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Prep Talk

Ralph Lauren establishes a toehold in the Village.

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A girl's life: Ralph Lauren's casual-chic boutique.  

The new Ralph Lauren boutique (380 Bleecker Street; 212-645-5513) opened very quietly. No press releases, no celebrities, no muscle boys passing champagne to guests ogling the goody bags. But in two short weeks, word has spread, and the closet-size shop is bustling. Sorry, guys—it’s only women’s clothing and accessories. But what a mix: All of Ralph’s lines are represented—vintage, Collection, and Black and Blue labels—meaning there’s something for everyone, price-wise. But not stylewise. Looking for a power suit or glamorous gown? Go uptown. This shop is more about casual chic.

A perfect-for-fall chocolate-brown corduroy blazer with leather trim and elbow patches is $225. Ponchos come at every price point: black wool with fringe, $598; cashmere, $855; and a silk-wool blend with suede blanket stitching, $2,498. Into vests? Get a puffy one at a pretty price ($165), or the goatskin, which costs as much as a PowerBook ($2,498). Shoe girls will find a selection of knee-high boots in different heights (riding, $695; stacked heel, $850), and preppies will delight in the wall of wide-wale corduroys in a rainbow of colors (each with a contrasting ribbon belt, $125). Looks like the West Village isn’t the man’s world it once was.


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