With Siberian temperatures icing the city's sidewalks, the glacially glamorous are choosing woolly knits and layers of fur over last winter's streamlined Gore-Tex, and the defiantly bare-legged are escaping frostbitten feet by padding about in the same Abominable Snowman boots their baby-sitters used to wear. The furry boots, which conjure both Russian czarinas and storm troopers, can be found at DDC Lab ($140; 180 Orchard Street, 212-375-1647). They're equally handy for scaling snowdrifts and for stomping past velvet ropes. Even the hausfraus of the Lower East Side have abandoned their scuffs and slippers for the shaggier shoes. But fashion has a price -- one slip into a slush puddle can leave your fuzzy feet looking as distastefully drippy as a wet dog's.
Rags to Riches
John Galliano's tribute to the tramp at his Christian Dior show may have prompted endless tsk-tsking from the international style council, but sartorial sages have already endorsed the impoverished look this season. Helmut Lang spearheaded the down-and-out look with his line of dirty denim last September, and everyone from Calvin Klein to Old Navy is busily besmirching boot-cuts for spring. For some, the frayed notion is practically a study in science. The conceptual team RubinChapelle singes A-line skirts ($380; available at Kirna Zabête) with a heat gun to create a textured effect and burns an iron into men's cords to add layers of color ($180; available at Steven Alan Men's, 558 Broome Street). Soon enough, you'll actually be asking for your laundry to come back with scorch marks.
Tommy Hilfiger's street cred has cooled off this winter, as the original urban outfitter to Bronx B-boys and Lauryn Hill spread his thread too thin, dressing up bubblegum acts (Britney Spears) and sponsoring the tours of aging rock boomers (the Rolling Stones). Such marketing mishaps have also chilled the high-flying brand on Wall Street, where the company's stock plummeted by 18 percent in one day last month. In hopes of revitalizing his falling fashion house, Hilfiger followed the lead of the French couture clubs (Chloé, Louis Vuitton) and brought in indie darling Daryl Kerrigan as creative consultant to the women's division. The CFDA-award-winning designer has been charged with injecting her stylish streetwear aesthetic into Hilfiger's formula, including his recent "Tommy Rocks" -- a line of glitzy Las Vegas westernwear that quickly dulled on store racks. Kerrigan's sharp-edged Daryl K and K-189 lines have proved successful with the fashion elite, but it remains to be seen whether her futuristic experiments with slits and foam rubber will translate to trends in Middle America.
Lose Weight Under the Knife
If a trip to Medieval Times, the chivalry-themed chain restaurant in New Jersey, seems too much of a hike, you can brush up on your jousting skills at the Reebok Sports Club New York (160 Columbus Avenue, at 67th Street; 212-362-6800) in its popular "Forza" class. Forza, which means "strength" in Italian, is loosely based on the ancient techniques of samurai and involves slicing a three-foot wooden sword in the air. Don't worry, there's plenty of lunging and squatting. Ilaria Montagnani, the class instructor and a martial-arts master (she has a black belt in karate), claims practitioners can burn up to 800 calories per session. Indeed, the weekly class is already popular with models, though with its no-combat rule in effect, short-fused supermodel Naomi Campbell has yet to sign up.