Monday, April 12, 2004

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'So(ho)' Fine

Let me just say, Soho, which had been one of the business 'casualties' of 9/ll (the area, of course, is in close proximity to where the World Trade Centers once stood) has seemed to recover nicely, from my perspective.

I strolled around this past Saturday, and because the weather was glorious, and it was the day before Easter, the shops and sidewalks were brimming with people not just tourists, but locals. And yes of course, there undeniably IS a difference.

The upbeat streets that define Soho were filled with the usual artists, artisans, clothing designers, and graphic designers, hawking their wares, and it was bustling. I was especially taken with one enterprising young woman who used this pre Easter opportunity to sell fabric flower pins in a variety of colors and sizes. Of course, the weather on the following day turned very unspring like- unseasonably cool and damp, but as they say: “c’est la vie”!

Speaking of flowers (the hallmark of spring)… streets and shops seemed to be filled with flora and fauna: fresh flowers decorated storefronts and display cases as well as cafes and restaurants- both inside and out; floral prints and patterns abounded on clothing and accessories; there were even flower decorated umbrellas- those that graced the whimsical windows of Jan de Luz a wonderful French antique shop on West Broadway (345 West Broadway, 212 343 9911). I had previously reported on these ‘must have’ $98 umbrellas, and showcased them as THE perfect April find, but in case you missed it, they are available in a variety of irresistible color combinations, and some are currently on back order thanks in large part to their placement in a recent issue of ‘O’- Oprah’s magazine.

I then hit one of my favorite gourmet destinations - Dean and Deluca- which is always crowded, and a treat for the eyes (and tummy), and then headed diagonally across Broadway to check out Prada. As you know, Miuccia was the subject of an article in the New York Times Magazine section this past Sunday, (‘Planet Prada’ by Herbert Muschamp), and her influence seems to know no bounds. The shop is certainly quite a retail departure from anything else- more like a museum. The mannequins that stand in several rows, to seemingly 'greet' you upon entering on Broadway, are literally guarded by security men. If you try to get too close (in order to better observe the fabric, the accessories, the detail), you are stopped in your tracks.

The colorful, printed, and eclectic spring collection, is the perfect look and mood for the season, especially following on the heels of our long drawn out, cold winter, and in my opinion, is so 'right on' for this moment in time. I happen to adore the whimsical travel prints but was taken by the way in which one colorful blouse in particular, reminded me of one of my vintage silk Puccis from the 60's.

Needless to say, I believe that you can achieve a similar (and far less costly) effect on your own, without the benefit of the Prada label sewn in, if you just experiment and play around with the clothing in your closets. If you really examine how Miuccia puts herself together, it is all about an attitude; an intellectual, offbeat, off the cuff approach that remains very un-precious. Very often it’s just a gesture, a manner, a mood. Sometimes it's just the way she leaves her coat open and belts it, or the way in which she layers items, and juxtaposes offbeat combinations of fabrics, colors, and patterns. This is part of her genius, something she always translates on her runways, and something that can be adapted to your own wardrobe.

Take out your vintage prints, revive those glorious Mexican circle skirts (or find them on Ebay, online vintage shops, or at vintage shops), roll up the sleeves of your shirts and jackets, and tie an exuberant scarf around your neck- OR on the handle of your bag. So much the better if you happen to have something that is tie- dyed (nothing too hippie-ish please, as that is NOT the effect we're going for). And if you own a snakeskin coat (remember when it was the 'Year of the Snake' several springs ago, after snakeskin was all over the international runways? Well, if you were wise enough to hold on to your snakeskin coat or jacket from YSL, etc., you are in luck now!)

Just a note, going to the Prada shop can be dangerous (and not just to your finances). Aside from all the steps needed to navigate up and down the first floor, when you leave the back entrance, the heavy door literally opens abruptly onto a steep staircase, and as I was leaving, the weight of the door closing behind me practically knocked me off and down onto the street (and I wasn't even carrying a shopping bag filled with heavy purchases).

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

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