And to think, I worried my sparkly eyeshadow was a little bit over the top. Leave it to stylist, dancer, dreamer Grant Whittaker to create an event that brings together burlesque dancers, pageant queens and upper crust clients from Edina boutique Grethen House N'Etc. The Fashion Ball at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis combined over-the-top dance numbers by Ballet of the Dolls with runway segments featuring some knock-out looks from Grethen House and J. Novachis. It was glittery, raw and irreverent, as only male dancers in wedding dresses and head-to-toe leopard print can be. Fun. Exactly what fashion should be.
Some tickets still remain for Saturday night's show.
Does Minnesota have enough The Situation-wannabes to support new arrival Republic of Couture? The small but growing Florida-based chain recently opened a sleek store at the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. It's big (albeit, wanting for more merchandise) and shiny and looks classy, but all I could think as I browsed the Ed Hardy tees, embellished night-clubby shirts and tricked out premium denim was Jersey Shore, mixed with 2009 Creep of the Year, Jon Gosselin. And I'm not sure guilty viewing translates into aspirational dressing. At least I hope it doesn't. I'm not saying don't go, just, if you do, limit yourself to a pair of William Rast jeans or one of the more understated (wishful thinking?) shirts. And balance it out with something J. Crew.
Grown-ups frequently complain that mall stores cater to teens. Yet one by one, the "grown-up" concepts introduced by the big three: Gap (Forth & Towne), Abercrombie & Fitch (Ruehl No. 925) and most recently, American Eagle's Martin + Osa, have failed. Do the chains not understand what post-college shoppers want to wear into their 30s and beyond? Or are those shoppers not buying what they say they want? With Martin + Osa, I'd say it's a bit of both. AE didn't skimp on the trappings at Martin + Osa: the dramatic wood store exterior, the musky scent, the spacious fitting rooms that are like an escape to the country. Perhaps they should have spent more time developing the look of the clothes. A little bit J. Crew, a little Banana - Martin + Osa offered some great basics (I own several), but failed to truly distinguish itself and connect with its intended customer base. That said, shoppers need to step out of their rut, stop complaining and consider the alternatives - or the alternatives disappear and we're left with ultra low rise skinny, relaxed cut capris and not a whole lot in between.
But not quite yet. Martin + Osa is still receiving new spring merchandise and stores, including the Mall of America location, will remain open until they sell through it (sale merch is currently and extra 30% off; jeans are $25 off). Stores will close by July or August - maybe sooner, as people discover Martin + Osa, now that it's getting some attention.
Sad shopper Mike asks: "Ali, Has Lava Lounge closed? I'm hoping they have just moved, but the store was boarded up today. What do you know?" Well, Mike, I know that Lava Lounge lasted much longer than most. I know that we must support our innovative, out-there boutiques or they won't last as long as Lava did. In their case, it was time to move on to a place warmer and well, fancier. Read about it here and see pics of the new Wil Stiles shop in Palm Springs here. Meanwhile, support our independent boutiques and hope there is another bold, funky, edgy, weird, hip, warm, savvy retailer waiting in the wings to take a chance and dazzle the Twin Cities.
Voltage: Fashion Amplified has announced the lineup for its April 16 show, which will kick off Spring MNfashionweek. The high-energy fashion and music event will feature designers Carmichael Claith, Geroge Moskal, PFT Couture, Raul Osorio and several other Twin Citians you probably haven't heard of...but perhaps should. I'll tell you more next week, when I attend the Voltage designer preview. For the first time, MNfashion is staging a private preview for retail buyers and media in hopes of getting these fledgling lines into stores by April so that Voltage can become a career launcher, rather than just another party. Got to respect that drive. Stay tuned!
