For Those of You in Singapore… {Updated! Again!}

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

…well, get out that calendar, because the next few weeks are packed with stuff. Lots of shopping stuff. (And a little bit of dancing stuff.)

But first: I'm pretty sure no one does Christmas better (or cuter) than the Scandinavians, so I was thrilled to get an e-mail from Style:Nordic, which is all decked out for the holidays Swedish-style. Does it not look like the cutest Christmas stuff ever? I mean, are those gnomes? I love a good gnome.

Okay, then. Back to the calendar. We start with:
*Friday, Dec. 1 to Dec. 3: Hansel sample sale! A very reliable source just proclaimed designer Jo Soh to be the top fashion talent in Singapore, and now you can get her pieces at a reduced price. Hurrah!

*Saturday, Dec. 2: Shopaholic Aristocrats is returning to Graze. The last one was quite fun and intensely stylish. Wear your Marni.

*Saturday, Dec. 3: Salad is having a sale over on Haji Lane from 2pm to 7pm. 20 percent off if you have the coupon! (Do you need the coupon?) I saw them stocking lots of cute new Christmas-y and home stuff a while back, so I don't think I'll be able to resist.

*Tues.-Wed., Dec. 5-6: The Fancy Faire will be going on a the Orchard Hotel. And! Imeda will be there with what we suspect will be some lovely things.

*Sat., Dec. 9: Zouk Out! (Is it just me, or do you also always hear those words to the tune of "Freak Out!"? Um.) This is not exactly a fashion event per se, but I am using the all-night dance party on Sentosa as an excuse to debut a new and slightly silver-y vintage minidress, and so, it kinda is. For me, at least. Anyway. we're also very, very excited to see Astreal again, because they rock. (And the lead singer, Ginette Chittick, is a fashion designer. So there you go.)

*{New! And new date!} Sunday, Dec. 10: Suzanne at Swirl Boutique at 02-05 Stamford House just dropped me a note to share what they're doing next weekend, which I love. It's called "Swirl Swap Swop." and they're inviting you to clean out your closet and bring any unwanted old clothes down to the store next Sunday at 2pm. The first 30 girls who register (send them a note to sign up and get more details) will get to dump their clothes into a big pile and then pick out whatever they might want from everyone else. Sounds like fun! We've got half a mind to sign up ourselves, but the cleaning out the closet task might be sliiiiightly too difficult for us. You've seen our wardrobe. It's immense. We hope to at least go and enjoy watching the others, however.

Suzanne was too polite to mention this outright, but it's probably worth pointing out that if you're participating, you should try to bring along things that other people might like, and not your Grandma's old t-shirts. You know what I mean?

*Sat., December 16: Rapunsale at Loof, the fantastic rooftop bar over by Raffles. Lots of great vendors and two-for-the-price-of-one drinks. This just may be my favorite upcoming event, because of the sellers (Books Actually!, The Asylum!) and also because of the very cool invite.

Oh yeah, and I'm also looking forward to the move of Déjà Vu Vintage to the Meritus Mandarin Gallery on Orchard Road in December. Mostly because I could never get myself over to the original shop, which was kind of a shame because they seem to have lots of cute stuff. Stay tuned for more on that!

What have I missed? Please leave it in the comments. I like being busy.

When I Grow Up I Want to Go to Sewing University

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Where have I been this past week? Let's see – I took off the end of last week for Thanksgiving (even though I live in Singapore, I still observe American holidays, if only for the excuse not to work) and we headed up to beautiful Phuket to see Kevin, who had been jetting around the continent on his big Tour of the Orient. It was a real meeting of the minds – we discussed such important events as the break-up of Spederline and whether Mandy Moore or Amanda Bynes was the most promising talent. (I'm a Mandy fan all the way – mostly because I desperately covet her cute choppy hair, or at least her hairstylist – but the boys are all about Amanda's face contortions.) Er. Anyway. These are the things that one discusses when one is lazing around a white sand beach for four days.

