Thursday, September 6, 2007

I Heart End-of-Season East Hampton Shopping

The (literally) traffic stopping SPYKER C8 SPYDER (approximate MSRP: $257,000).
By Anita Sarko

It never occurred to me to go shopping in East Hampton. First of all, I live in Manhattan: What wonders could this little hamlet’s goods offer to ME? Secondly, the ticket shock I’ve experienced every time I’ve been presented with a bill in this sparkling gem-of-a-town has made me run for the hills ... or the train or jitney: One visit was sullied by a $27 tasteless overcooked and cold omelet; on another, I paid as much for one night in a bed and breakfast’s smallest room ... BEFORE the season officially began ... as the price of a round trip flight to Vegas plus three nights at the Hard Rock Hotel. Yes, this bed and breakfast was the best in town and the price included a lavish breakfast, but come on!

However, it was after that lavish breakfast that I discovered East Hampton’s shops were equal to its air quality. Being Mother’s Day, I expected that they might be shuttered. Instead they were all open and bustling! There must be a Holiday Equation: The number of hours spent with one’s family in enforced gaiety = x number of hours shopping in order to overcome the psychological damage incurred.
Jeweled Sandals: Princess heeled Disks ($335) & Flat Lizards ($295) at CASHMERE HAMPTON.
Sequined Linen Margaret "Heart" Dress ($185) at CASHMERE HAMPTON.
My first stop was NANCY & CO (66 Newtown Lane). I had NO intention of buying anything. I departed with an incredibly sexy black cashmere turtleneck. It had been reduced from $225 to $94! Before I knew it, I was running in and out of every store on Newton Lane and Main Street, beating myself up over not having more room on my credit cards or in my overnight bag to make a killing. All of the winter stock was DEEPLY discounted, all of it was gorgeous and so much of it was cashmere: I really needed cashmere basics because the moths in my apartment had been especially piggy and I was tired of pretending that the holes in my clothing were intentionally ironic. I managed to keep a grip on myself, despite the unusual and breathtaking flats at PAMELA FERRARI (23 Newtown Lane). I finally lost control at MAGASCHONI (75 Main Street) because I had to replace my ruined charcoal turtleneck and, since a beauty was reduced from $186 to around $90 ...

To cap off my new-found respect, I checked out the just- opened GAIL ROTHWELL LTD. (60 Newton Lane), whose high-end ready-to-wear combined the best and hippest of Madison Ave. and SoHo. When I later saw Rothwell and fashion maven Lauren Ezersky engaged in a fervent embrace on the street, I had to admit that East Hampton was definitely a shopping mecca.
Wool Blend Skirt ($298); Cashmere top ($168); GERARD YOCA Necklace ($138), at MAGASCHONI.
Double-faced Cashmere Coat ($1300) at MAGASCHONI.
NOTIFY Jeans ($290) and ORANGE LABEL Basic Sweaters ($175), at CHRISTOPHER FISCHER.
I returned at the end of this season. Sadly, the summer discounts I expected to find were non-existent. Even the flats I had hoped to score at Pamela Ferrari were completely sold out! There were still cashmere sweaters on sales racks from the winter before, but, mainly, the stock was geared towards Fall. “East Hampton is not a seasonal town anymore.” The “sales associate” at Magashoni admonished me. He parroted what I had just been told at CASHMERE HAMPTON (85 Main Street): Though there is always SOMETHING on sale, the new stock sells out as quickly as it arrives. As for the summer items, their customers continually replenish these as they move on to Palm Beach (where Cashmere Hampton also has a store) or plan their resort wardrobes. Drats!

However, strangely enough, the RETAIL prices were rational! At Cashmere Hampton, the standouts were the elaborately jeweled sandals, the stretchy lightweight Fabrizio Gianni cords and their private label clothing, Margaret “Heart”. At Magaschoni, the most expensive items were the double-faced cashmere coats ($1300), with most other items below $300.
MULBERRY Handbags ($995-$1500) at CHRISTOPHER FISCHER.
The exception to the sales drought was at CHRISTOPHER FISCHER CASHMERE (67 Main Street) where there’s always a 40% off sales room in the basement. The “Fall preview” cashmere prices depended on ply and degree of details, with basic styles being $175. The Notify Jeans were exceptional, as were the bags by Abaco ($595) and Mulberry. The lovely saleswoman explained that, though Mulberry is popular in Europe, Fischer has the first examples in the U.S. Unfortunately, as she enthused over the unique and trendsetting cuts of their cashmeres, I had to run outside because the overwhelming scent of lilies was making me ill. However, I saw what she meant by the great cutaway long sweater and cowl-necked dress displayed in the window.

Next was STEPH’S STUFF (13 Newtown Lane). This over-flowing toyshop combines both new and vintage toys. Stick to the new. “Ugly Dolls!” A doting daddy yelled. “They were sold out in Wainscott!” His brood of little girls immediately swooped down on the extremely popular collectables. Meanwhile, my eyes were bugging over the prices on vintage Snoopies: $175 for a large Macy’s Snoopy in a sweater and $125 for a small one in a windbreaker. My husband is a Snoopy enthusiast, so I know about Snoopies! Vintage ones actually decrease in value and you can find the largest on eBay for around $30. “Don’t reach in the window!” Steph admonished a customer. “No one’s allowed to eat in here but us!” She scolded another. Then she turned on me as I was taking a photograph (which she had given me permission to take). “Maybe you shouldn’t be doing that! You don’t have a card! How do I know you are who you say you are?”
Customer Alexandra Peterford happily discovers a treasure trove of coveted UGLY DOLLS ($12-$52) at STEPH'S STUFF.
Oddly, the only person crabbier was the girl serving up the ice cream and donuts at Dreesen’s. Aren’t toys and sweets supposed to be HAPPY things?

Hilariously, the one item that totally floored the serious shoppers at this very posh crossroads was not in any shop. It was a silver SPYKER C8 SPYDER, parked by a beachy blonde, who flung up an angled vertical door and stomped away. Crowds formed, traffic stopped, camera phones clicked away. It was utter chaos.

“Honey?” Said one codger gently to another, who was mesmerized. “You’re too old for that.”