Monday, March 24, 2008

In Which the Author Becomes a Critical Shopper

When I visit SoHo, I don’t want to see a Chanel shop, a Burberry, a Club Monaco, a J Crew, for goodness’ sake! I don’t want to pop into stores like Kirna Zabete and Scoop to see the same Stella McCartneys hanging on a rack.

I want art. Not paintings; clothing.

My first venture into SoHo this trip was a sneak arrival: we entered from the side by the Triumph/Ducati store, and hence avoided the familiar name boutiques. Instead, we could pretend that this was the SoHo of old: we took a jaunt to Blue in Green for some Japanese denim, had lunch in a one-off café beside some chic French students, admired the verdigris-and-orange graffiti on some of the quieter buildings.

In SoHo, I don’t want to feel like I’m at Bergdorfs or Saks, and was dismayed to see how much mall culture has invaded this once insulated area.

So I was relieved to find IF, a wonderful European boutique located on Grand St. Inside were long tables piled with somewhat rustic, worn-looking eccentric shoes, shoes that looked as if they had been kicked off after a night of dancing or philosophizing in Paris. Artisan-style bags—from tiny to large—made out of thick leather were heaped on another table, each looking more enticing and individual than any “it” bag from a magazine.

And the clothes! I do love a good theatrical look, and these clothes fit the playbill. There were floor-length pieced, stiff satiny skirts from comme des garcons, shirts with outrageously puffed sleeves (for the postmodern Anne Shirley in us), and dramatic garments from Ivan Grundahl, a Copenhagen designer (see the posted images above).

It took awhile, but I did find my art in SoHo. But what a shame that it is the exception to the rule.


Mary-Laure said...

Like you, I hate going to places like Soho (or in my case, cool places in Paris) to find the same old retail chains that one finds all over the world these days. I suppose only they can afford prime locations...

pve design said...

mall culture, ha!
Did you go to Brooklyn? You can find some great art, and shoppes with a carefree spirit and very un-mall ish!
please, please send me a photo of your desk vignette miss cavendish.

welcome home.

enc said...

I was just there. I wish I'd known about these places!

Rollergirl said...

I guess it's the same everywhere. Liking the idea of 'shoes that looked like they had been kicked off after a night of dancing'...