I was back late Sunday night, just in time to attend the two-day Beyond 2006 design conference. It was really fantastic – full of speakers who are doing interesting things in fashion, advertising, architecture, interiors, photography and design. I realize more and more that the thing about being a truly creative person (or at least aspiring to be a truly creative person) is to *get out there*. Move away from the computer, if you will. See what other people are doing. If I could go to a design conference every week, I probably would. It does wonders for your creativity, though not so much for the massive amounts of laundry and magazines and e-mails that have piled up while I've been busy.

So, I'm back. I'm back to blogging, and I'm back to shopping, and I'm back to making valiant stabs at an ongoing list of sewing projects. Two weeks ago, it was an abstract apple-shaped pillow. Last week, I attempted (with moderate success) a retro-ish apron. This week, I'm tackling softie trees. My sewing teacher has been fantastic lately about letting me craft my own projects and then shepherding me through how to do them, which has been amazingly fun. And! Have you purchased your copy of Sew U: The Built By Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe yet? I finally picked mine up a few weeks ago and think it's the most amazing primer for someone who is learning to sew. (I still recommend getting a teacher, at least at first, but this makes a great companion, especially if you're starting from step one.)

So of course, I am seriously smitten, sewing-wise, with Wendy Mullin now. (Also with alliteration it seems.) Which brings me (finally) to today's post: The Bult by Wendy winter sale! It started last week. There's a ton of great stuff, like the Empire Penguin Dress (now $160) and Bauhaus Jumper (now $170) above, or the Long-John Minidress ($121, not on sale, boo) and the Chambray Two-Tone Top (now $81, below). Or really, just about everything else.

(Oh, and I finally went and bought these shoes. I just thought you might like to know.)

Recent Purchases

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Truth be told, I've been feeling a bit… underwhelmed by fashion lately. Part of it is due to the fact that I don't really desperately need much at the moment, and part of it is the annual Christmas money crunch, where my spare change is going towards the gifting of others. Part of it is that I haven't seen much that has excited me lately, and part of it is that the rest of the world is busy sporting leggings and knit tunics and leather boots (oh my!) and we here in Singapore are still sweating in our cotton sundresses. It's my first winter in the tropics, and I haven't quite figured out how to embrace cold-weather trends without quickly (and, I suspect, rather embarassingly) overheating.

(Side note: Which doesn’t mean I haven't spotted some valiant efforts to pull off leggings and tights here lately. In 90 degree weather. It kind of blows my mind.)

Of course, I haven't stopped shopping cold turkey (me? never!). Here's a few unique things that I've deemed worthy of my dollars in recent weeks (clockwise from top left):
--Amazing vintage dress (I'm planning to chop it short and use the bottom part for another project), $25 on eBay.
--Funky print dress, $16 on eBay (just look at that pattern!)
--Adorable letterpressed bird print, $13, from Round Robin Press' etsy shop.
--The fantastic book Inspired: How Creative People Think, Work and Find Inspiration, $35 on Amazon.

I think maybe I'll wrap them up and put them under the tree "from Santa."

Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You…

Monday, November 20, 2006

I have very little self-restraint, so it's really no surprise that on Saturday, when Mike asked what I wanted to do with myself for the day, I was all like, "Break out the Christmas tree and start decorating! Right now!" It's all still coming together, but let's just say I have already managed to fashion a pretty Hello Kitty! wreath for the front door. It's pink and white, naturally.

My merry mood was bolstered this weekend when I went to pick up the pile of Christmas cards above from hellosparrow (the Singapore artist formerly known as tiny red bird). I'd contacted May (the creative brain behind hellosparrow) a few weeks ago and asked if she'd be making any Christmas cards this year. There were two reasons: a) I really wanted to get my cards from a local artist and I think May is incredibly talented; and b) if you forget to order cards from the U.S. well in advance and are forced, due to time constraints, to purchase your cards locally in Asia, there is usually a high risk factor of getting something with a lot of glitter. (And not good glitter.) Or from Unicef, which is where I've bought my cards in years past. (Which still often involves a lot of glitter, but at least you know it's helping the kids.)

