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Boutique Chic

From cool local designer shops, urban high style -- with prices that don't always match.

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Who wants to face another spring in that ratty floral slip dress and beat-up striped espadrilles? Urban-dwellers, take note: With the jet set's favored designers picking up common-man styles worthy of groovy sixties hippies, Provençal peasants, and even the soldiers of the next millennium, you don't need to be a Fendi-bag-carrying member of the fashion aristocracy to put together the wardrobe-of-the-moment. Stroll over to visit Manhattan's homegrown designer boutiques, and you'll turn up a covetable crop of fair-weather essentials without haute price tags.

Amy Chan
247 Mulberry Street (966-3417)
In a jewel-box setting scattered with Indian embroidered shawls and pillows, handbag designer Chan shows the gypsy spirit is no longer only for tramps and thieves. Marrying Eastern-inspired needlework and mosaic with cool, modern shapes, her body-hugging pouches are serious urban street gear:
- Studio 54 silver disco-ball-mosaic messenger bag, $270
- Olive cotton military-style adjustable body bag, $135

Anna Sui
113 Greene Street (941-8406)
Sui's boutique clothes girly-girls of all ages who aren't afraid of being splashy in eye-catching brights, metallics, and florals -- all at decidedly non-splashy prices:
- Red-and-gold-paisley capri pants for St. Tropez-style hippies, $185
- Long Island girl's fave pale-blue cotton tank top with floral trim, $34
- Shoulder-baring halter-neck sundress in lavender floral chiffon, $215

A Détacher
262 Mott Street (625-3380)
Designer Monika Kowalska's monastic muslins have all the architectural precision of Hussein Chalayan or Hermès (under Martin Margiela). Cool downtown moms pick up miniature versions of the avant-garde styles for their babies too.
- Starched white cotton asymmetric sleeveless dress with pleated skirt, $325
- Edgy, understated black tulle tote bag, $90

Bond 07
7 Bond Street (677-8487)
Tunisian-born accessories designer Selima Salaun's boutique is a treasure trove for Capri-bound NoHo-ites in need of catchy sunglasses, paparazzo-style straw hats in girly colors, and lacy lingerie that's too pretty to hide under clothes.
- Candy-apple-red plastic square-frame sunglasses with orange sides, $220
- Turquoise underwear-as-outerwear capri-length leggings with yellow lace hem, $125
- Late-nineties friendship charms, like
enamel-splashed sterling pendants on black satin cord necklaces, $80

Daryl K
21 Bond Street (777-0713)
Does hippie revival make you yawn? Daryl Kerrigan's downtown digs offer a streamlined nineties take on iconic eighties fashions.
- Pop Shop-esque white graffiti-print tank tops for flash-free hip-hoppers, $120
- North Beach Leather's gone, but Kerrigan's ultramarine tab-front calfskin jeans with deep suede cuffs are better, $600

Hotel of the Rising Star
13 Prince Street (625-9657)
When it comes to window displays, the guys who design cool, military-inspired gear under the "Organization for Returning Fashion Interest" label (that's ORFI, for short) don't mess around: A heavy curtain effectively blocks the wares from the passing NoLIta throngs. Venture inside, and you, too, might become an addict:
- Stand-at-attention gray cotton twill knee-length parachute pants with drawstring hems, $160
- For April showers in the trenches: a French-blue zip-front nylon anorak with hood, $260
- High Alpine camouflage in the shape of a white hooded sweatshirt that zips to cover your face, $170

Jutta Neumann
317 East 9th Street (982-7048)
Tired of early-spring blisters? Visit Neumann's shoebox-size shop, pick a style from a display of thick-soled molded-leather sandals, choose a color and a skin (from plain leather to ostrich), and she'll build a pair of couture sandals to fit you alone. Allow three weeks for work and time for three fittings. Or walk out with a bag.
- Princess-Leia-would've-loved-it white leather asymmetric "Prague" shoulder bag, $215
- Fidget-inducing burgundy stingray-skin cuff bracelet with sterling clasp, $85
- Gray "Daiki" thong sandal with square wooden heel, $245

Malia Mills
199 Mulberry Street (625-2311)
Finally, a swimsuit-shopping experience that won't leave you gray and depressed. With a handful of prints and solids in dozens of mix-and-match shapes, you're practically guaranteed to piece together a suit that's flattering and fashionable. Arrange an appointment for a private fitting, and you'll feel like you brought your big sister to the store. Make a splash in Nantucket with these styles in the "Gypsy Rose" sari print:
- Tie Me Up! Triangle top, $76, and Tie Me Down! tie-side bikini, $74
- "It's a Wrap!" ankle-length cotton drawstring wrap skirt to wear on the street or as a cover-up, $142
- Scale the dunes in platform tread-soled flip-flops in plum suede by Malia Mills for Hush Puppies, $65

Nova USA
100 Stanton Street (228-6844)
The Lower East Side corner store with a perpetual inventory of downtown-boy staples like slouchy pants, slim shirts, and easy jackets is just as popular with the girls. Here's what you'd swipe if your boyfriend owned it:
- Roomy washed-cotton-twill men's cinch-waist judo pants in navy, $66
- Super-skinny-fit police-blue long-sleeve button-front shirt, $73
- And starting in March, pick up judo-style bermudas in stone cotton poplin for the beach, $66

