Remember when Banana Republic was all about cargo pants and rugged travel underpants? Now they've got service worthy of an Abercrombie & Kent safari: There's a concierge desk at the chain's Rockefeller Center flagship where, while you shop, the staff will recharge your cell phone or Palm Pilot; check your coat; press your clothes before you leave; and send them home. They'll even make lunch reservations, call a car service, or help you secure theater tickets (just don't ask for The Producers). In fact, the desk is nearly indistinguishable from the concierge at a hotel, except for one thing -- no tipping allowed.
BETH LANDMAN KEIL
Harking back to the glamorous days of silver-screen queens and high-society divas (not to mention a number of Eastern religions), the turban is crowning swank scalps once again. This time, though, the simple solids and dowdy patterns championed by the likes of Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford have been replaced with du jour styles ranging from flashy to familiar; Burberry swathed one model's head in its classic tartan for a recent ad campaign, and Waris, a designer, is manufacturing his quirky Spanish Inquisition line of turbans in everything from floral to camouflage ($65 at Alife, 178 Orchard Street; 646-654-0628). As for keeping the wrapping secure? Well, the Cartier diamond brooch you have to supply yourself.
While New York City women anxiously await creations from Christian Louboutin and Michel Perry, New York City men have their own shoe idols, like T.O. Dey and Vincent & Edgar -- and John Lobb, whose shop used to be buried in the back of Hermès. This week, the boys are buzzing about a visit from Lobb's custom fitter, Alain Sarazin, who's making his thrice-yearly pilgrimage from France to the boutique at 680 Madison Avenue. "It's a madhouse," says store manager Dennis Dwyer. Sarazin fits made-to-measure varieties from the catalogue (cap-toe single soles start at $3,150; classic riding boots run from $6,300). But he also arrives armed with as-yet-unmade designs that get named after the first person to order them. "We have the Lopez, the Zilka, the Philip,'' says Dwyer. "I came close to a Dennis Dwyer shoe, but I hesitated," he sighs. "And someone else got it."
Peter Arnold, who was appointed two weeks ago as the new head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, has been to fashion shows before, but he's always stood in the back. "With the seamstresses!" he says with a laugh. He loved it nonetheless. "It's like a Broadway show: thrilling." To date, his interest in fashion -- he's done pro bono work to help a few designers get their businesses off the ground -- has been just a sideline to his life as a partner in a Wall Street law firm. He became friends with Stan Herman, CFDA president, when both volunteered as board members at Gay Men's Health Crisis, and when Fern Mallis decided to move to a less public job with IMG, which recently bought 7th on Sixth, Herman suggested that Arnold apply for the executive-director slot, just in time to deal with issues like the date of the September shows and Helmut Lang's rumored defection to Europe. But Arnold seems to have his own perspective on his new job, which entails overseeing events like Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and 7th on Sale. "It's a business," he says simply. "And it should be run as one."