But this year, the kids will have to wait. (Sorry, kids.) Because May has designed a fantastic range of cards, which I'm so excited to mail out this year. (If you're in Singapore and are also in the market for some holiday correspondence, you can pick up her designs at the MAAD market, where she'll be selling every Sunday through December 24. If you're not here, you'll have to wait a few weeks to see the full five designs I bought from her – after all, I don't want to spoil the Christmas card surprise for anyone on my list. You understand.)

Normally, writing and mailing a very large stack of cards would be kind of daunting, but I'm so excited I can barely stand it. Bring on the Christmas!

Holiday Gift Guide: Colorful Comma Plates

Who says a good gift has to be pricey? I love these funky comma plates from CB2, just $1.95 each. Seriously. The whole set for six bucks, plus shipping. And, since CB2 isn't a brand that's easily available to most, it helps make them a little more special.

Via Swiss Miss.

Happy Happy Joy Joy: Su Blackwell

U.K.-based artist Su Blackwell been all over the Internet lately, which makes me very happy, because every time I see one of her amazing pieces (like the book cuts of Alice in Wonderland's mad tea party, above, or the Wild Flowers, below), I can't help but smile.

Holiday Gift Guide: Tea Time

A beautiful tea towel is one of those little luxuries that you almost never splurge on for yourself (there's always grocery or shoe needs that require more immediate attention, you know?). Which pretty much makes it the perfect gift. Tea towels have become a popular product for some innovative textile and graphic designers recently, so there are some really gorgeous ones available, and often for under $20. (Here are just a few that I've loved lately: The one on the left is from Atelier Lzc, $16 at Rose & Radish; the one on the right is Mozi Designs, about US$20 through their new global webstore or a local stockist). To finish off your gift, be sure to pair the towel with a pretty box of delicious tea (it is a tea towel, after all) – I personally love the modern packaging of Australian tea company T2 Tea (seen below, along with the Swirly Bird towel, $26 from Funktion Home).

If you're looking to bestow a bigger present, might we suggest adding some tea cups as well? Ever since Joy showed off what might be the most lovely wedding gift ever, I been thinking how great a set of pretty tea cups would be to have. Um, I mean give. (If you're a thrifter and can keep an eye out for these things, a mismatched set of vintage china cups and saucers would be an amazing gift.) I have some grand plans of sipping tea out on the veranda one day. Of course, first that requires a veranda.

Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

+I had another pic here before, but decided to swap in one of this gorgeous blue dress from Marie Marie. If only because it makes me want to go put on something really pretty.

+If birds were the new skulls, then it's pretty clear that horses are now usurping birds as the designer's motif of choice. I guess we should have seen this coming?

+Grace at Design*Sponge pointed out some of the great finds from Lucky mag's December issue gift guide, but be sure to also check out the Lucky website for a second batch of their gift picks, all under $50. (We are very partial to the bright pink Babell cake stand ourselves.)

+Have you seen the newly relaunched etsy v2? There are lots and lots of lovely handmade things to see, starting with these fantastic linocut print tea towels. The holiday ones would be such great hostess gifts. Very merry!

Print This

I've been slightly obsessed with boldly patterned pieces lately, a state that's probably directly inspired by Print & Pattern's recommendation of the book Print in Fashion by Marnie Fogg, a fantastic look at some of the key players and techniques in modern fashion textiles. As a result, I've been trying to read as much as I can about leading print-focused labels like Orla Kiely and Eley Kishimoto, and also looking to add more interesting patterned pieces to my closet. (Yep, it seems I'm over that neutral phase.)

