Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Do Not Fear Rivington Street

Window display at ANNIE O.
By Anita Sarko

Once upon a time, there were some VERY scary neighborhoods in Manhattan. As a general rule, once you stopped counting your numbers and began your ABCs, you were headed for a heap of trouble. As awesome as Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” was, actually investigating the locale the song was based on was a pretty hairy endeavor.

I could name MANY black sheep of important families who had happily swanned off to Alphabet City, Stanton and Rivington Streets in search of adventure and/or “treats,” only to return looking totally shell-shocked. This neighborhood kicked ass and took names and didn’t care if yours was in the Blue or Peerage Books: Just hand over the money and run for your lives!

Well, welcome to 2008! Whatever your opinion is of gentrification, Rivington Street has got to be experienced to be believed. One big difference is how friendly everyone is now. The new shops and restaurants are owned by eager youngish sorts who are warm, welcoming, yet too cool to be intrusive.
L. to r.: 50's/60's English-made Lord &Taylor Cape ($250), knit and curly lamb vest ($145), 70's handwoven English cape with attached scarf (#335) at EDITH MACHINIST.
One thing remains the same, however: Bring your money. This infamous stretch still caters to addicts, but the shift has gone from drugs to clothing. The only common denominator is that those making the best use of the stock are still identified by their extremely slim bodies. There IS a reason why the currently fashionable look has often been described as Junky Chic!

While there are still some older places that cater to vintage seekers, I’ve decided, except in two cases, to skip those and focus more on the newer group. One exception, EDITH MACHINIST (104 Rivington St., 212-979-9992), has goods that are many steps above the typical purveyors of previously worn garments (what my late mother delicately referred to as “the clothes of dead people.”).
At EDITH MACHINIST (clockwise from top left): Window display; Menswear ... 70's camera bag ($94), 50's/60's suede and knit sweater ($118), La Coste woven pink tie ($38), Gucci loafers ($220); Roberta di Camerino handbag ($455) and 50's/60's gold-thread woven bag ($155).
For one thing, you don’t have to dumpster dive through mothball-reeking stained low-rent cast-offs. For those who have Caped Crusader fantasies or just love the convenience of stylist tents as outerwear, this is THE place. There are scads of shoes, as well, but I would concentrate more on their fabulous handbags.

Even manbags can be found here, especially now that they’ve created a wonderful new men’s section, where I’m told, “The preppy stuff does great!” They even have their own line, Leafe Machinist, but, for some reason, I was asked to neither feature nor photograph these items. This perplexed me because they were really cute. Whatever ...
JESSE LeCOMTE coat and back detailing ($945/was $2000) at LE SOUS SOL.
Another great vintage collection (all on consignment) is found at LE SOUS SOL (137 Rivington St., 212.477.7723). Everything in this shop is made by those amazing designers from Belgium (the New Jersey of France). Though the vintage section is tiny compared to the other offerings, it’s SO worth checking out.

Only opened since August, proud owner Linda Belkebir told me, “I go to Belgium to introduce new designers. I’m bringing in shoes that no one else has that are made in Italy for Belgium designers.” Besides incredible pieces by Jesse LeComte and A.F. Vandervorst (“Only Jeffrey’s carries these and they only have FOUR pieces!”), you MUST check out the jewelry.
At LE SOUS SOL (clockwise from above): MINE white gold charm necklace ($532); SOFIE D'HOORE leather weekener ($350/was $650); A.F. VANDEVORST suede & leather boots ($450/was $900).
For goods that are equally glam, but less source-specific, wander into SUITE ORCHARD (145 A Orchard St., corner of Rivington, 212.533.4115). Sisters Cindy and Soni Huang have gathered such trendy labels as Jovovich-Hawk, Alexander Wang, Louis de Gama, Sue Stemp and Loeffler Randall (“She’s won CFDA awards. She started with shoes and this is her first season for ready-to-wear. We really do well with her!”).

There are also evergreens like Cacharel and Sonia by Sonia Rykiel. Only opened since April, the sisters distinguish themselves by declaring, “We carry higher end designers. We like to think of ourselves as a fantasy walk-in boudoir closet.” There’s also a sweet edgy jewelry collection that you can peruse while cuddling Louis, the in-store French Bulldog puppy. (Aw-w-w ...)
Clockwise from top left: ALEXANDER WANG georgette ($565) and LOUIS de GAMA wool suiting and chiffon ($896) at SUITE ORCHARD; JAMES COVIELLO velveteen ($304/ was $435), SENADA THEORY mud silk ($311/ was $445) and JAMES COVIELLO print ($294/ was $420) at HONEY IN THE ROUGH; CACHAREL silk chiffon ($469), SONIA BY SONIA RYKIEL merino wool ($435) and LOEFFLER RANDALL wool ($385) at SUITE ORCHARD; DRIES VAN NOTEN tweed double-breasted jacket ($450) and chiffon top ($180) at LE SOUS SOL.
If you’re a BIT past puppyhood yourself, check out HONEY IN THE ROUGH (161 Rivington St., 212.338.6674). As Ashley Hanosh showed me the expected Spring/Summer goods on her computer, “textiles” and “tailoring” were the buzzwords. “Babydolls are going out and tailored is coming in.” Ashley assured me. This is a super shop for well crafted unusual party dresses and the ready-to-wear collection by former Anna Sui collaborator James Coviello.

Speaking of old-school Rock & Roll fashion fabulousity, bop over to ANNIE O. (105 Rivington St., 212.475.3490). Situated in the Hotel on Rivington, this is the coolest lobby gift shop I’ve seen since the Hard Rock in Vegas. Owned by former R & R PR Annie Ohayon, the vintage dresses and t-shirts for kids are perfect for any pint-sized ACDC fan. Mom might be torn between the Swarovski crystal-encrusted jelly shoes ($25) or a diamond encrusted centipede necklace ($2,640), while daddy can get his own freak on with a 1958 Rolex with a repainted face (prices begin at $4,250).
At ANNIE O (clockwise from top left): ANTONI & ALISON change purses ($50-75), ANTONI & ALISON purse ($225), and LOLA Cadet Hats ($220); Rock & Roll vintage T-Shirt dresses ($85); WENDY STEVENS metal purse ($525), M. ANDONIA crystal-studded skull cosmetic case ($55), J. MASKREY Swarovski crystal-studded jelly flats ($25), 1958 Rolex ($4,250), and diamond encrusted centipede necklace ($2640).
Let’s face it: part of the reason we want to look spectacular IN clothing is to entice someone to take it OFF us. Alas: BABELAND (94 Rivington St., 212.375.1701). Geared more towards “the family jewels,” there are all sorts of things to drip on/lick off loved ones, from massage candles to massage bars (both in various delicious flavors) to “chocolate kits.”

As I leafed through the “Position of the Day Playbook ($12.95) and the incredibly specific “I Heart Brooklyn Girls at Coney Island” calendar (“featuring 12 local queer femmes!” $15), I heard the sales associate instruct a customer, “You can wear them while you go grocery shopping and exercise the muscles. And you can clean them!” I didn’t ask ... though I did see a nice collection of silicone toys that declared themselves “boilable.” For frugal lovers, or those on diets or needing hydration, purchase Babeland’s own water with its 10% off coupon label. For those more private about their privates, Babeland offers by-appointment before/after hours shopping and home delivery.

Now that I’ve got your attention:

All of these shops are receiving their Spring/Summer collections THIS month. So, get a move on!