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Downtown
With its rustic wooden floors, exposed-brick walls, and floor-to-ceiling metal shelving, Polo Sport (379 West Broadway; 212-625-1660) is like a dressed-down version of Ralph Lauren's shops on Madison Avenue. Ralph pioneered the sales-floor-as-stage-set concept, and here, everything from the swellegant Ralph Lauren collection to the sportier RLX technical label has been tucked into "lifestyle pockets" with the ease of a well-folded breast hanky. "Inspiration boards" show shoppers how to mix and match labels: a vintage denim jacket with a pashmina wrap, for example.

Beth Shepherd and Sarah Hailes take fashion as seriously as Diana Vreeland. The two stylish-beyond-their-years twentysomethings have opened Kirna Zabête (96 Greene Street; 212-941-9656), which reminds the lathed bodies that commute regularly to Europe of Colette, the too-hip Parisian clothing-and-cool-stuff emporium. In addition to the latest designs by fast-laners like Clements Ribeiro and Olivier Theyskens, and young edgier labels like Wink and Susan Cianciolo, there are scarlet iMacs and dispensers filled with dime-store candy.

Former Barneys shoe buyer and Georgia transplant Jeffrey Kalinsky ignored the naysayers who advised him not to open his store Jeffrey (449 West 14th Street; 212-206-1272) in mid-August, when conventional wisdom has the trendetti immigrating to the Hamptons. "People are waiting for the doors to open on Saturday mornings," Kalinsky says, adding that he's planning to unlock the shop an hour earlier. Despite its location in the fashion world's Sahara, the 12,000-square-foot megastore is seeing a lot of the stiletto crowd, who would gladly sprint across cobblestones for a few choice cuts of Alexander McQueen.

If your credit card is still feeling like it hasn't gotten a good cardiovascular workout, head south to Auto (805 Washington Street; 212-229-2292), a storefront showroom opening September 18 that will sell the same groovy baubles found in Wallpaper* magazine spreads. Can't afford a handblown glass vase or cowhide rug? Hang out and page through out-of-print oversize glossies like Flair and Gentry.

Fashion's chronically underfed fit into Katayone Adeli clothes like precisely cut jigsaw pieces. This week, the designer is unloading more cotton "Dickies-style" pants and scoop-neck shirts at her eponymous boutique at 35 Bond Street (212-260-3500), joining soulmates like Daryl K who'd already colonized this increasingly stylish stretch.

peta sympathizers will have to think twice before flinging the epithets (and the red paint) now that Trufaux (301 West Broadway; 212-334-4545) -- where reasonable facsimiles of bear and zebra have been domesticated into A-line skirts and trench coats -- is on the scene. Not in the market for a poncho fashioned out of the signature mink manqué? Check out Trina Turk's ultra-leather motocross pants and Eugenia Kim's collection of felt hats, trimmed with feathers gleaned in a cruelty-free manner, of course.

Multiculti Me & Ro jewelry finally finds a homeland in NoLIta come October (239 Elizabeth Street; no phone yet). Expect customers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna to fight tooth-and-polished-talon over the sterling-silver pieces and eighteen-karat-gold jewelry studded with precious stones designed by Michele Quan and Robin Renzi.

A refugee from the Issey Miyake design studio, Kosuke Tsumura unfolds his own shop in mid-September. Located in the former Liquid Sky space (241 Lafayette Street; 212-966-0202), Final Home sparkles with high-tech sportswear for what Tsumura refers to as our "mobile and nomadic society." Expect lots of zippers, Velcro pockets, and a blast of techno with every browse.

Nancy Koltes at Home, another jewel-size boutique sprouting in September out of NoLIta's precious square footage (31 Spring Street; 212-219-2271), is the downtown place with Italian-made linen sheets that may get uptown Frette fretting. The president of the Scandia Down Shops, Koltes is expanding to software like cashmere robes, fragrances, and lotions.

Creed, the Anglo-French parfumier responsible for a slew of well-doused European monarchs for more than two centuries, has crossed the Atlantic to 9 Bond Street (212-228-1940), where it's trying to score even more pulse points. Along with the inventory of new and vintage scents (including blends formulated for Napoleon III and the shah of Iran), the store contains a library and a table where staff members will lead smelling seminars -- calisthenics for your olfactory sense.

Green thumbs in the vicinity of 435 Hudson Street will no longer have to head uptown to buy hardy perennials with the launch of the third and largest Chelsea Garden Home Store (no phone yet) in mid-October. There will be a lush assortment of plants, tools, furniture, and gargoyles ready to plant on cast-iron façades -- or fire escapes. In case you've wondered where to score flats of impatiens in Chelsea, the beloved nursery that was attached to the Home Store here moved to a bigger space (321 Bowery; 212-777-4500) in July.

Two favorite holiday-shopping destinations are spinning off downtown outlets: Tourneau explores the mid-range at Tourneau Watch Gear in the World Trade Center this December (no phone yet). Swatch will offer splashier designs in a store opening September 30 a little farther west of its SoHo flagship (436 West Broadway; no phone yet).

Midtown
Escape the camera-toting tourists crawling up Fifth Avenue at the new Banana Republic flagship in Rockefeller Center (626 Fifth Avenue, at 51st Street; no phone yet). The concept has gotten an upgrade: There's a coat-and-bag check and oversize dressing rooms with "solstice" lighting (so you can see how selections look in both the office's frightening fluorescents and the buttery dim of your favorite French boîte). All this while a chino-clad sales assistant charges up your cell phone for free.

Not to be outdone, J. Crew is muscling into the NBC building nearby (30 Rockefeller Center; no phone yet) in late October. Drop antsy children at the skating rink below and check out J. Crew's "Millennium" collection: an exclusive line of tuxedos and evening gowns that might inspire you to finally commit to one of the umpteen parties you've been hearing about.

Old Navy has already outgrown its two monster marts downtown; a new, 75,000-square-foot behemoth at 144-150 West 34th Street (212-594-0049), piled high with limitless supplies of polarfleece and cotton khakis, will butt heads with Macy's Herald Square. Torpedo Joe's, a sandwich-and-smoothie shop in the basement, allows shoppers to refuel as they navigate the four floors.

Long before there were bus rides to Ikea, Conran's was bringing affordable furniture to the masses throughout Europe (and the United States, until the chain filed for bankruptcy in 1994). Sir Terence Conran, a pre-Martha Stewart merchant of domestic chic, returns on November 11 with an exquisite steel-and-glass pavilion tucked underneath the Queensboro Bridge (415 East 59th Street; no phone yet). The Terence Conran Shop expects to julienne the competition with inexpensive wares for the bed, bath, and kitchen. Opening in December is Gustavino's, an adjacent 400-seat brasserie and restaurant that will be run by a former La Grenouille hand.

The well-traveled cousin of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, has commandeered a second downtown location, opening in mid-October (85 Fifth Avenue, at 16th Street; 212-627-5885). Shoppers on the ABC-Fishs Eddy trail can make impulse purchases of linen tea towels and aluminum garden chairs from Provence.


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