P.A.K.
229 Mott Street; 226-5167
Designers Corey Pak and Anke Crispen's cool cotton skirts, sundresses, and tube tops in muted colors are must-haves for East Coast sun-worshippers with California-quality biceps:
- Lavender wrap skirt with kangaroo pocket is sassiest on city streets, but also great on the beach, $154
- Strappy, shoulder-baring Army-green cotton tough-girl sundress with tie front, $187
- Cinderella-at-the-sea ultramarine cotton cropped apron-style halter top, $99

Red Tape Rebecca Danenberg
333 East 9th Street (529-8483)
With her signature collection now priced out of reach for some of her most devoted downtown customers, Danenberg has created a group of wallet-friendly basics called Red Tape. The East Village shop she built to house it is full of her cool, body-conscious pants, sweaters, and tees. This spring, you can live in:
- Classic bootleg pants in stretch-cotton canvas with detachable Jedi-style belt bag for a galaxy far, far away, $114
- Cropped, hip-hugging white stretch-cotton sailor floods with ankle zippers for adjustable flare, $108

Sigerson Morrison
242 Mott Street (219-3893)
You're still wearing the kitten-heeled mule Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison were known for when they staked out their NoLIta territory way back in 1995, but now you want something a little different. Try:
- Woven-metal asymmetric flat thong sandals, à la Chanel but without the killer heel -- or the uptown price tag -- $167

Ten Thousand Things
137 West 19th Street (352-1333)
David Rees and Ron Anderson's funky oxidized-silver jewelry line is now available at their tranquil, brick-paved gallery. Having trouble choosing? The designers will guide you through the collection. For cool Santa Fe style, pick up:
- Mesa-chic oxidized-silver tennis bracelet with tiny turquoise beads, $260
- Chain necklace with large oval turquoise pendant, $465

Tracy Feith
209 Mulberry Street (334-3097)
A favorite source for the breezy, layerable Indian-inspired slip dresses that have become de rigueur for New Year's Eve on St. Barts, Tracy Feith's shop is gearing up for a true American spring with prim, ladylike styles that do double duty at the Hampton Classic:
- Butter-yellow cotton "Socialite" garden-party sleeveless sundress with white lace insets and tie waist, $330

Catherine
468 Broome Street (925-6765)
Diane Von Furstenberg dress designer Catherine Maladrino's snappy solo venture is a magnet for celebrities like Elizabeth Hurley and Kristen Scott Thomas and for SoHo fashion types who appreciate Maladrino's Parisian take on femininity and vivid color. Here's what they're scooping up:
- Baby-blue cross-stitched nylon-viscose camisole, $145, and cardigan, $245
- Swingy olive-green or purple suede skirt à la Millicent Rogers in the Southwest, $460
- Baby-blue leather capri pants, $306
- Straw cowgirl hat , $165

Phare
252 Elizabeth Street (625-0406)
When Jane Mayle and her boyfriend, Chris Jarvis, opened Phare last year, they sold out of their homespun house-dressing collection in a matter of days. Now they expect an onslaught for these downtown essentials:
- Cinch-waist denim shirt-jacket , $160
- Haute hobo buckle-back skirts in geometric prints , $155
- Oversize "Foxy" leopard-print clutch , $198

Vivienne Tam
99 Greene Street (966-2398)
Cool hippie party staples are reborn in crinkly but sturdy spun-olephin paper (kind of FedEx-goes-to-Carnaby Street). Less adventurous flower children will find their must-haves in Tam's signature nylon netting.
- Hawaiian-print white paper top , $128
- Ruffle-hem flamenco-ish knee skirt , $120
- Psychedelic-purple floral-print flares in nylon netting, $265

Isabel Toledo
277 Fifth Avenue, at 30th Street,
fifth floor (685-0948)

The relaxed showroom atmosphere at Toledo's midtown "lab" will make the weariest of shoppers feel like a Barneys VP on a buying trip. Top picks:
- Shimmery silk box-pleated librarian-fantasy shirtdress , $650
- Layered sheer lingerie-knit ruffle-hem dresses in white cotton, $325
- And, if you feel like a splurge: a groovy crushed-velvet hoodie that reverses from champagne crushed velvet to gray-and-mint-green silk satin, $1,375

Zero
225 Mott Street (925-3849)
For spring, designer Maria Cornejo is stocking her gallerylike shop with boy-style basics tailored for women in bright, rugged technical fabrics. She wears:
- Navy cotton-lycra cropped biker pants , $245
- Red rip-stop hooded raincoat with Velcro fastening , $395
- Purple fleece elastic-neckline tank , $120

Jill Stuart
100 Greene Street (343-2300)
Stuart's serene, high-ceilinged shop is packed with the clothes you can't live without: chic, wearable classics in cashmere, cotton, and chiffon. There's something for everyone, so you pick:
- Olive-green short-sleeved cashmere sweater, $314
- Red cashmere wrap cardigan, $330
- Crisp white empire-waist sleeveless sundress, $275
- White slit-crewneck long-sleeve pullover top, $138
- Cropped white cotton judo pants , $312
- Cream-chiffon floral-print peasant dress, $390


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