Which is why I was immediately drawn to this cotton wrap dress by Taiwanese-born, New York-based designer Wenlan Chia, whose Twinkle by Wenlan collection (and new Twinkle Living housewares line) has been a industry favorite lately. I'd spotted a similar Twinkle dress in fantastic Singapore boutique Eclecticism recently, so when I saw this one on sale at Anthropologie when I was home in October, I knew I had to have it. (But please don't tell me if you've also seen it at an additional 40 percent off. I'd think I'd rather not know.) The shape is a classic wrap with some interesting detailing – especially perfect for work, which is how I justified it – and the pattern is a whimsical print of tropical flowers, birds and leaves in slightly muted colors like navy, gray, teal and pink. I love it more every time I wear it.

A Little Wishful Thinking

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dear Fairy Godmother,

Just in case you were thinking of waving your magic wand and buying us a present, we wanted you to know how much we love this Orla Kiely printed shift dress from Anthropologie. (It's $288, and therefore out of our rational budget at the moment.) We'd happily pick lentils out of the ashes for it. Also for her Greenberries laptop tote, just so you know.

And just in case you want to throw in a really cute top while you're at it, this Madison Marcus ruffled tie top from Girlshop really does it for us too.

{Update} Several shopping-savvy readers have pointed out that the Orla Kiely dress is marked down to $149.99 in Anthropologies stores, with an additional 40 percent off all sale items. An Orla Kiely dress for $90? Looks like my fairy godmother may have come through after all.

Back With a Vengeance. Kind of.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I've been out and about non-stop these past few days (seeing art and more art and slightly disappointing but very stylish flea markets and perfecting the most fantastic vegetable lasagna recipe ever), if that helps explain my absence. I haven't even had a second to spend with my new December anniversary issue of U.K. Vogue, which beckons me from the bedside table every time I walk past. A quick flip through shows it's worth my undivided attention (whenever I can get my attention to stop being so divided by things like cute wrapping paper and Veronica Mars season 1) – there are photos and fashions and other fantastic inspirations from the past nine decades, starting with the incredible quadruple-gatefold cover. Of covers. (I think April 1952 might be my favorite. Yours?)

Anyway, I'm back to providing my regularly scheduled holiday fix, so stay tuned…

Holiday Gift Guide, Kids' Edition: Alphabet Book

We first wrote about this months ago, back when illustrator Steve Mack was on "P" or thereabouts. Now, he's finished up his alphabet project and self-published a really adorable book of all the fantastic illustrations. It's available for $16.99 on Amazon – a very cute, creative way to celebrate the holidays with the little kiddos in your life.

Of course, it's still cute, even without the kids excuse. I put it on my wishlist for myself.

Holiday Gift Guide: Creative Labs Speakers

Lest we be accused of being an overly girly gift guide, we offer up this unisex idea: the colorful Vivid 60 mini-speakers by Creative Labs. (If you're in Singapore, you can get them for S$35 from any Creative store; in the U.S., they're available in the online Creative shop or on Amazon for about $30.) They're great for desk tops, small spaces, general rocking around your kitchen – just plug in and attach your mp3 player. Best of all, they come in a rainbow of colors, and you know how colors get us all excited. (I own red myself. You're probably surprised I didn't get pink, aren't you? Me too.)

Holiday Gift Guide: Philosophy Smelly Stuff

Scented things – be it candles, bath gels, perfumes – are a difficult thing to give as a gift. On the one hand, they're a catch-all (after all, no one wants to smell bad); on the other hand, one person's delightful lavender aroma is another person's UGH, BLECH. Unless you actually witness your gift recipient holding a candle to her nose and saying, "Ooh, yes, I would like to own this," it's best to steer clear.

But there is an exception to this rule, and that exception is Philosophy. Their "willpower shower" selection of bath gels are particularly fun – I mean who (besides the Grinch) wouldn't get a kick out lathering up with a scent like banana nut bread or pumpkin pie? (The scent washes away with the suds, just in case you have reservations about smelling like Betty Crocker all day.) Philosophy has compiled three a three-pack of pretty, holiday-ish scents – hot cocoa, apple cider and eggnog – in their Cookbook gift pack this year for $30. Cute!

