Cheryl shops...for a wedding dress (but not for me!)
Let me preface this post by saying I AM NOT ENGAGED. There. Now that that's taken care of, I had the pleasure of accompanying my friend MM on Saturday on her first wedding dress shopping trip. I've never been shopping for a bridal dress before (I'm not counting the time I went with my friend JC to get her alterations done), so I approached this trip with an open mind...and a bit of excitement. Like many girls, I love a good wedding; knowing MM and how she dresses regularly, I was interested to see what kind of gowns she'd go for.

Our first stop was Bridal Reflections, which is in a nondescript office building on lower 5th Avenue. Our saleslady let MM walk around and pick out the dresses she liked; we then had a private suite with three-way mirrors, a little platform for MM to stand on, and chairs for all of us in MM's entourage. MM fit in most of the samples quite nicely, but the saleslady would pin everything so we'd get an idea of the fit. I don't know whether it was that MM picked dresses that suited her or that they were all very well made (probably a combination of both), but MM looked really good in everything she tried on--she tends to like simple detail like draping or ruching in the bodice with a clean A-line skirt, and there were two really strong contenders at Bridal Reflections.

We then headed to The Bridal Garden, which sells showroom samples and once-worn gowns at up to 75% off retail, with proceeds benefiting Sheltering Arms children's charity. This is a very noble pursuit, and logical--why spend $5,000 on a dress you're going to wear for only a few hours? Why not get a preworn one when no one will no the difference, and it'll benefit charity? I feel like we all know someone who knows someone who got a Vera Wang dress for $400 there. And I'm sure that has happened, however...the showroom is tiny, with three fitting rooms on one side. The one woman who appeared to work there was neither helpful nor cheery. Also, she informed us we'd have to wait for a fitting room, so MM just stripped down to her undies and started trying on dresses in the middle of the store. After all, it became apparent we wouldn't be there for long. The dresses are self-serve, organized by size, and stored in plastic dress covers, although considering the state of most of them, the covers seemed like an afterthought. While we grabbed gowns by Amsale, Wearkstatt, and Ulla-Maija for MM, they were all dirty and/or damaged, with holes, broken zippers, and stains. Yes, you can probably get rack dirt removed at the dry-cleaner's, but pen marks and perspiration stains? Hell no. So factor in the cost of repairs, alterations and cleaning (which may or may not actually work) and...well, you decide whether it's worth the tradeoff. So while were all let down by the experience, I saw another customer who was roughly a size 4 trying on a gorgeous trumpet-hem dress with lace-inset cap sleeves. It was gorgeous, it fit her like a glove, and it was pristine. Go figure.

Our final stop was the infamous Kleinfeld, which functions like a well-oiled machine. Seriously, it's like a factory, with an assembly line and all. Our saleswoman here asked MM what she liked, and she did a good job of bringing her stuff based on description alone (there is no rack-browsing at Kleinfeld). MM found two more gorgeous dresses, then narrowed it down to one, which was definitely in the top two of the day. To help persuade her, we ventured out into the main salon, which had much better lighting and mirrors, and we were visited by the vail saleslady (I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the price tag on the very simple veil MM tried on) and the cheesy jeweled-hairpiece guy, who was conducting a trunk show (the beautiful but not totally spectacular hairpiece he was pushing on MM cost almost as much as the dress she loved). Also conducting a trunk show: Project Runway's Austin Scarlett, who now designs for Amsale, and who wears more makeup than most women I know, has a disproportionally huge head, and, if he were a woman, would probably be a size 2. He smiled at me, though it was probably a smile of pity (it wasn't until Kleinfeld that I discovered my top was totally see-through). While MM was being fawned over by various salespeople, I looked around at the other girls being fawned over by other various salespeople and...yikes. I know there's no such thing as an ugly bride, but I think there sure are ugly bridal gowns. That's all I'm going to say about that. Still, while it's fun to get all caught up in the bridal-salon experience--and there's nowhere better to do it than at Kleinfeld--you've got to keep in mind that the bridal industry is a mutli-billion-dollar business. It's enough to make you want to just buy a white linen dress, hop on a plane, and get married on the beach in Antigua. Tempting, no?

