shopping 01.23.06

Retail Therapy: Soho

Soho gets dismissed these days as a big shopping mall — the implication being that the neighborhood, no longer a cultural Mecca, has come down in the world. But we always have a good time among its occasionally cobbled streets, its cast-iron facades and its concentration of gleaming shops. We keep away, for the most part, from West Broadway, and we like to hit the stores on a Saturday just when they're opening (usually at 11), before the hordes arrive.

Right now, Soho is on sale — the stores that weren't having a sale were the rare exception this past weekend. Even the fabulous 19th century Chinese gilt and lacquer opium bed at Annick de Lorme, 120 Wooster [Prince/Spring] 212.219.0447, was marked down from $20,000 to $14,000. At the other end of the scale, it's hard to beat $1.25 for wooden hangers at Pearl River, 477 Bway [Grand/Broome] 212.431.4770. We love everything about the store, including its cheesy water wall. There was something so Pearl about seeing an employee unpacking large paper umbrellas and blow-drying them to get the wrinkles out.

Besides the clothes, we like the themed dressing rooms at Ted Baker, 107 Grand [Mercer/Bway] 212.343.8989, and besides the merch at Jonathan Adler, 47 Greene [Broome/Grand] 212.941.8950, we like its unSoho vibe, since it is relatively cluttered, brightly lit, and you're likely to hear cheery car music playing.

The fire over the weekend at 575 Broadway caused extensive damage throughout the building, including Prada and the restaurant Lure, both of which boast noteworthy designs. We hope they recover soon.

Soho has changed a lot over the years, but in one way, not at all: cash up before you come since there still aren't many cash machines in the whole neighborhood.

The color palette of Marston and Langinger paints, created by this British company that evolved from a design studio, is beautiful, though not cheap: $50 for two-thirds of a gallon.

Kidrobot, 126 Prince [Wooster] 212.966.6688, purveyor of art toys and generally cool stuff, teamed up with Visionaire magazine to create two sets of limited-edition toys (a yellow set and a blue set) designed by Gucci, Armani, Vivienne Westwood and other clothing world notables. $175.

Liora Manné, 91 Grand [Greene/Mercer] 212.965.0302, the Israeli-born designer who does pattern better than just about anyone, is having a sale on select handbags. She also designs extremely appealing furniture, rugs, lighting, and home accessories.

Atelier, 125 Crosby [Jersey/Prince] 212.941.8435. Hip clothing for guys from designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and Undercover.

At Catherine Memmi, 45 Greene [Broome/Grand] 212.226.8200, you can pick up a reprint of an Elle Decor article on the designer and see her gorgeous weekend house in Normandy, with its exceedingly clean lines and muted tones. The shop is filled with ways to Memm-orize your own house. It's the fragrances, though, that we're especially drawn to — we love the soaps, candles, and room sprays. The 'herb' soap smells something like the old Herbal Essence shampoo, though it's a bit more subtle.

At the just-opened Todd Oldham by La-Z-Boy, 73 Wooster [Spring/Broome] 212.226.4908, there's a distinctly mid-century modern flavor to the designs. Flying out of the store (at $550 a pop, framed) are the limited edition silk screens by the wonderful (and underrated) Charley Harper. We hear Mr. Harper will be having a one-man show in town this April — we'll let you know the details when we get them.

De Vera, 1 Crosby [Howard] 212.625.0838. We'd be hard-pressed to name a store in the city with a better aesthetic than De Vera — the objects here are selected by Federico de Vera, who has an unassailably exquisite eye. The corner of Crosby and Howard isn't the most predictable place for all this beauty, which only adds to the charm. The 7th floor of Bergdorf's (more predictably) also has a selection of Mr. de Vera's finds.

When the double-decker tour buses arrive, we duck into Kelley & Ping, 127 Greene [Prince] 212.228.1212, for a reliably delicious cheap lunch, followed by dessert at Sweet Melissa, 75 W. Houston [W. Bway] 347.594.2541.

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