On the First Day of Christmas…

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The holidays are upon us! I love nothing more than the whole Christmas-y bonanza, and keep asking Mike how soon would be too soon to put up my new tree. (This year, we've upgraded from decorating a houseplant to a slightly more festive fake tree. Hello, adulthood!) I keep checking in to my local Muji (the big new one in Paragon) to see when they'll be getting their Christmas supplies (as of yesterday, they haven't yet), because look how cute it all looks.

I've also been ferociously bidding on eBay for a vintage set of Tinker Toys so I can have a Tinker Toy tree just like Martha (below left). (She's got lots of cute Christmas crafty things to suggest too. I'm definitely making some of these paper ball ornaments, below right, out of cool printed paper.) Really, I'm just one step away from a cookie-scented candle, and that's really only because I haven't seen one in stores yet.

Come November 24 (a.k.a. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the official kick-off to the holiday festivities in the U.S.), I'll be ready to really break out all my lovely red and green stuff. But in the meantime, we'll be posting ideas for our very own Fashion is Spinach Holiday Gift Guide over the next few weeks. (There will be a list of all the suggestions somewhere on the left, so you can keep up and check back.) It will have nothing over $30 (though we reserve the right to change that rule should we find something really, really good), and lots of cool stuff to let your loved ones know not only that you care, but also that you want them to be well-accessorized. Hurrah! I mean: Ho, ho, ho!

{To get you in the holiday spirit of things, that up there is the card City Sidewalks from MOMA's new holiday card collection. Isn't it cool?}

Holiday Gift Guide: Hello Kitty! Toaster

Who wouldn't love this Hello Kitty! toaster, just $29.99 at Target? Practical and plenty of pink – 'nuff said.

Holiday Gift Guide: Little Odd Forest accessories

I've been meaning to write about Singapore-based accessories and housewares brand Little Odd Forest for a long time – I've been in love with designer Lynda Lye's handcrafted items since I first spotted one of her adorable Crowned Bird iPod holders months and months ago. (Hmmm… If Santa brings me a special edition (Product) Red iPod nano this year, I might finally have an excuse to get one!)

The Little Odd Forest website offers tons of really cool but inexpensive gifts – like (clockwise from top left) the chirpy bird coasters (US$5.80 for a pair), little mushroom pouches ($9 each), cute parrot pouches ($20) and other great bags, and anything with the adorable crowned bird logo (these pins above are just $1 each! Can we say stocking stuffer?).

They also have a growing list of international stockists as well as an etsy shop, if that makes your shopping easier.

And! Here's a fun fact: Did you know James from Bleubird modeled all the latest Little Odd Forest designs? Cute!

Hooray, Singapore!

I'm not Singaporean, but since it's my adopted home at the moment, I get all excited when one of my fellow islanders is recognized for something great. In case you missed it, the talented Imeda has been named a finalist in the Inhabit pillow design contest! Her designs here (as well as those from the three other finalists) are up for a vote on the Inhabit site until November 19, so check it out. Congrats!

Your Inspiration of the Day: Fred Eerdekens

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm on kind of an art kick these days and so… Mike was trolling around the Make Zine blog (as Mike is wont to do) and just showed me this post on Belgian artist Fred Eerdekens, whose unusual shadow art is absolutely amazing. He creates seemingly random shapes -- like squiggles, clouds and trees -- that, when the lights go down, make the most incredible shadow typography. It was too cool not to post. See for yourselves:

{Photos from here, here and here. You can find even more from all three sites.} And now, back to my personal Veronica Mars marathon…

City Shopping Guide: Tokyo

Friday, November 03, 2006

Here we go with the the second installment of the Fashion is Spinach city shopping guides, destination: Tokyo. It turns out a bunch of you are headed to Tokyo in the next few months and are looking for recommendations on where to spend your hard-earned cash. We aim to please in this category, so here are my picks from my recent trip on some of the best shopping spots in the city.

Keep in mind that as wonderful and exciting as Tokyo is, it has the *worst* address-location system in existence, so I've tried to give visual clues to these locations as well as street addresses when I can. And really, Tokyo is a city that's best explored by long, leisurely walks through each unique neighborhood – once you get to each area, try to meander as much as possible. It seems there are plenty of neat finds down every random alleyway.

