A Little Italy
It’s a banner week for New Yorkers with an Italian fetish, as two of Milan’s biggest names are giving their New York flagships major face-lifts just in time to accommodate holiday shoppers. After two years of secrecy, delays, and rumors (including the one that the cash registers would be manned by robots), Prada’s high-tech Rem Koolhaas-designed SoHo behemoth (pictured in an artist’s rendering) – the first in a series of stores that the architect will create for Prada all over the world – will finally open on the corner of Broadway and Prince Street. Uptown, Bottega Veneta makes its official debut as a member of the Gucci group with the arrival of the first collection by designer Tomas Maier. It’s the second recent overhaul for the venerable leather-goods house (the previous one brought us classic Bottega bags covered in graffiti), and one that suits the understated mood of the times: perfectly slouchy woven shoulder bags and crocodile messenger bags. The store itself has undergone a temporary renovation, and is scheduled to re-reopen with a new design next fall. Bottega’s kickoff will be celebrated with a recession-style small breakfast event, while Prada’s opening gala, scheduled for Friday, should be so glamorous that – if you manage to sneak in – it’ll make up for the fact that your company has canceled the Christmas party.
Anyone still paying off debts from the Fendi Baguette craze of a few seasons ago can breathe easy when it comes to this winter’s chic-est bag. It’s a Klein Tools bag, it comes from the hardware store, and its price is calibrated by inches, not ostrich feathers or sequins. Sixteen inches make for a roomy little handbag ($49.99), while the 24-inch version would do well on weekend trips ($64.99). The only trick is not to cede too much information when jealous admirers wonder if it’s actually from Hermès. (Vague mentions of a waiting list always up the ante.) “Listen, tool bags have always been cool,” says Andy Scheman, of Scheman & Grant Hardware on Eighth Avenue. “Particularly if you know how to break them in.”