Tag Archives: NY Times Critical Shopper

The NY Times Does J. Crew’s New Men’s Store, Thom Browne Does More, & Ike Strikes The Princess!

Hello-Hello and Happy-Happy! We are most happy to be back in the land of functioning  technology. The Princess learned to live without the internet or telephones following 7″ of rain here at Preppy Princess InterGalactic Headquarters, compliments of Hurricane Ike’s remnants.

With things a bit out of whack for two days (an eternity when one feels out of touch with the rest of the world,) we enjoyed the benefits of catching up on paperwork whilst alternately shrieking and whining gently nudging the Vice-President of Technology (aka The Princess Consort) for updates. However, we have absolutely nothing to complain about when looking at those truly suffering as a result of the hurricane; out little outage does not even merit mentioning.

A quick note on chocolate for all of our readers who love to bake…

… more ‘premium’ baking chocolate is on the way from our good friends at Ghiradelli. Having reached the conclusion there isn’t enough high-end baking chocolate out there in groceryland, soon there will be more 10 oz. bags of the addiction-creating-ingredient on the shelves at your local market. (Unless it is already on the shelf, depending upon the part of the country where one resides.)

TP has already advised Cook of the news, although we aren’t entirely sure she will be overly excited, as we fear she procures her chocolate from a secret source known to only a few, a connection initially created by the Queen Mother years ago. To promote the new line Ghiradelli had a number of pastry chefs create new chocolate-filled delights; if one is inclined to experiment, here are the recipes. Whatever chocolate one elects to use for baking, we just couldn’t leave the topic without sharing these divine chocolate shoes from Gayle’s Chocolates, simply too pretty to eat, but divine when you do! Yum.

Chocolate Gift Shoes from Gayle's Chocolates
Chocolate Gift Shoes from Gayle’s

Regular readers may recall our early September post about the NY Times Critical Shopper’s column on their visit to designer Thom Browne’s store. The paper must be on a preppy style binge, as today’s Critical Shopper column is about J. Crew’s TriBeCa Men’s shop.

Donna Alberico for The New York Times
Donna Alberico for The New York Times

Most readers will remember the fanfare surrounding the store’s opening in mid-August, including our column on the topic. The menswear only store is located on (and in) the former Liquor Store bar, a noted TriBeCa landmark.

One of our favorite writers at the Times, Reporter Mike Albo pens a more than positive review of the “stylized lifestyle boutique for men” in his signature style.

“It’s a little embarrassing to think I once had a prep prejudice. These days the preppy look is to a guy’s wardrobe what corn syrup is to beverages. There is no way to avoid its presence. Everyone wants a good blue blazer, madras shorts and tweed tie. Unless you dress in moose pelts or your name happens to be Criss Angel, you can’t help but look slightly collegiate all the time.”

“You can’t blame J. Crew for cashing in on the megatrend. In collaboration with the Jack Spade founder, Andy Spade, J. Crew took over this neighborhood watering hole, which is on the ground floor of a landmark building dating back to 1825, and created a men’s boutique that still looks like an old-fashioned liquor establishment, except in place of bargoers and pint glasses, there is merchandise dangling on shelves and racks, as well as on top of the bulky, well-worn wood bar.”

Surprisingly, the sale of men’s clothing is actually on the rise as the opposite proves true for Women’s apparel and accessories. Some credit the trend to nattily-dressed characters in television shows, like the always-dapper Don Draper from Mad Men on AMC. (We couldn’t help ourselves on that one;  alliteration reigned triumphant in the construction of that sentence. )

Back to the review, one would not expect *all* of Mr. Albo’s comments to be positive, and they aren’t:

“Still, some items were so outrageously preppy, I felt my original odium for the style rising in my throat like bad grain-alcohol punch. A series of knit ties in bright colors, $49.50, brought to mind a tragically alcoholic dorm mate from college on his way to a football game, and a quilted patchwork tote, for $850, was something his equally blotto girlfriend would use to carry around her pumps and kegger go-cup.”

