I took it as a sweet omen when I bumped into citygirldc on the streets of Soho, a few blocks from our gathering spot for the YLF Fashion Week meetup, and we excitedly headed toward Le Pain Quotidien. The morning was grey—snow had been predicted, but thankfully never showed up—but with cheery greetings from Angie and a few of the other early arrivers seated at a long farmhouse table inside the cozy cafe, our spirits brightened. A festive tone was set right away, as YLF-ers filtered in and joined the party. Of course, everyone had dressed for the cold weather while managing to be effortlessly stylish, each in her own way. I got to enjoy up close the exquisite cut and details on a chic vintage jacket worn by Kindrex, who sat across from me with her warm and engaging mom, Debora. Gorgeous, uber-fab and killer to the power of killer, Angie wore a sharp green plaid jacket, turtleneck, skinny jeans and OTK boots, and everyone else in turn brought their fun fashion personas to the table (literally). Eventually we had all assembled, leisurely breakfasted and finished off with tea or coffee, had group pics taken thanks by our cute and helpful waiter, and decided it was time to check out downtown New York shopping.
Without a particular itinerary, we stepped out onto the pavement, waiting to see what might strike our fancy. The first store Angie wanted to try, Ted Baker London, wasn’t open yet, so we wandered into a place called Daffy’s, which turned out to be a bust, so we moved on to Topshop. Here the group finally started to shop in earnest. In the midst of all this, we were joined up by modgrl who had come up from Philly by train, and soon moved on to even better shopping—Bloomies.
Now we had hit our stride, and arms were soon loaded with things to try on. Some of us lost our hearts to handbags. Angie and I developed crushes on the same cream-colored Kate Spade bag, the “New Bond Street Florence”. In the meantime, modgrl showed us an example of what would eventually be “Dotty”, and we threw our energy into enabling this adorable bag, which was clearly meant to be.
Many of us were starting to find jackets and other items to buy or seriously consider. No matter what, it was fun to simply wander around the floor, soaking up the vibrant patterns, bold colors and clean, crisp displays. Blouses and blazers, delicious-looking pop-art clutches and sleek architectural sandals: it was all arranged artfully, in a serene setting devoid of loud, pulsating music (I’m looking at you, Topshop, as just one example of a place that could take it down a few notches). When a few salesmen came around with trays, offering us strawberries dipped in chocolate, or refreshing juices in long-stemmed glasses, I started to wonder if we’d wandered into a spa. Maybe foot massages were next?
Sadly, perhaps, we never found out how far the store takes its customer service. We left Bloomies and hit Club Monaco, where I hear a few ladies got incredible personal shopping attention from Angie, who helped them find some perfect dresses and blouses. Yay! I saw and tried on a beautiful sky-blue cashmere sweater (which did not go home with me…Club Monaco, how am I supposed to stalk your merchandise when you’re not online?).
Next up was a well-deserved break for lunch. We headed a few blocks east to Rubirosa on Mulberry Street, which turned out to be a nondescript little hole in the wall Italian place with some very good food. Here we were joined up by Greg, a cheerful veteran of these high-energy meetups and also an extremely generous and charming person in his own right; it was a delight to talk with him and hear his own perspectives on Fashion Week and a wide range of other topics.
Isabel, who was unable to join us in New York, had been gracious enough to treat our group to a bottle of Franciacorta (Italian sparkling wine). We toasted her and ourselves, and rang her up to say hi and thanks. And then there was the minor brush with celebrity! I will have to take everyone’s word on it, but apparently Andrew Shue (TV star from the 90’s…Melrose Place) and female companion passed right by our table, “looking like they wanted to be noticed,” according to one witness.
We toasted, conversed, drank and ate…and our waiter kept setting down food. Starters were fried calamari and salad, rice-and-cheese dumplings and spaghetti and meatballs. THEN came the main course: three types of pizza, a total of six pies for the table, that was beyond delicious, but just too much! As a group, we had had to agree to a fixed menu. Most of the pizza remained untouched—they offered to wrap it up, but obviously takeout pizza and high-end shopping don’t mix. We managed to fit a few cookies into our mouths before heading out the door, where Greg took street shots of our group posing in front of the restaurant. Having our pics taken by this consummate photographer, I felt connected in some irrational way to the excitement of Fashion Week.
After lunch, we decided to hop on the subway to take on the highly-reputed Nordstrom Rack at Union Square. The lines for the fitting room were crazy, so some of us stuck to items we could try on on the floor. Janet displayed her flair for finding amazing jackets, and Girl X was my cheerful companion, literally helping me try on and take off jackets with my injured arm. (Mwah!)
The group then headed for our next and final stop, Zara. Here more women ended up with some stylish items; for one, Angie found a beautiful black and white blouse and floral blazer for herself. As I’ve heard and seen for myself, Zara can be a fitting challenge, so our success rate was pretty high.
On the sidewalk outside Zara, our official meetup ended and we reluctantly headed off in different directions. I was so happy to have met everyone (oh, almost forgot to mention Lisa, who slipped out of the house surreptiously to join us for a few hours—woo hoo! Your shenanigans added so much to the afternoon). Diana and Crazyone, both down from Boston, and so cool to meet—plus, thanks for the novel recommendations, D! And Crazyone, can’t wait to see you upping the style quotient around town with your Zara purchase. Sophisticated, literary, Brooklyn-based Kindrex; down-to-earth Debora; Jjsloane, whose wit and good spirits further brightened our outing (and who, like Deb, traveled all the way up from Virginia—but for the day!); modgrl with her easy conversation and her eye for perfect go-to handbags; Janet, whose wardrobe is outstanding but whose fabness has surely been longstanding; Zapotee, a NYC pro who was my right-hand woman—I could not have organized this without her good-natured assistance, and hope to have many future shopping adventures with her; Girl X, whose cartoon, tossed off with all the coolness of a casually perceptive genius, catches our likenesses most brilliantly; the fun and friendly citygirldc, full of urban anecdotes and great (and growing) style; and Bella, who lives up to her YLF name and in part due to the killer quality of her own blog outfits has been one of my YLF icons of chic for a while here. And of course, superstars Angie and Greg.
Thanks to all of you for a perfect day. We have to do this again real soon!