave. S., Mpls.

Houndstooth in Eden Prairie

Monday, August 29th, 2011

If you can make it selling upscale fashion in Savage, then Eden Prairie should be a breeze. Popular women’s boutique Houndstooth has opened a second location near Eden Prairie Center. It’s a huge, raw space bordered by racks featuring Current/Elliott, Hudson and J Brand jeans, flowy tops by Joie and Alice + Olivia, and flats and wedges by Sam Edelman. Owner Amber Toste is planning to bring in some higher end lines specifically for the Eden Prairie location, including 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alice Temperley. I think the local ladies are going to love this boutique, once they find it (across the lot from the mall, past the McDonald’s, near Party City) in the maze that is Eden Prairie. 582 Prairie Center Drive #223, Eden Prairie, 952.261.2974

Cobra Society Trunk Show

Sunday, August 28th, 2011
She grew up in Minnetonka, interned for Stella McCartney in London, studied in Morocco and Paris, and currently lives in Los Angeles. But on Monday, up and coming designer Alex Davis returns home to Minneapolis for a trunk show of Cobra Society, her debut collection of designer boots, which has already been embraced by fine boutiques around the world, including Pumpz & Co. at the Galleria. Inspired by North African culture, Davis uses Kilim fabrics on the shaft of each boot, woven by female rug artisans from a village in Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains. No two pair are alike. She combines the fabrics with Italian vegetable tanned leathers for a look that expertly blends classic western style with global influence.
The boots come in four heights, three color schemes, and have a slouchy shape with a stacked heel. Prices range from $795 to $1,195.
Meet the designer and shop the collection Monday, Aug. 29 from 1 to 10 p.m. (cocktail reception starts at 6 p.m.) at International Market Square, 275 Market St., Mpls., Studio 185.
If you can’t make it, shop Cobra Society online at

Shops Is About To Drop

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I’m extremely excited to reveal the 2012 cover of Shops, featuring six Twin Cities men as charming as they are stylish. (It’s a rough job I’ve got, I know.) We go beyond the necktie to show you a side of Frank Vascellaro you just don’t get on the evening news – premium denim and all. He’s joined by salon owner Denny Kemp, businessman Tom Wicka, celeb bodyguard provider Elijah Shaw, my favorite young Timberwolves player Wes Johnson, and musician Jeremy Messersmith – how can you not love a rocker who rocks a bow tie? Inside the issue, you’ll also find fall fashion, cool products, beauty tips, celebrity shopping haunts, and updated listings of more than 800 local stores. Shops is included with the September issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Don’t go shopping without it!

At our cover shoot at Room & Board…

How to take the tension out of an interview: conduct it on a bed…

Len at MOA

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Len, the value-oriented offshoot of trendy Galleria-based retailer Len Druskin, opens its fourth location today at Mall of America – third level, near Nordstrom. Find contemporary, casual apparel for women and men at reasonable prices. The other Len stores are at Southdale, Rosedale and City Center.

New Boutique: Juniper

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Yes, you can expect a finely tuned boutique experience without paying a premium. Introducing Juniper, now open at Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. From whimsical dresses to gauzy crewnecks, you’ll find fresh looks—mostly priced less than $100. Perfect for the shopper ready to graduate from American Eagle, or the Anthropologie girl who wants to save a few bucks. Plus: check out the locally made art on the walls and accessories table.

Project Runway Ousts MN Designer

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Danielle Everine got her walking papers tonight on Project Runway after judges tore into her for what Nina Garcia described as a lousy chiffon blouse. But it wasn’t just the one blouse. What cinched it was a series of unmemorable designs. Everine, whose reserved demeanor didn’t help her win sympathy votes, kept her cool. In her parting comments, she said she didn’t think her design was the worst and she knows she’s a good designer. No doubt, she does have potential – she made the show. But I do hope she takes the critique from the Project Runway pros to heart and uses this experience to grow. Confidence is good. Over-confidence, not as much. Wonder if Target wants her back?

While Kim Kardashian was busy tending to wedding details, I got to hang out with her then-fiance, NBA player Kris Humphries, at his home on Lake Minnetonka, where we shot the cover of the September issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. You can see pics of the house where Kim has been chilling on frequent visits to the Twin Cities, and read about Humphries’ design vision (hint: Hitch) and hometown pastimes in the September issue – on newsstands next week. But here are some of the topics we discussed during our five hour photo shoot (the guy insisted on changing his shirt for every shot…).

Marrying Kim. “You get that feeling you’ve never felt about anyone before – that you’re so excited to be with someone.”

His parents’ reaction to the proposal. “My parents got married within a year of meeting each other. I’m at an age where I have to live my life. They raised me well.”

Kids. “Isn’t that what everyone wants?”

Life with a reality star. “I’m still who I was before. I enjoy life.” As for the cameras? “That’s just the nature of being with Kim.”

Where they’ll live. “We haven’t focused on that.”

Reality TV. “In my experience, it’s very authentic.”

Hidden talent. A ping pong table is the centerpiece of Humphries’ dining room – and he’s not messing around. “I’m the best ping pong player that hasn’t played in any league,” he said modestly.

