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Fashionistas had been holding their breaths ever since Harriet’s Alter Ego co-owners Ngozi Odita and Hekima Hapa were forced to relocate to make room for Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-project.

But after a two-month hiatus to set up the new shop on Flatbush Avenue, Odita and Hapa’s indigenous textiles, detailing and functionality are back and better than ever, just in time for summer.

An assortment of women’s wear, menswear, handbags, jewelry, skincare products, and music await shoppers seeking a culturally influenced styles with a distinctly Brooklyn flavor.

This summer, the look du jour will be both sensual and classy, Odita told GO Brooklyn.

"The look this year will be girly and delicate, but it’s a little more refined than last year’s peasant theme," Odita said. "People want to show some shape, but it will be very tasteful and classic."

Tropical and African-themed prints are set to be popular, and are already selling quickly, as are nautical stripe patterns. One of the hottest items at the moment is a multicolored striped tube dress with asymmetrical layers - a must-have for summer’s heated nights.

Wrap tops made of lace or delicate weaves will lend a dressier touch to solid tanks, said Odita. As for fabrics, woven cottons - which are cool and soft - will triumph over stretch knits.

As the weather warms, shoes are getting strappier. Odita recommends platforms or wedges for a sexy look that’s still practical. They also offer flowered leather flats, which can be worn with tapered rocker-style jeans and a solid matching top.

And don’t forget beaded earrings to round off the summer look: Harriet’s carries a small but elegant assortment. For a funkier look, go with lanyard earrings to recall the day-camp fun of summers gone by.

To tote your fashionable findings, Odita predicts hobo bags will be summer’s hot thing, in denim for day and bright leathers for night. Or try one of the bite-sized clutches at Harriet’s, with just enough room for the basics.

And to stay fresh throughout the long, hot summer, the boutique even offers a "beauty bar" on Saturdays, when professional make-up artist LaCrystal Cooke offers complimentary makeovers featuring her collection of all-natural cosmetics.

At Harriet’s, fashion-minded men needn’t be out of style: the boutique already carries a line of Ts and will add a line of soft-wash denim from South Africa to its offerings in June.

"Guys are so basic that T-shirts just work really well," said Odita. "They act like they won’t wear the same pair of jeans every day, but they do."

No matter, since men and women can flock to Harriet’s not just for fashion, but for fun, with monthly events at the boutique focused on clothing, art and music.

The larger space has allowed for an art gallery showcasing local artists and photographers, and a backyard garden will soon house a runway for community fashion shows.

"We’ve gone way beyond being a simple clothing store," said Odita. "People come here just to hang out. We love it!"

So do their customers, she added.

"Brooklynites appreciate art in clothing," said Odita. "We’re not as obsessed with brand names. We’re a little more daring, and a lot more fun."


Harriet’s Alter Ego (293 Flatbush Ave. at St. Marks Place, [718] 783-2074). Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon-8 pm; Sunday noon-7 pm. Closed Mondays.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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