MM's next plan of attack is to hit the E. 9th Street boutiques, which will probably be a totally different experience. And since I live 5 blocks from them--and because Saturday was so much fun--I'll hopefully accompany her. Because, while it's fun to help your girlfriend pick out the perfect dress, you're also gathering information that might come in handy one day. You know, just in case.

P.S. I apparently can't post photos at the moment, so sorry this entry (and the next one) is so boring!
The week in shopping
I miss Otte--I used to live around the corner from the West Village store, and they have great sales; at this one, score Rebecca Taylor, Ya-Ya, Paul & Joe, and more. Noon-8, noon-6 Sun.; 121 Greenwich Ave. (Jane & Horatio Sts.), 132 N. 5th St. (Bedford Ave. & Berry St.), Williamsburg.

Get your whistles and teams together, ladies: Bridal gowns from Monique Lhuillier, Oscar de la Renta, and Carolina Herrera are $499 and up at Kleinfeld's one-day sale. 8/3; 6-9; 110 W. 20th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Twin Brooklyn stores Bird and Baby Bird have Mint, 3.1 Phillip Lim, A.P.C., and other must-have labels for up to 75% off. Through 8/13; 220 Smith St., 428 7th Ave., Brooklyn.

Pricey, modern Desiron furniture is now 10%-20% off. Through 8/31; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 151 Wooster St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

The random sample-sale place on 5th Ave. has men's and women's Calvin Klein, Moncler, and Cerruti for a mere $29.99. Through 8/6; 10-7, 11-7 Sun.; 260 5th Ave. (28th & 29th Sts.).

Hip Williamsburg boutique Jumelle has Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Eley Kishimoto, Grey Ant and other hot lines for 35%-50% off. Through 8/13; noon-8, noon-7 Sun.; 148 Bedford Ave. (at N. 9th St.), Williamsburg.

Kipepeo's retro handbags (now $110-$383) and jewelry (now $33-$131) are up to 30% off. Through 8/31; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 250 Elizabeth St. (Houston & Prince Sts.).

Get Liz Lange's pricey maternity wear for $40 and under at this warehouse sale. Through 8/3; 11-6; 958-960 Madison Ave. (75th & 76th Sts.).

Park Slope's Kiwi has Blue Dot, Corey Lynn Calter, Rebecca Beeson, and more or 20%-60% off (now $39-$279). Through 8/15; 11-7 Tue.-Fri., 11-6 Sat., noon-6 Sun., closed Mon.; 78 7th Ave. (at Berkeley Pl.), Park Slope.

Get 20% off new furniture orders at Property. Through 8/31; 10-6 weekdays, noon-6 Sat., closed Sun.; 14 Wooster (Grand & Canal Sts.).

Spring shoes are 50% off at Hollywould's website (much better than battling the crowds at her tiny Elizabeth Street store!).

Get a free hot salt scrub with your $75 order at Bliss when you enter code 086402 at checkout through 8/31.

Saks has free gifts with purchase when you buy select denim, but, be forewarned, they're kind of lame.
Project Runway recap
I want to go out for drinks with the person who designs the challenges for Project Runway, because they've just got to be a super-creative, fun person. As a dog lover, I thoroughly enjoyed last night's episode, where the designers had to pick a toy dog (toy being miniature, not fake), design an outfit for the dog's owner, then design a coordinating outfit for the dog. I loved how all of the designers (well, except Laura) were totally into their dogs--and some, like Vincent, were a little too into the dogs, but I still thought it was sweet (and it was hilarious when his dog kept trying to take off its hat on the runway). Bradley, in some kind of weird pre-birthday crisis, was not having a great time creating his outfit (and I thought his dog collar was kind of a cop-out), but I thought the finished product was really interesting-looking, and the gold-and-blue motif was color-coordinated rather well with his pup. Keith turned his nose up at kind of the essence of the challenge, pretty much refusing to design anything for his crazy Chinese crested dog, setting the stage for future annoyances that are sure to come. I loved Alison's modern, not-at-all-cutesy ensembles, but I'm happy Uli won the challege--she should've won last week's Miss U.S.A. challenge, but her gown was probably too sophisticated for pagentry. After seeing last week's and this week's episodes, I'm kind of shocked that Angela is still on the show, but I'm glad that Katherine went home this week--I think she, instead of Malan, should've taken the fall last week. Her dress was cute, but it was plain, and she fell into the "spent more time on the dog's outfit" category. And, as a side note, I was happy to see Vera Wang on this week's episode, instead of Michael Kors. I always love Michael's bitchiness, but sometimes it's nice to have some actual constructive criticism. And Vera is both incredibly talented and business-savvy--qualities that would befit Project Runway's winner.