To prep for my week of shopping, I armed myself with the Tokyo edition of the Luxe city guides (it has a daunting amount of information, but lots of good suggestions on what to see and do). I also had a copy of Lucky's guide to Tokyo (now online!) from the March 2006 issue – it's a little bit outdated by now, but provides some good suggestions nonetheless.

Finally, get thee a decent map as soon as you arrive – there are plenty of good, free ones available at the Tokyo airport or from any hotel. Many maps have major stores already marked on them, and it will prove immensely helpful when trying to navigate the tangle of streets in the city.

I've only been able to hit a fraction of the cool finds in Tokyo, so if you're a reader and you have suggestions of your own, be sure to drop them in the comments. Comfy walking shoes and big fat wallet ready? Okay, let's go.

Stop #1: Omotesando/Harajuku

These adjoining areas are a main hub of fashion and style in Tokyo, so you definitely want to spend some quality time here – maybe even a whole day (um... or three, if you're me). Start at the Omotesando subway station and head down Omotesando Street towards the Meiji shrine.

{Of course, if you head the other way out of the subway station, you can check out the amazing Herzog and de Meuron-designed Prada epicenter store. I couldn't actually find it myself – like many things it Tokyo, it's slightly tricky to locate by the address – but I bet if you ask anyone on the street where the Prada store is, you'll be there in minutes. It's often heralded as the coolest store in the city. 5-2-6 Minamiaoyama, Minao-ku}

Okay, got your Prada fix? Moving back down Omotesando towards the Meiji shrine, you'll probably want to stick to one side of the road, hit up the shrine, and head back on the other side – otherwise, you'll find yourself weaving back and forth across the street like a crazy person. On both sides, there's an impressive amount of fantastically designed luxury stores to ogle – Tod's is my personal favorite – with plenty of interesting shops in between.

If you're on the left (or southern) side of the Omotesando walking up towards the Meiji shrine, I'd suggest stopping keeping an eye out for these fantastic stores, in order of appearance: Santa Monica (vintage clothing), Kiddy Land (floors and floors of cute kids' things) and, once you've crossed the big intersection at Meiji Dori, a large branch of Chicago (a veritable vintage emporium of eastern and western finds, including army jackets, 70s dresses, cowboy boots and old kimonos and obis).

If you're heading up the other (or northern) side of the street toward the shrine, look for the Marimekko concept store (it's just off the road – keep an eye out for the big sign), and fantastic clothing megamall LaForet, where all the cool kids shop (it's just a few feet off of the corner of the intersection with Meiji Dori. Look for the big Topshop signs!). Also on this side of the street while walking towards the shrine, you can turn right down any of the little streets before you hit the Meiji Dori intersection and find yourself in the fantastic Harajuku neighborhood. There's a large amount of interesting fashion boutiques, vintage specialty sellers and other cool stores (including another huge branch of vintage store Chicago) so you'll definitely want to take a long wander up and down the neighborhood's main drags.

Be sure to make it all the way up to Takeshita Street (near the Meiji shrine, it starts just across from the Harajuku train station). This is the hub of crazy Harajuku culture, and it also has a large Daiso, the 100 Yen store, where you can pick up all kinds of cool Japanese ceramics and Hello Kitty! souvenirs on the cheap.

Keep in mind: To fully explore this neighborhood, come on a weekday, when the crowds are much more manageable than the packed-beyond-belief weekends. But that said: It's definitely worth a trip on Sunday afternoon to just walk around Harajuku – particularly Takeshita street, Harajuku Station and the nearby entrance to the Meiji Shrine (where I snapped the pic all the way at the top) – when the Japanese kids show off their crazy finest. Little Bo Peeps everywhere!