In the fridge. Lots of fresh fruit, carrots, and Kim’s Ritual Cleanse organic juice. (Humphries did let our one of our crew members take a bottle, but jokingly warned she better not waste it – or “Kim will be mad.”)

Master bath. The counter is so high, Kim might need a stool. Custom made for the 6-foot-9 baller? “No, it just came that way,” Humphries marveled. The home, which he bought new about five years ago, was built on spec.

In the garage. A white Mercedes S550. (His Twin Cities Mercedes dealer attended Humphries’ Fourth of July bash on the rooftop of Seven.)

Viewing habits. Before meeting Kim, Humphries says he’d only seen snippets of her show. His favorites include The Office and Seinfeld.

Average off-season day - pre-wedding. When the NBA season ends, Humphries waits out the end of winter at his condo in South Beach. “I like Miami – the ocean, I’ve got a lot of friends there.” When it gets warm, he heads to Minnesota where he usually starts the day with an early morning workout at Lifetime Fitness in Chanhassen (he enjoys working out with former NBA players Chris Carr and Trent Tucker when possible, and also likes to mix in martial arts). Summer afternoons are usually spent at home or out on his boat, fishing with his dad or napping. Evenings are for poker. “I surround myself with pretty legitimate people.”

Mr. Fashionista. Kim’s got him trained: Humphries immediately zeroed in on the Louboutins on the cover of the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine July issue, which he flipped through at our cover shoot. We also discussed his new-found preference for wearing a suit without a belt. “It’s much sexier.” For that perfectly exquisite slim fit, Humphries orders custom suits by Scott Hill Bespoke Designs in Los Angeles. “I’ve definitely had more reasons to wear suits lately,” he said. “That’s what happens when you’re engaged to a fashion icon.”

Free agent = Timberwolves? “There’s more to the sport than, ‘I’m from Minnesota; I want to play there.’ The best fit isn’t always where you’re from. You really have to look at the team – situation and fit. It’s a business.”

St. Cloud. Really? Visiting one of his Five Guys franchises isn’t the only reason Humphries brought Kim to St. Cloud, about an hour outside of the Twin Cities. His grandparents live there. He often stops by, with burgers.

Hometown pride. No matter where he lives or who he plays for, Humphries said he’ll always root for the Vikings and Twins.

Maria Rivolta Moving to MOA

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

One step forward, another step back for Southdale.

The struggling Edina mall recently scored a victory in signing Michael Kors (opening planned for holiday time), which will also open at Mall of America in September. (Guess MK is hot on the southwest metro – it’s surprising to see a retailer open stores at MOA and Southdale back to back.) Francesca’s Collections is also coming to Southdale in early 2012 and Herberger’s is scheduled to open in early November.

Meanwhile, local retailer Marge Schwab just announced she is moving her little gem, Maria Rivolta, from Southdale to MOA (the mall started wooing her soon after she opened last year). The last day to shop the affordably priced Argentinian jewelry line – known for mixed material and color – is Tuesday, Aug. 30. The new store will open at MOA, first level, outside Bloomingdale’s, on Oct. 1.

Before heading to California for her little brother’s wedding (News flash: there was a WEDDING over the weekend!), Kaela Humphries went shopping at her favorite Twin Cities boutique: Covered in Uptown.

It’s good to have friends in retail when you’re keeping up with the Kardashians. Humphries’ bestie Bridget works at Covered, and has helped her plan outfits for the many events (and plane rides) she’s attended since her brother, NBA player Kris Humphries, started courting Kim Kardashian. Kaela Humphries’ other essential shopping resource: Nordstrom, where she used to work. Sondra at Nordstrom Mall of America is the go-to personal shopper for Humphries and her mom.

“I don’t need to stand out; I just want to be appropriate,” says Humphries, a successful medical sales rep who also models (yep, that’s her pic hanging in Kohl’s stores and on

Humphries has mastered the art of switching up her accessories. “Covered has a lot of vintage jewelry and belts – I’ve worn the same dress 100 times and changed the belt, the purse.”

And the lip. “I used to just do a nude lip or lipgloss. But when you’re recycling outfits and trying to get different looks – for five or six events in one day . . . I threw on a red lip.” Her new fave: Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain.

As for her bridesmaid dress, well, she’s sworn to secrecy until the E! wedding special airs in October. She did tell me that among the many celebrity guests at the wedding, two that she most enjoyed meeting were from the fashion world: clothing designer Rachel Roy and the designer of Kardashian’s engagement ring, Lorraine Schwartz. But mostly, Humphries says she was “surrounded by friends and family and caught up in the moment.”

She flew the red-eye back to Minneapolis, arriving just in time to go to work Monday, so Humphries has yet to see this week’s Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s episode, in which her brother goes on vaca to Bora Bora with Kim’s family. “My parents have them TiVo’ed, so I’ll probably sit down and watch a bunch at some point.”

After all, this is the brother she “did everything with” growing up, including swimming and playing basketball. “He used to be introverted,” Humphries says of Kris. “He’s kind of funny these days.”

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