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March 21st, 2007 12:00 am Elianna Bar-el | Featured Stories

Thread Heads

WW checks in with three local fashion mavens to discover what they buy for their stores...and what they really buy for themselves.



Owner, buyer, designer of Phlox

Store vibe: Equal parts zen fabrics and flattering silhouettes.

Buys for her store: When Seipp scored a job transfer from Boston to Portland 10 years ago to work at Hewlett-Packard, she had no idea she would be moving to "one of the frumpiest places," fashionwise, she had ever laid eyes on. Fast-forward to spring '07, and Seipp has a new job and a new outlook. She opened Phlox (3962 N Mississippi Ave., 890-0715) last July to a host of style-starved Portlanders hungry to get their fix of brands like the ever-popular Three Dots, Nanushka and Corey Lynn Calter. One request? More adventurous ladies. "Portland is not quite cutting-edge," she explains. "Some women are still so unsure. They have to see it in magazines and on others first before they make the leap."

Buys for herself: Fishnet hose...from Fred Meyer.


Owner, buyer and designer, Una

Store vibe: Shanty antique charm meets international hotbox of designers.

Buys for her store: If Una (2802 SE Ankeny St., 235-2326) were a dress, it would be a thoughtful mix of eyecatching stripes and flouncy romance. With a few select racks of exclusive international and national designers sold nowhere else in P-town--plus designs by local couturiers Jess Beebe and Daniel McCall--this 2-year-old neighborhood boutique has been outfitting Portlanders in eclectic frocks by Brazilian-bred line Coven and chic, tailored cuts by Brooklyn-based Laura Seymour. A Bay Area transplant, Parolari has a sharp eye for mixing and matching. Una is peppered with whimsical found objects (from frequent jaunts to flea markets and estate sales) and a stream of refined yet dainty jewelry from traveling silversmiths. So it's no wonder that the artfully decorated space attracts fashion-forward tourists, locals and neighbors alike.

Buys for herself: "Used Ferragamo sandals that I relaced with purple ribbon and found for a whopping $5 at Goodwill. Or my Sears Capezio lookalikes [also found at Goodwill]. They're good-ugly!"


Owner and buyer, Le Train Bleu

Store vibe: Understated styles from thesartorialist.com.

Buys for her store: Initially launched online (letrainbleu.com) in February 2004, Portlanders couldn't wait to get Le Train Bleu (748 NW 11th Ave., 343-5140) in earthbound form. Luckily, Philips didn't take long to secure a Pearl District spot to stock her splurge-worthy collections of hard-to-find designer apparel from the likes of Australian-based Yeojin Bae to NYC's Vena Cava. The variety of cuts and colors at Le Train embody bohemian sophistication with a heavy focus on precise detail and craftsmanship. As for the newest trends from the spring runway, you won't find a metallic onslaught of spit-shiny items on Le Train Bleu's shelves. Although Philips doesn't turn a wholly blind eye to seasonal fads, she has a fixed British-pop aesthetic that rules her quality buys. "I find it impossible not to get excited about the newest, latest and greatest," she wholeheartedly admits. "But, I have a sort of twee dandyish streak. I like wool socks and sweaters and wellies and waistcoats."

Buys for herself: "My closet is full of skirts from Forever 21!" she admits. "Even with wholesale prices I can't afford to wear head-to-toe Le Train Bleu every day. I have a black trench from Old Navy [$39] that I bought a couple of years ago and wear a lot. I think a lot of my customers dress like this [mixing really special items and some cheapies]. I'm actually working on a new feature for our website called 'Hello, High-Low' where we style outfits with items from the store mixed with mall-brand and vintage items."

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