Next week--dun dun dun!--a contestant is asked to leave. Is it sabotage? Is it...drugs? I'm intrigued.
Website of the week
I often get emails from readers looking things, ranging from obscure designer handbags to clothes or accessories worn by celebrities. I try to respond to everyone, and I'd say that, as hard as I try, I'm successful about two-thirds of the time. So for all the people out there whom I can't help, or for those who want a more direct source, I read about a new website in Monday's Post. According to the article, NessaLee Style was born out of 24-year-old Jersey girl Vanessa Antonelli's search for LC's double-ring handbag from the first season of Laguna Beach. Countless handbag orders later, she created her own website to sell clothes seen on your favorite TV shows (especially The O.C.) and celebrities. You can shop by category, by designer, or by celebrity, and if you don't see what you're looking for, you can just email Vanessa; she'll even help you find items she doesn't stock herself. However, after shopping by celebrity, I must say I'm not very impressed. If you love Jessica Simpson, you're in luck; otherwise, it's kind of slim pickings. Also, there's at least one inaccuracy: The scarf pictured below (please note, I can't link directly to anything for this site), on pre-nose-job Ashlee Simpson, is without a doubt Alexander McQueen (as is every other celebrity's skull scarf), but the site tries to pass it off as a $50 nondesigner style. Um, not so much.

Also, I find it hard to believe that every celebrity pictured here, including Ashley Olsen, below, is wearing a pair of $84 Rachel Pally leggings.

Still, there are some cute things to be had, like this well-designed City Tote by Anna Corinna.

This bubble tank by Jak & Rae is a straight-up bargain (on sale for $36), and the volume looks perfect when paired with skinny jeans or leggings.

I own two very similar sweaters like this one by Inhabit, and I highly recommend them, but even though this one is on sale, it's still a little pricey ($193).

I think this leaf lariat is really pretty, organic and unique.

And, as we all know, I'm a sucker for butterflies, and this dress, by One Teaspoon, has a rather amusing name: "Hi Honey, I'm Home."

So unless you're the ultimate Jessica Simpson fan, I suggest just browsing the site by category or by designer, but if you're looking for that bikini Lindsay Lohan was wearing last week, try contacting customer service. Or, if you prefer, just E-mail me first--I'll do my best to tell you who designed it and, hopefully, where you can get it.
Cheryl shops...L.A.
When I go on vacation, I generally like to 1) shop, 2) eat, 3) look at art, and 4) tan, in that order. As one might expect, I was able to do all four (yes, even look at art) on my vacation last week, but since this is a shopping blog, I'll be focusing mainly on the shopping part (which, with maybe the exception of eating, I definitely did the most).

