Right now, the sky is opening up over all over our city and raining down chic little (and not so little) boutiques. OK, maybe autumn's freshest trends are stumping even the savviest shopper (if you don't have anything mauve with your first initial on it, you might as well be wearing acid wash), but you still have to shop, don't you? So isn't it nice that you have these new hot spots to swipe your card? I thought so.
30 NW 12th Ave., 241-1355
Finally ensconced in the 1906 Weinhard Ice & Power Plant Building (part of the increasingly hip Brewery Blocks project), Diesel has stocked its store with that signature rode-hard-and-put-up-wet merchandise you love to pay too much for. Diesel is a men's brand at heart, but there's a healthy flirtation with androgyny here--in the his-hers navy and lavender sweater knits, the pink racing stripes on a chocolate-brown jacket, the "plant mister" look of the fragrance bottles. The decor embraces that industrial shabby-chic style pioneered--but by no means perfected--by Urban Outfitters, and it's the ideal backdrop for mass merch that looks handmade. Does Diesel's distressed and topstitched aesthetic spell curtains for local designers? Not so long as a jacket costs $259. That said, there are some bargains here, too. Happy coveting.
2285 NW Johnson St., 222-4848
Blake Nieman-Davis brings heavyweight retail chops to his eponymous jeans boutique. A 34-year-old Portland native, BND spent several years working for the likes of Federated and Kenneth Cole Reaction in New York (he even endured the vaunted Macy's buyer-training program--thrills!). After a stint in San Francisco for Villains, Haight Street's legendary cluster of streetwear boutiques, he headed home to open his own store. His experience and contacts help him locate and lure rare denim brands like Levi's Red and LVC into the shop, and the nearly 20 denim labels here are backed up by cute unisex apparel by Fred Perry, Ben Sherman and Kangol.
"Buying jeans can be a miserable experience," says Nieman-Davis. "I'll spend hours with someone finding the right fit if I know they'll go out the door happy." Awww.
1740 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 234-LILY (isn't that cute?)
Local designers Jasmine Patten and Keri Roberts have joined forces to launch a Southeast boutique devoted to wearable wares by Portland's best and brightest. Operating on the few-of-a-kind model, the store will feature exclusive designs from the two owners' lines (Dervish and Ipseity, respectively), dance and yoga-inspired apparel, feminine dresses and separates from Michelle DeCourcy, hats from Pinkham Millinery, bags and belts from kbh and Double Cross, and a small selection of men's clothing. To celebrate its opening, next-door neighbor Castagna has concocted a Dragonlily cocktail: brandy, lime juice, red-currant purée and simple syrup in a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass. Sweet, tart and berry-colored--so Autumn '03!
Pioneer Place, 700 SW 5th Ave., 226-3280
Ever since young Louis left his childhood village to found the House of Louis Vuitton in 1854, LV has distinguished itself as the world's best luggage company. Vuitton's stackable travel trunks were a sensation when they first appeared during the reign of Napoleon III, and they still are today. And although the idea of sending one of them through baggage claim seems laughable, you still kind of want one, don't you? The once-family-owned company has become a property of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), one of those fashion mega-conglomerates the magazines grumble about. But look at the bright side: Corporate reach and resources have enabled Portland to score its very own boutique (before Seattle!). The store not only stocks the legendary trunks, but bags, clutches and satchels of all description--most emblazoned with that unmistakable, oh-so-fakable logo. Don't miss the gem-encrusted, snakeskin and embroidered satin kitten heels in rose, red and silver--a mere $540. Meow!