Dust off your suede, your denim and your
chocolate brown apparel. Pull out the chunkiest necklaces from
the far reaches of your jewelry box, and polish your boots -
the high heels, the knee-highs and flats.
It’s fall 2002.
Among other surprises, the season features a resurgence of interest in corduroy not seen since the early ’80s.
But if those togs have long since been donated to charity, follow this advice gleaned by GO Brooklyn from Brooklyn’s style mavens and designers and start shopping.
Be like Carrie
Habit proprietor Anna Vozzo watches style trends like a hawk. The items on sale in her boutique are an array of must-haves that you’ve probably seen on TV, such as the World According to Jess handbags, which are shaped like houses and boutiques (they’ve been on "Sex and the City"), and the "very earthy and spiritual" bead necklaces with pendants carved from split stone, wood and bone.
As Vozzo takes GO Brooklyn on a tour of her 3-year-old Smith Street shop she confirms that in addition to corduroy, this season’s trends include embellishing all fabrics with leather, such as Custo-Barcelona sweaters with leather appliques. Habit is featuring Custo-Barcelona’s cotton, long-sleeved tops with strong graphic designs that will immediately update your old rags.
(Custo became popular after being seen on "Dharma & Greg" and "Friends"; Natalie Portman wore a Custo in the movie "Anywhere but Here.")
Vozzo emphasizes the importance of corduroy, showing off a pair of NM70 Chinese slippers made of that ribbed fabric.
She also touts "chunky jewelry" and stresses that red and brown are important fall colors.
Fringe is also popping up everywhere. Vozzo will be carrying suede- and leather-fringed shawls that can be worn on the hips over skirts. The hips will also get a lot of attention with one of Habit’s low-slung suede belts made with coconut shells.
At Habit, an entire wall is dedicated to the all-important fabric - denim.
In addition to the well-known, beloved labels Chaiken, Trina Turk and Laundry, Vozzo is carrying emerging Brooklyn artists like jewelry designer Laurice Curran, clothing designers Kaderkang and To’sha, and Tracey Tanner’s leather wallets and wrist bands.
Vozzo emphasizes that although she sells items made popular on TV and in films, they’ll last for more than one season.
"I buy more real but fashionable clothes," she said. "They’re not so over the top you can’t wear it again."
Best foot forward
According to Maureen Brody of Foot Fetish, at 8813 Third Ave. in Bay Ridge, this fall there’s suede for the feet just as there is in the clothes. She recommends Charles David’s suede-fringed boots, but then again, she recommends a lot of boots.
Brody likes sleek slouch boots by Enzo with the new cropped trousers and Shelly’s distressed leather boots when going casual with a cable-knit sweater.
When going for the boho look in your peasant blouse, try Faryl Robin’s comfy flat boots, suggests Brody.
And sex still sells. Sexy shoes that is. BCBG’s stilettos are a must to dress up those Seven hipster jeans, says Brody, and the company’s spectacular sling-backs "look hot with a pencil skirt for business or pleasure."
According to Howard Mankin, owner of Aaron’s clothing store in Park Slope, shoppers should be brave and wear the winter white pantsuit.
"It’s been threatened for the last few seasons, but you see more people buying into it and we’ve bought into it to a degree," says Mankin, advising the timid to forget about the old adage, "No white after Labor Day."
He says that designers such as Max Mara and Hugo Boss are really celebrating femininity in their new lines, yet pinstripes are still very strong.
Were you always feeling squirmy in last year’s cotton wrap shirt?
"The surplice top is important," maintains Mankin of the shirts which criss cross in the front, leaving a v-neck. "Whether it’s a fine-gauge knit or cotton poplin wrap." Mankin says that the knits tend to stay in place easier for a variety of body types as opposed to the cotton poplin wraps.
This wrap look has even carried over to suiting, he says, pointing out that Max Mara has introduced a well-engineered wrap jacket. Again, he believes the key to the jacket is that it’s both stylish and comfortable.
"The wrap itself goes through a keyhole on one side of the jacket, staying in place when you sit," he says.
Women can also update their suits with novelty shirts, says Mankin, noting, "A black suit with a ruffle shirt is a totally different look."
He recommends a number of handbag designers but singles out Francesco Biasia’s hobos, totes and satchels as "much more fashion forward."
And he touts the My Philosophy brand of wristband-bracelets as a great accessory look that’s hard to duplicate by knock-off artists. The charms and letters are sold separately from the polyurethane bands and sterling silver clasps, leaving it up to the customer to buy the letters to spell out anything from "LOVE" to "USA" to their names. The bracelets come in boxes that look like books on a shelf - with "My Philosophy" printed on the spine.
