When hosting Saturday evenings at the Roxy became too much of a late-night liability, drag queen and party promoter Lee Chapell hooked into the growing trend for all things artisanal. But instead of the routine knitting needles, Chapell picked up needle and thread, sewing peacock-feather-and-silk pillows ($100-$150) in his Greenpoint apartment. Sold exclusively at Heywood of London (20 Cornelia Street; 212-367-1965), the flamboyant furnishings are fashioned from the same fabrics Chapell uses to outfit diva friends like Shequida. And now that shapely Brit model Sophie Dahl has arrived Stateside to invent her own fabulousness, the chameleon couturier has signed on to custom-design her dresses.
While the eighties revival has yet to bring back the shoulder pad, the decade's other accessory of choice has returned to fashionable earlobes this spring. Cate Blanchett skipped Harry Winston sparklers in favor of simple gold hoops on Oscar night; Gwen Stefani arrived at New York's fall fashion shows with behemoth rings peeking out of her cornrowed hair. In Paris, gigantic gold hoops glinted on the flashy, pimped-out mannequins on Dior's runway, while at Ungaro's acid-splashed spectacle, the models upped the eighties ante by sashaying down the catwalk wearing a single hoop. So far, however, no one's been seen with an armful of black rubber bracelets.
Tribeca Films? Soho Grand? Chelsea boot? It's time to move on: NoLIta has been nominated as the next moniker for all things hip. Shoe designer Mark Schwartz (45 Spring Street) has christened his latest wooden wedge heel after his fashionable environs. A few blocks south, designer Claire Blaydon (202A Mott Street) thinks the downtown district perfectly describes her new collection of fragrances. And chef John Flanders at the new restaurant Nolita's (98 Kenmare Street) is banking on the stylish signifier to whet downtown appetites (Willem Dafoe has already been drawn in). For those whose stomping grounds are farther afield, J. Crew has just debuted the Nolita slide and sandal for spring.
Even as investors sweat and scream watching the nasdaq fizz and fizzle, the city's bartenders are pouring conspicuous-consumption cocktails that mix enough luxury liquors and tropical tipple to wash away the market's darkest days. While Esca's new rhubarb bellini may suit more subdued palates, the drink menu at Chicama calls for stronger stomachs: The restaurant's preferred potions are the tamarind sour (vanilla vodka, Liquor 43, and tamarind; pictured above) and the Buena Vista (Bacardi Limón, mint, Captain Morgan's rum, and peach schnapps; below). At Commune, the bartender has concocted this season's Cosmopolitan, the American Beauty, a woozy combination of crème de menthe, grenadine, King Eider vermouth, Germain-Robin brandy, orange juice, and ruby port. And Métrazur's festive Columbian (Stoli vanilla vodka, Kahlúa, milk, and Coke?) sounds like a gleeful first raid on Dad's liquor cabinet.