"From the moment I first worked with metal, I knew," says jewelry designer Sarah Perlis. "And then I went to Greece, and I saw this ring. I just felt so excited about it, I knew I had to be doing this full-time." Since she spotted that Greek ring four years ago, Perlis has incorporated its classic and simple shape into a larger design ethos -- to great success. Available at Butter (407 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-260-9033) and by commission (718-398-3420), Perlis's jewelry ranges from the classic, like jeweled crosses ($850-$1,300) and hammered, feathery hoop earrings ($350-$600), to more modern thin chain earrings that hang gently with tiny gems ($175). Perlis works mostly in 22-karat gold, accented by exceptionally lucid stones, such as emeralds and rubies. And when she's not working, she's teaching at the Jewelry Arts Institute on the Upper West Side. "Have you ever had it?" she asks of the jewelry-making jones. "It is," she says, "the most fun."
Stretching the Truth
No question about it, Azzedine Alaïa, the reclusive Tunisian designer, is having a moment. The major retrospective of his work at the Guggenheim SoHo past fall sent designers like Helmut Lang into tribute mode, and now clothes that echo his signature strappy Lycra are bouncing into stores. "Once you start wearing it," says Jenne Maag, who stocks sleek Lycra separates like fringed knee-length skirts ($190) and funnel necks ($80) at her SoHo shop (29 Spring Street; 212-625 1700), "you can't wear anything else!" Terri Gillis sells the Vixen line at TG 170 (170 Ludlow Street; 212-995-8660). Skirts ($123) and dresses ($198) are made of black jersey that's cut and tied on the sides. "They're so easy to move around in," says Gillis. "It's almost like sports clothes -- like sexy pajamas!"
Cold weather has a way of taking certain formerly geeky accessories and, somehow, transforming them overnight into chic. This winter, earmuffs have seen their status quotient improve dramatically as they've been reimagined in all sorts of fabulous furs. (After all, who needs staticky hat head?) At Saks Fifth Avenue, rabbit earmuffs are available in black, fuchsia, and white ($25). Uptown furrier J. Mendel fashions them from mink ($275), sable ($575), and chinchilla ($675). And for the ultimate in earmuffery, Marko Matysik mink muffs ($1,285) are available at Barneys New York. Guaranteed -- unless you've got a beehive -- not to mess up your hair.
That old expression about books and their covers means a lot less than it used to. The most popular thing to have lying around on your coffee table these days is an old book; slightly moldy is fine, and never mind if you've opened it. It need only have a faded mid-twentieth-century cover. "People who work for designers buy them," says Michelle Wakefield of Skyline Books (13 West 18th Street; 212-675-4773), "for home décor." "There's garbage that nobody ever bought before, like Casino Sluts," confirms John Scioli of Community Book Store, at 212 Court Street in Brooklyn (718-834-9494), who was featured in a recent article in the shopaholic bible Lucky, "and suddenly they're buying it just for the cover!"