Stop #2: Shibuya

Shibuya's great stores might be my favorite place to shop in all of Tokyo. I always make sure to save plenty of time for Tokyu Hands (12-18 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ka – again, a good map that will have the store already marked will really come in handy here), which has floor after floor of fabrics, housewares, art supplies, kitchen utensils and anything else you can possibly think of. I always look for neat and relatively inexpensive Japan-themed finds, like sushi-shaped stickers and funky sesame seed grinders.

Not too far away is another fantastic (and slightly more upscale) emporium called Loft (21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ka), also chock full of fun stuff. The bottom floor (home to stickers and stationery products) and the top floor (funky items and kids' toys) are my favorites. Also adjacent to the basement floor is a large branch of Japanese "no brand" brand Muji, where I stocked up on basic tees and leggings, tons of office supplies and even some good undereye concealer (really!).

{Side note: I have made the journey over to the world's largest Muji store near the Imperial Palace in Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, and it's not really worth the trip. Don't believe the hype -- you'll do just as well in a large outpost like the one attached to Loft.}

Shibuya is a fun, lively neighborhood and really deserves some wandering around. Look for signs for a large Uniqlo branch (the Japanese version of Gap, a good source of jammies and other basics) as well as lots of little boutiques.

Stop #3: Nakameguro/ Daikanyama

On Saturday afternoons, you'll want to largely avoid the high-traffic areas of town, which makes it a good time to poke around these smaller neighborhoods just south of Shibuya. Start at the Nagameguro subway station and head a block or so over to the leafy little street that runs along the big stream. There are plenty of tiny boutiques to pop in as you walk down the street, like an outlet store for perennially chic French basics brand A.P.C. (11-25-1 Aobadai, Meguro-ku), which is still very expensive but worth a look. Almost immediately across the stream from A.P.C. is the very cute and universally beloved Cow Books (1-14-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku), which is where you can turn around and head back towards the train station. Along the way, there will be plenty of cute fashion and design stores to pop your head into.

Instead of going to back to the train, we headed the other way and essentially followed the train tracks up the hill into Daikanyama, a much busier shopping area. (There are a few great vintage shops along the way. I reluctantly passed up a *great* vintage trench coat with a rounded collar here. Say hello is you see it!) Again, I stress the whole "you need a map" thing here, but be sure to wander around the heart of Daikanyama -- the Luxe and Lucky guides have some suggestions here as well, but you can also just wing it -- and then get off the beaten path to find the shop from funky designer Limi Feu, Yohji Yamamoto's daughter (7-4 Daikanyama-Cho, Shibuya-ku – to get there, make a right of the Daikanyama main drag sometime around the giant flower that you see below and head down the steps to the cute little next street over).

We wandered this great street and went all the way to Shibuya from here – quite a lengthy walk – but I'd suggest grabbing a cab and taking it up to Shibuya station when you're done. Taxis are pricey in Tokyo, but your feet will thank you for the rest.

{Update} One of my new favorite shopping destinations is Roppongi Hills, the big mall in Roppongi. If you like Anthropologie clothing, you'll love some of the shops there. The West Walk 3rd floor section has some especially great spots -- I loved some things in both Relacher Trois Rounds and Tiara, and Agito is always great for decorating inspiration. The museum shop there often has lots of cool, artsy-fashion finds. And not far away is the new National Art Center, a fantastic building with a funky little gift shop in the basement.

Keep an eye out for the nearby Tokyo Midtown, a major shopping/entertainment complex which opens at the end of March 2007 and will include 21_21 Design Sight, which looks to be awesome.

Other noteworthy stops in Tokyo (both from my trips and courtesy of some readers):
+One stop shopping: Times Square in Shinjuku has a massive Kinokuniya (the amazing design-oriented Japanese bookstore), a Tokyu Hands and a Uniqlo, all in one enormous complex!

+Vintage and sewing finds: Reader Kat (who lives in Tokyo, the lucky girl) suggests the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa, a cool little town about five minutes from Shibuya by train, which has lots of little vintage shops. She also suggests her own neighborhood, Kichijoji, for crafty stores like Yuzawaya (Japan's largest craft store), Cottonfield (fabric, beads and buttons), La Musee (vintage beads and buttons) and more.