And isn’t self-expression what fashion is all about?
Eidolon’s partners and designers - Yukie Ohta, Amara Felice and Andrea Fisher - make sure their Park Slope shop is filled with usable unique accessories and clothing. They don’t go to trade shows, they say, so their shoppers can be assured of having unique, handmade items.
While it’s important to select the right, stylish clothes, if your undergarments are all wrong - so are you.
Felice has begun a new line, "Smarty Pants," featuring panties and matching camisoles made of stretchy lace for "perfect fit and comfort," said Felice. "There are no wedgies, no strong panty lines and no thongs. I’m doing them for the way I like my underwear to fit."
In keeping with the industry’s fascination with vintage designs, Felice says Fisher is designing a line of clothes from burgundy crepe fabric that are inspired by the 1930s and ’40s.
"Her stuff is very wearable with retro buttons and collars," she says. "It’s very flattering and feminine and romantic, but great for day-to-day and on-the-job."
If you’re looking for that suede belt that hangs low on the hips, look no farther than Eidolon, which features the suede belts made macrame-style by artist Betty Spiers, an 83-year-old designer in London.
"She hand cuts the leather, and they come in chocolate brown, black, Wedgewood blue and burgundy red," said Felice.
Eidolon is also featuring Nadine New York’s corduroy and canvas hats, and Ohta’s "fun, functional, colorful" corduroy handbags.
Be the first
At Flirt, on Smith Street, almost everything is one-of-a-kind from Kellene Wirenius’ necklaces made of assorted vintage beads to the patchwork fleece scarf embroidered with a martini glass to the sponginess of a simply shaped (were those place mats?!) handbags.
Flirt’s selection of women’s wear is handmade by the three owners - Heather Falcone, Patti Gilstrap and Seryn Potter - as well as dozens of other emerging women designers.
"We only do small lots and a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces," says Gilstrap. "We just hope the right person finds it. We’re not trendy. People like that."
When you shop at this 2-year-old store, you aren’t looking for something that’s new and in style - in competition with other fashionistas. You’re creating your own, very much one-of-a-kind style, from "rocker chick to girly-girl," says Gilstrap.
"You’ll be different without looking ridiculous," she assures.
When GO Brooklyn stopped in on a recent Friday afternoon, Gilstrap was sewing in the store - embellishing a black jersey with a substantial, 3-D pink satin flower applique and finishing the ends of the slim sleeves with more of the same flounce-like pink fabric.
This mixing and matching of fabrics is another theme amongst Flirt’s current contents. Gilstrap says Flirt will be carrying denim skirts with ruffles and flowers this fall.
Among the fall items already in-house are tan, thick silk-screened shirts by A. Frederikkson, and fun wrap-around tan capes by Meisje. There are also snuggly, sleeveless, mohair sweaters in hot pink and burnt orange.
Equally important, Flirt carries sizes "larger than the unrealistic size 2." Shop here and be the first to start a trend.
Be a tweedy pie
Stop by Stacia New York on Smith Street and you may meet designer Stacy Johnson, the artist behind the Stacia New York line, in the flesh.
Johnson describes her styling as "pretty classic with a twist: contrast facing or rose buttons on a polo sweater. The styling is very classic, not avant-garde. Clothes people want to wear when going out at night, but also appropriate for work."
Johnson’s fall 2002 line begins with a pastel color story, she said. Her boutique will carry her coordinating line of cashmere, silk and tweed pieces in frost pink and neon yellow and towards the end of September begin bringing in her chocolate, mulberry and rococo (a rich Merlot red) line of stretch wool sweaters which also coordinate with stretch tweed jackets, wide leg trousers and skirts with kick pleats. Johnson balances her feminine skirts with military style, tailored jackets.
If you’re short on time, Johnson says later in the month, you can check out her designs on her Web site, www.staciany.com - which makes it easy to see what pieces coordinate with what - and call your order in.
Aaron’s, Fifth Avenue at 17th Street in Park Slope, (718) 768-5400
Flirt, 252 Smith St. at Douglass Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 858-7931
Eidolon, 233 Fifth Ave. at President Street in Park Slope, (718) 638-8194
Foot Fetish, 8813 Third Ave. at 88th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 238-8470
Habit, 231 Smith St. at Douglass Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 923-0303
Stacia, 267 Smith St. at DeGraw Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 237-0078, www.staciany.com.