First there was pregnancy chic. Then came designer clothes for kids who like to dress for their playdates – kilts and cashmeres from Burberry’s, for example, and even a touch of adventurous leather here and there. But this summer, D&G takes kiddy couture a step further with a new line, D&G Junior, aimed at consumers (and Christina Aguilera fans) 2 to 14. It’s a collection pitched, D&G explains, to the “most extravagant” tastes of childhood. There are several categories of clothing: “Denim Rock Star,” “Lord Rapper,” and “Logomania” (because a logo, the announcement reminds us, “is a lot of fun when it dresses a child from head to toe”). There are gold denim jackets, trousers printed with a green-and-white money pattern, tiny shearling coats, and Swarovski-crystal-studded jogging shoes. Lourdes and Rocco, after all, are going to need something to wear.
It’s an odd moment for the retail world: Sure, consumers are reeling from the effects of their income taxes and all this recession talk, but a new, fabulous store is opening every night this week: In the West Village, Diane Von Furstenberg will christen her first (eponymous, of course) boutique (385 West 12th Street). Lancel, a French leather company that’s been around since 1876, is wheeling out its first freestanding U.S. store (846 Madison Avenue, at 69th Street). Hugo Boss opens a flagship emporium – which, in retailspeak, means you can eat there, too (717 Fifth Avenue, at 56th Street). Emporio Armani (West Broadway at Spring Street) will go downtown, and Fragments, the boho SoHo jewelry shop, will open a second location in the financial district. Those depressed financiers may need a bauble or two to cheer themselves up.
The Toulouse-Lautrec look hasn’t been entirely absent from Manhattan in recent years; it’s just been confined to framed prints on kitchen walls. But with the release of Moulin Rouge, nineteenth-century petticoats are here. Kitty Boots has a neon take on the underwear-meets-the-outside-world classic ($80 at Bloomingdales, 1000 Third Ave.; 212-705-2000). Designer Sarah Berman’s tulle poodle skirts ($198) mix prim fifties-prom style with a full shape, and tiered skirts by Jean Colonna ($238) and Rebecca Taylor ($310, all at Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Ave.; 212-247-1100) are also froufrou enough for the cancan. What we won’t be seeing again, however, are the split panties that the original cancan dancers wore for their thrilling, high-kick moments. The decency committee, for one, would never approve.
Lord & Taylor is the kind of department store where girls have, for 175 years, shopped with their grandmothers – it’s a tea-sandwich kind of place, with departments named Better Dresses and tables of neatly folded ties. But if Jane Elfers, the tall, blonde CEO who took over the store a year ago, gets her way, Lord & Taylor will become a place younger shoppers put at the top of their list – even if their grandmothers have long since gone to the great department store in the sky. While the merchandise remains classic (European designers have yet to make their way inside, but there’s always a big selection of Calvin, Donna, and Ralph), designers like Han Feng, Yeohlee, and Betsey Johnson are now also in the mix. Elfers has let artists like Larry Rivers take over the store windows, and Julie Andrews has entertained children in a specially designated reading area. “Haven’t you heard?” she says when asked her age, “I’m the 39-year-old CEO!” And she may even have fashion’s whim on her side: At a time when everything seems to be inspired by the past, maybe we need a return to the grand tradition of an afternoon at the department store, complete with ladyfingers for a snack.