+Foodie shopping: Kat also recommends Kappabashi, on the East side of town, known for its fantastic restaurant supplies and famous plastic food.

+Hello Kitty! fans: Get thee to Sanrio Puroland, stat. It's not quite in the city center, but apparently worth the trip. {Sigh. I had to save it for my next visit.}

+Market finds: The Sunday market at Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku is small, but it had a fantasic selection of relatively inexpensive kimonos and obis (including the one above). I grabbed two bold-print obis for about $4 each – they make great table runners. It's a lovely way to pass a Sunday morning and see a bit of older Tokyo culture, though the rest of the neighborhood won't wake up until at least 11am.

+Looking for a hotel?: Jean Snow, who is the go-to blogger for the latest design news in Tokyo, has some very reasonably priced selections here and here.

Got more recommendations for your fellow shop-happy readers? Add 'em to comments, please.

*Last updated: March 24, 2007*

Please note: These guides are very labor-intensive and are meant to provide shopping suggestions to visitors and locals in each city. Please do not reuse or republish the information or photos without express written consent from the author.

Okay, Back to the Fash: CarolAnn Wachter

Thursday, November 02, 2006

While perusing the very pretty boutique Bird in Park Slope a few weekends back, I was immediately drawn to a simple but stunning dress by new designer CarolAnn Wachter. I love the easy elegance of her designs – there's definitely a bit of retro influence (like the dress below on the left), but it's always very subtle and subdued.

CarolAnn is trained as an artist, though I guess it's no surprise that someone who creates such gorgeous paintings (like this one below) is also able to create gorgeous clothes.

Quite Possibly the Most Perfect Shoe

I'm pretty much infatuated with these Mariana by Golc shoes (my favorite is the Madison model above, though they've got lots of cute vintage-ish styles). The low-but-chic 1 1/2" heel seems extremely walkable, and I love the saturated colors – a little something different, without going too overboard, you know? (Plus – added bonus! – they've got a little padding inside for extra comfort.) Hmmm… the eggplant Madison model is only $99 dollars over here (I've seen them for $115 and $135 in various Brooklyn boutiques that shall remain nameless). I really don't see how I can resist, and so will continue to abuse the "Well, Christmas is right around the corner" excuse a little more.

Think Pink!

In addition to the boxes of old magazines I keep and store, I have a half-dozen binders of my favorite article clippings that I've saved too. I love flipping through them – it's kind of like reading the world's perfect magazine, where every article and photo is handpicked to your taste. One of my longtime favorite clips came from Country Living mag courtesy of my mom – it's a kitchen decorated from top to toe in vintage pink appliances and accessories. I think of it every time I see an ad for Elmira's retro refrigerators (oh, if I had my way – and a lot of money – we'd have a fat, mint green fridge in a second) – and I'm pretty sure if I ever spotted vintage Western Holly appliances (like the pink kitchen's owner, Lynette Lewis), I wouldn't be able to resist.

Isn't it – and there is no other word I could use here – swell?

Dabbling in Design

Let's move away from the wearable for the moment...

Today, I'm completely enamored with the auction house Wright in Chicago, a source of amazing modern design auctions. I'd love to have a few of their auction catalogues (for sale, starting at $20) for my own reference library. Wright caught my eye recently in the NYT's T fall design magazine, where it was featured in an article on an L.A. home designed by modernist architect Pierre Koenig. The home has been restored and decorated by Mark Haddawy, owner of vintage mecca Resurrection (aha! there's a fashion connection!) and is now going up for auction in December. Wright commissioned amazing architectural photographer Julius Shulman to document the home for the catalogue, some of the photos from which you can see here.

There are plenty of other cool modern design finds to peruse on the Wright website as well (click on "auction" then "auction archives" to see the full preview for past auctions). For example: How much do I love this dorm room furniture set designed by Marcel Breuer for Bryn Mawr college? (Answer: So, so much.)