Do you feel like you’ve forgotten how to get dressed up? There’s really no need to worry about what you will be wearing this summer (here in New York, anyway). Myriad stores and boutiques — selling original and interesting pieces for every taste and budget — abound.
Sadly, we have lost many local businesses that we loved and cherished due to you-know-what. The silver lining? New stores and boutiques are opening every week, and the hope is that will continue as New York slowly springs back to life. Some are brands we know and love; others are fresh and new digs opened by ambitious 20-somethings. Fashion is rarely static, they will tell you. Change is what makes it fashion.
Morgane Le Fey had a small boutique in SoHo that closed during the pandemic. The intimate Madison Avenue branch remained open, as well as their location in Santa Monica. Walking down Greene Street in SoHo, I discovered that they had opened a much bigger store in what used to be a 260 Sample Sale space. I knew it well.
Morgane Le Fey was conceived in the mid 1980s with a diaphanous feel using intriguing shapes. The look is a very individual and independent one; feminine yet not fussy.
The huge store is minimally designed using open spaces and large mirrors. Clothing is arranged by color.
The dresses on display are the more statement dressy pieces. Interesting clothes for everyday are hanging on the racks. Dresses, pants, jackets and more. The open and airy space suits the clothing.
Park benches define different areas. Dreamy white items are made for this summer. The brand’s studio is located in Chelsea, and all the manufacturing is done in the USA. If fabric is available, they can make extra pieces should they run out of a size in-store. They can also adapt some pieces for you.
Black is still a New York staple, but the colors on display might convince you to go for the color.
Red and pink outfits sit under the skylight at the back. A bit more daring than blues and greys. Each style comes in most of the colors on display. But the store is merchandised by color.
There are not many pieces on display. No mannequins, just artfully hung dresses that ask to be tried on. The clothes are full of volume but they are not aggressive at all. An independent designer’s touch.
Morgane Le Fay, 150 Greene Street between Houston and Prince
It takes a lot of guts to paint a boutique in a strong shade of green. Apparis was started by two French friends who worked in the luxury fashion business. They believed in the sustainable life, and their first hit with all the it-girls was a faux fur jacket. Other sustainable fabrics were quickly added. They took over the boutique left by Bulletin, a concept boutique that returned to a web-only business.
The label is dedicated to cruelty-free designs, sustainability, and most importantly — empowerment. It can also be very cheeky as well as chic. When I asked if a pair of satin pants were polyester, I was told that they were faux silk. Never heard that one before. And yes, they were polyester.
Pleather (faux leather), organic cotton, and other vegan fibers come in a rainbow of colors and shapes. I like the faux fur earrings, and the slides offer a cruelty-free option.
You can be a Faux CEO or a Faux Creative Director. Why not have some fun?
The store is full of fun. There are also items for your home, like the colorful faux fur throws. From coats and jackets to pants and shorts, and everything in-between, these clothes make a statement.
Apparis, 27 Prince Street between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street
Down the street is another small, independent woman-owned boutique called, Female Form. The owner started making and selling jewelry and then opened a shop for the jewelry and clothing.
The jewelry is displayed on several tables in the pale pink boutique. The store is small but offers a lot.
These shoppers were having a discussion with the owner. Small boutiques foster a more personal touch; and they welcome the interaction at Female Form.
There is a nice selection of dresses, bottoms and tops that are mostly American made.
There are feminine touches all over the store. Botanicals are arranged around the space — but what I liked best was the pile of books by the front door. They are not the glossy coffee table display books seen in so many boutiques, but rather interesting used books on a variety of subjects.
Female Form, 7 Prince Street (between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street)
Cafe Forgot is another new store near Dimes Square on the LES. Owned by two female friends, the brand had been a roving pop-up with a website since 2017. The store itself has a gallery-like format.
The clothing is displayed on a revolving rail, like one you would find at a dry cleaners. The orange button to the right makes the rack go round. There are fewer clothes in the store than on the website as the owners work with over 100 designers and artists. Less is more is the lesson here. The women have also launched their own perfume. The scent? Almond milk! With over 66,000 followers on Instagram, they are obviously doing something right.
The clothing is original. Each designer offers a completely different viewpoint. The backdrop to the clothing consists of a vinyl decal done by an artist. The decals will be replaced every few months with the work of different artists.
The owners (one of whom is on the left) have a great network of suppliers and collaborators. A strong background in fashion and the art world are probably why. The boutique opened the third week of June and it has already drawn many shoppers who remember their previous incarnations.
There are amusing items for the home, as well as handbags and clothing. Everything is made by indie artisans who have a unique point of view. You won’t see yourself coming and going when you shop here.
Accessories and jewelry are a big part of the mix. The rings in the tray on the left are by Blobb — a Mexican brand — and are hard to keep in stock. Each one is a handmade mini-sculpture embedded with different stones. The stock is ever changing; and fun. And we need to have a lot of fun this summer.
Cafe Forgot, 29 Ludlow Street (between Canal Street and Hester Street)
Over in the West Village, the Maison Kitsuné Archives has opened. Located behind the trendy Cafe Kitsuné, the Franco-Japonais subversive preppy brand offers timeless pieces with a twist. This shop serves as the outlet store for the brand. Merchandise is shipped from its Parisian, Japanese, Hong Kong, Hawaiian and New York stores. And it is sold at a discount. Since the style is classic, it does not date.
The brand’s signature Fox logo in neon sits at the back of the cafe, near one of the entrances to the boutique. Like the Paris cafe in the Palais Royale, this branch serves light fare and wine until 9 p.m.
There are clothes for women, men and unisex pieces, too. Some pieces have size runs, and some don’t. Their full-price New York boutique is on Lafayette Street in SoHo — if you want newer things.
Designed by the French and Japanese partners, the clothes mix the two cultures. I love the look of this casual jacket. It crosses typically French traditions, and quilting for casual, with a Japanese oversize fit.
There are shirts, jackets, pants and tees for men. The colors are fairly subdued.
But then, there is a flowered tee with the red fox logo, and logoed slip-on sneakers. Both of which are emblematic of the duo’s classic but sophisticated touches. Mixing cultures never looked better.
Maison Kitsuné Archives, 550 Hudson Street at Perry Street
Also new to the Village is the lifestyle brand from Uruguay, Felix. They have stores in South American, Tulum, and in Miami and New York. This Bleecker Street store joins the existing Nolita branch. This space used to house the contemporary boutique Blush.
The woven clothing for men and women is made using a fine linen. It comes in stripes as well as solids. There are also knit tee shirts. And you can find American Pendleton blankets and towels.
Colorful accessories come from around the world. Handcrafted hats are from Ecuador, and multi-color baskets and fans from Ghana. These pieces are handmade and one of a kind.
Since the clothing is classic, there are a minimal amount of styles — but they come in many colors.
Along with shirts for men and women, and loungy drawstring linen pants, there are short and long relaxed dresses in a few styles, and crinkly linen shorts. Clothes for elegant comfort that add beachside vibes to your life.
Felix, 333 Bleecker Street at Christopher Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.