The recession has been strewn with retail casualties, from well-established favorites like Poppet and Sophie Roan to relative newcomers like Breil Milano and Amalia. But this month, a new influx of retailers is shaking the dice and reviving formerly vacant storefronts.
Red (123 E. 7th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-777-7211)
Italian denim and jewelry designer Donatella Quintavalle partnered with Enrico Ciotti (also the owner of West Village winebar V Bar) to open this fashion-forward womenswear boutique. Quintavalle handpicks a rotating roster of around a dozen designers (sold alongside pieces from her own eponymous line), including sculptural silk and banana-fiber hats by Tattered Gossamer, shapely cocktail dresses by Outlaws of the Border and Heike Jarick, sterling-silver jewelry from Cult of Tara, and gowns by Sumie Tachbana. Racks in the back of the shop bear rare, well-preserved vintage apparel — recent finds included a one-of-a-kind Gucci blouse for $500.
Montana Knox (4 Extra Place, nr. Bowery and 1st St.; 212-529-5669)
It's a bit later than expected, but Brooklyn artist and designer Montana Knox finally unveiled his first store last weekend. The spring collection is artsy and casual: organic cotton and bamboo T-shirts screen-printed with Knox's original tribal-inspired illustrations. Knox has also collaborated on an exclusive line of sterling-silver and gold-vermeil jewelry with Aaron Ruff of Digby & Iona (the pair met years ago at the Young Designers Market). The range incorporates a "podunk aesthetic" — chunky, birdhouse-shaped cocktail rings recalling the designers' dual childhoods in Maine — as well as edgier pendants (crisscross knives and severed hands).
Prohibit (152 Allen St., nr. Rivington St.; 212-673-6773)
After its Nolita outpost was shuttered in 2003, this Tokyo-based streetwear brand launched three stores in Japan before venturing back into New York this month. Prohibit largely forgoes the typical neon slogan T-shirts and flashy sneakers for a more subdued eponymous range: plaid cotton button-downs, simple nylon-blend jackets, fur-lined winter parkas, and — the main focus — Japanese selvedge denim. The raw denim is woven on old-school projectile looms (the same type used to make Levi’s 501s), dyed dark with indigo, and coated with a resin for durability and stiffness.
Solange Azagury-Partridge (809 Madison Ave., nr. 68th St.; 212-879-9100)
The jewelry industry may be struggling, but this high-end jewelry boutique isn't skimping: The walls and ceiling are covered in 630,000 Swarovski crystals, arranged to mimic constellations. The British designer's baubles are luxe but playful, particularly the covetable collection of cocktail rings: one red-lacquered style is shaped like pouting lips, an enamel bluebird perches atop another, and curvaceous gold bands spell "love" and "sexy" in script.
Jack Olive (87 Mercer St., nr Spring St.; no phone yet)
This new menswear brand is inspired by the British sport of cricket — expect preppy knits, polos, tailored trousers, and casual button-downs, all manufactured in Italy. The New York flagship is slated to open late this month. Details (and photos) to come!