Feeling rather burned out on the whole Gap/Banana situation, I was pleased when Abercrombie & Fitch brought its "grown-up" concept, Ruehl No. 925, to Mall of America. But that enthusiasm quickly turned to disappointment when I saw (as much as someone of my advanced age can see in one of Abercrombie's dimly lit stores) the usual selection of expensive jeans and overpriced tees. Seemed their idea of what people want when they outgrow Abercrombie was more of the same, just priced higher. As often as I'm at MOA, I must admit, I returned to Ruehl only once or twice more - it just never made my regular route...or that of most shoppers', apparently. Ruehl will close this week at MOA, and around the country. And more dark days are ahead for the chain that once thought it was above sales and discounts. Abercombie & Fitch at Rosedale Center is said to be closing this month as well.
January at the Mall of America: No need to drive higher than the first level of the parking ramp, the corridors seem wider, elevators arrive mere seconds after called. So long, holiday tourists. Got my mall back. Unfortunately, the place has been cleared out of many winter deals, but it's not too late to bargain shop, and so much less of an ordeal without the crazy holiday crowd. My picks this week (although sizes are hit and miss at this point): Steve Madden for discounted boots casual or dressy, tall or short, tough or sexy. And if you can't find what you're looking for, across the hall is boot nirvana, DSW (I saw a few Uggs and Fryes for 40 percent off). Hanna Andersson where prices for sweet little kid clothes are finally down in the range of reasonable. Bloomingdale's second floor women's contemporary for discounted premium denim and assorted tops from lines like James Perse and Splendid. Martin + Osa for discounted basics...long sleeve tees, jeans, turtlenecks, sweaters and more. Meanwhile, don't expect many deals leftover at J. Crew or Club Monaco. It's over. Damn tourists. At least there's no line for the roller coaster.
When Jimmy Choo's budget friendly collection launches tomorrow at H&M, there will be crowd-controlling wristbands handed out in London. There will be huge lines in New York. But at Mall of America - you know, the biggest, busiest shopping center in the country and an international draw for tourists - all there will be is disappointment. MOA is not among the 200 H&M stores to get the highly coveted, limited-edition collection. This isn't the first time the Twin Cities has been overlooked for one of H&M's blockbuster designer partnerships. The suggestion that Midwestern fashionistas are less interested in $75 Jimmy Choo heels than women in Manhattan is ridiculously outdated. We're a global shopping society - luxury goods are never more than a click away no matter where you are, at any hour of the day. But even if it were true that there is less interest in smaller markets, MOA is an entity all its own. It draws not only Minnesotans, but shoppers from all over the world. If you're going to bother to have a store there - and a huge one at that - you ought to know the demographics and bring your A-game.
Another MNFashion Week event, another cool crowd peppered with designers, stylists, models and generally fashionable people like MPLSART director Emma Berg (pictured) in a Max Lohrbach creation from Design Collective. The event was Charmed Life at International Market Square, a marketplace featuring boutiques including Il Vostro, Omorphia, Blacklist Vintage, and Second Debut.Elsworth was there representing men's fashion (if only I could get my husband to dress like Elsworth's Jordan Filas - pictured).
La Bratique's bras were a hot seller - guess when a girl finds the right bra, it doesn't matter if she's in a crowd. It was especially fun to see the many designers and product developers based here in the Twin Cities, including luxe bags from Post Dash and the edgy but affordable bags of adrienne. Lots of great things brewing in town!
At a time when Gaviidae Common seems to be losing stores faster than it is gaining (StyledLife, Drama, Jessica McClintock...), Len Druskinis becoming a hero: with Len Druskin Manperforming well, according to CEO Michael Druskin, the company has decided to give customers what they've been asking for: Len Druskin woman. Except the family thought that sounded a little cheesy, so the women's shop will be called LD Len Druskin (dad's going to have to add a few initials to his name if this keeps up). The shop will be similar to the women's selection at the original Galleria store, but with a downtown focus. It is scheduled to open in a separate storefront at Gaviidae by the second week of October (if it flies, look for men's and women's to merge down the road). Meanwhile, a second Len Druskin Outlet will open next door at City Center in downtown Minneapolis later in October.