“A small glass case at the front of the store displayed vintage watchbands, belt buckles, aviators and pencils that have been chewed by the celebrated TriBeCan writer Max Blagg on sale for $25 each. Yes, that’s right —chewed pencils for $25.”

Indeed. To be fair, the pencils sale is noted in the column as a promotional gimmick; even so, it’s a bit edgy for TP. Pencils or not, we can’t wait to visit the store next time we are in the city.Whatever you do, don’t forget the Free Shipping on all sales over $100, ending tomorrow at midnight. The promotional code is SEPTEMBER.

On to the news that designer Thom Browne (seen above at the close of his runway show at last week’s NY Fashion Week) will be doing even more creating, in this case for upscale French firm Moncler.  Trade publication DNR reports today that Mr. Browne will be designing a Moncler Men’s collection for  the next three years. According to DNR:

“This brand strategy resembles that of Browne’s collaboration with Brooks Brothers, called Black Fleece. That union is lauded partly because Browne’s aesthetic is highly influenced by mid-century Brooks Brothers.”

TP has made no secret of her disdain for much of Mr. Browne’s initial Black Fleece Collections, more so on the Menswear side than with the Women’s collections. This year’s line shows far more wearable looks as noted in the photos below.

The Princess believes Moncler’s clientele may find Mr. Browne’s outrageous looks just grand and TP’s perception of them déclassé.

A few more quick reminders before we dash off for a little volunteer duty:

Kurt Iswarienko/Bravo
Kurt Iswarienko/Bravo

Enjoy! We’ll be back once we catch up on the frightening amount of email we missed in the last few days.


Filed under preppy

The Shocking Pink Chair, Michael’s Million Dollar Donation, Thom Browne & the NY Times

This is one we simply couldn’t resist when we saw it online at the Boutique’s website. The Princess wasn’t looking for a chair, let alone a flaming fuchsia chair, but we somehow stumbled onto it whilst searching for a new Isaac Mizrahi Collection at Target.

The Pod chair in Hot Pink is available online; TP doesn’t know if one can purchase it in stores or not. Target is suggesting this zany lamp as a coordinating piece, but we don’t believe it works well in the Palace, so we shall have to pass on its unique design.

Have a tiny prep in the household who might enjoy this delightful little pink chair? This pint-sized piece of pink puffery is only $19.99 as of this writing, and it looks ever-so-cute. (“When all else fails, alliterate…”, from the film ‘Network’.)

If you are still looking for pink furniture, Target also offers the pink Cloud Chair & Ottoman. (Ouch.) Of course, there is always the Bungie Low-Back Chair in pink and black. A side note here: The Princess really feels compelled to share her impressions of the Cloud Chair. From our limited online perspective it looks like faux fur that may prove…ah…that may prove…um, may prove…yes, it could be difficult for the household staff to keep clean. What with the dog’s hair and all. We’re just looking out for your staff.

We take a moment now to revisit noted designer Thom Browne. (Regular readers have been subjected to enjoyed TP’s thoughts on Mr. Brown’s ‘look’ in previous posts.) It would seem his standalone menswear store has enjoyed a visit from the Times’ “Critical Shopper” columnist Mike Albo. Perhaps enjoyed isn’t the appropriate adjective; we’ll say ‘experienced a visit,’ that might be better.

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Photo: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Mr. Albo has also done Critical Shopper columns on the new Rogan store (click here for more) and the Brooks Brothers on Madison Avenue (click here for more of that column) at 44th. The photo above is from the February 2007 Brooks Brothers column.

How did Mr. Albo find his visit to Mr. Browne’s emporium, or more accurately Mr. Browne’s designs?

  • “Across from the gray-hued garments, for example, was a selection of jaunty sweaters. A $3,500 thick cardigan was striped in navy blue and red, and a V-neck tennis sweater for $2,875 looked as if it had been ripped off Jay Gatsby’s dead body.”

(Mr. Browne is seen in his own design above left.)

Mr. Albo is not without humor. In describing a brightly hued overcoat he says,

“Past the three-way mirror was a rack of hilarious outerwear, including an overcoat in a queasily cheery yellow plaid for $4,500 that no one should buy unless he is an exhibitionist looking for a more eye-catching cover-up before exposing himself on the subway platform.”

The entire column is not all pokes and jabs at Mr. Browne’s design aesthetic, who also designs the Black Fleece line for Brooks Brothers. It also makes numerous complimentary points, at one point describing the suits as “light and good-natured, not dogmatic and snobby.” Mr. Albo refers to formalwear as “…beautiful…successfully blended Mr. Browne’s traditional and experimental sides.”

Here at the Prepatorium we simply adore the Critical Shopper; previous columns covered Tory Burch, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Steven Alan. (Note: these links are to the individual designer pages, not the Times columns.)

it is always fun to read another individual’s perceptions of the brand and/or the physical stores selling that designer’s apparel and accessories. Stop by the Times and read this Critical Shopper column, or better yet, peruse some of the back columns, including the previously mentioned Steven Alan review.

Many a preppy is familiar with Steven Alan; we were nudged to pop into the online shop when reminded by the Shopper’s column on the store. We feel compelled to let you know they have several of their men’s “basics” on sale, including the Hidden Button shirt, a classic.

Additionally, many of the Reverse Seam shirts are marked down along with other styles. On the Women’s side, TP is ecstatic to see the Dieppa Restropo Black Patent Lace-ups, although these treasures are not on sale. Of course not.

And while not for us, we do find the Hope Shirt to be absolutely adorable, perfect for someone perhaps a tad younger than TP.

Many of the Kids’ styles are on sale, and while adorable, they are also out of season, to be expected at this time of year. Below, the Girls Camisole Dress.

And ladies, after seeing a quick peek of the Spring 2009 line, we think you will find it more than appealing.

An update now on über-athlete Michael Phelps that many of you are likely to have already heard: he is donating his $1,000,000 bonus from Speedo to his charitable program. (You know, that little check promised if he won all eight Gold Medals.) You can see him below, receiving the symbolic check from the head of Warnaco, owners of the Speedo brand.

Business Wire

Photo: Getty Images/Warnaco

The Michael Phelps Foundation’s “Dream, Plan, Reach” program is going to focus on teaching more children to swim as well as instilling self-confidence in them. Phelps phans can see their hero on Oprah’s season-opener next Monday, along with 149 other Olympic athletes. The 8-time Olympic Gold Medalist was mobbed in Chicago when he arrived to tape the Oprah show.

AP/M. Spencer Green

AP/M. Spencer Green

Below you see Phelps helping a girl learn to swim at a Visa Grant for Early Swimming Program discussion at the McBurney YMCA in New York on Aug. 28th

REUTERS/Joshua Lott

REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Mr. Phelps has been a busy man. In addition to the many public appearances he is called upon to make, he has also purchased a 4000+ square foot apartment on Baltimore’s rejuvenated and renovated waterfront. The apartment has a stunning view, a Jacuzzi and many other accoutrements.

Good for him, he certainly has worked hard enough.

And one more update related to the Phelps family, with news that Debbie Phelps has actually signed a formal one-year agreement with Chico’s clothing. The deal calls for Ms. Phelps, who is a school principal in Baltimore (among many, many other responsibilities that can only have multiplied recently), to promote the company’s merchandise. In exchange Chico’s provides apparel, accessories, as they reportedly did for her appearance on that same Oprah Winfrey show. (You may want to take a glance at the Debbie Phelps Collection, recently supplemented with far more items than previously contained in the group.)


Filed under 2008 Beijing Olympics, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, preppy lifestyle, Updates