Sunday, MW & I (with the lovely HG) had macrobiotic brunch, then hit Melrose for some upscale and vintage shopping. Our first stop was the revered Fred Segal, which I found...extremely disappointing. First of all, the layout of the store is extremely kooky--it seems cobbled together from multiple buildings, some of which you can get to from another, but others you have to go outside. Not to mention, the whole thing was mazelike in layout. The Ron Herman part had some cute stuff, but everything I liked--mostly tanks and tees--was $80 (more on that later). The top floor is pricey designer stuff--Pucci, Marni, etc., and none of it was on sale. And aside from the lovely girls in Apothia (the toiletries boutique), the store had some of the snobbiest salespeople I encountered in L.A. (but, again, more on that later). Fred Segal was, however, the site of my one and only celebrity sighting in L.A.: Isla Fisher, the redhead from Wedding Crashers (and, for the record, she's so tiny, I could put her in my pocket). We also hit Decades, the vintage emporium that's more like a museum--I saw a vintage Chanel suit (with original tags attached), several Mary Quant dresses, a crocodile Kelly bag, and more drool-worthy items. Downstairs is Decades Two, which has more recent, pre-worn items, but, from what I saw, at prices not terribly lower than the upstairs boutique. We also hit the two Marc Jacobs boutiques--the Marc store is like a party, and it's where I fell in love with the delicious Cotton fragrance. One of my favorite stops of the day was the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, which came highly recommended by my acupuncturist, Julie, and did not disappoint--I have never seen so many macrobiotic cookbooks in one spot. We continued the crunchy-granola theme of the day with drinks at the next-door Urth Caffe, then headed back to the vintage end of Melrose, which, we all decided, reminded us of 8th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the Village. I got an awesome I. Magnin sweater dress with satin cuffs (it's a blatant Chanel ripoff) at The Wasteland (which, coincidentally, has an awesome selection of hip, pre-worn, recent clothing--think Marc by Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu, at pretty reasonable prices); MW got a black velvet jacket (which I've been suggesting he buy for over a year now) at Aardvarks, which, we all decided, had a great selection and the most reasonable prices of all the vintage stores we hit that day.

Monday, MW and I were on our own, so we hit Beverly Hills, baby! It was ridiculously hot that day, so we opted to drive along Rodeo Drive, instead of walk--after all, who were we kidding? It's not like we were actually going to buy anything there. But since I make a personal point to hit as many Barneys as I can, we headed over to the Beverly Hills Barneys on Wilshire. It was, in a word, a jackpot. While MW had to physically drag me away from the shoe sale racks, I managed to escape up to the Co-op floor, where I plundered the racks. Just as I suspected, Angelenos have yet to appreciate the genius of Daryl K., so there was a ton of her stuff on triple-markdown. (And while there was a lot of stuff on sale, the racks were totally ransacked and a mess, and a lot of the clothing had stains and tears--I feel like that would never happen on Madison Avenue.) For good measure, we also hit Saks and Neiman Marcus, but both were kind of a mess (it was "last call" sale time), and when a woman started going ballistic when someone's kid hit her on the head with a shoe at the latter, we decided we'd had enough. And because it was well into the mid-90s by then, we needed to beat the heat and thus headed to the Beverly Center, a ginormous, quintessentially Californian mall. We didn't spend much time there, since, after all, it was a mall, but I am happy to report that the Macy's stores on the West Coast are much nicer, and carry Seven jeans (the real ones) and Marc Jacobs.

By Tuesday, we discovered that we could beat the heat by heading out around 11 a.m., walking around for an hour and a half, then eating lunch during prime heat hours. So that's what we did that day, heading to the famed Robertson Boulevard. We started out at Maxfield Bleu, which is supposedly the clearance center for the uber-expensive Maxfield boutique; and while, yes, most stuff was marked down considerably, everything was still waaay out of our price range (but now that I know that Rochas is no longer in existence, I'm kicking myself for not having splurged on a collector's item). We also hit Lisa Kline, which reminded me a lot of Scoop and had many $80 T-shirts; Diavolina, which had a fun mix of shoes and mid-range designer clothes; and, of course Kitson, which, considering it was a zoo, was actually kind of fun, however, again, all the T-shirts were $80 (they have a nice selection of starlet-friendly dresses too, for considerably more), so we left empty-handed, although MW was tempted by a $300 cashmere Curious George hoodie (it was cooler than it sounds). My favorite store from this area was definitely Madison (pictured to the right of Kitson, above), probably because its merchandise was the most New Yorky (read: lots of black; cool designers like Vanessa Bruno and Woo) and, perhaps related, its salespeople the most snobby. But I got two really cute babydoll tops on sale, surly salesgirl be damned.

Wednesday morning, our last day in L.A., we hit my final must-see shopping stretch, which was 3rd Street. While this area had everything from a Sigerson Morrison to an awesome travel bookstore to one of those "only in L.A." boutiques called Puppies and Babies, my favorite was the Bead Boutique, where I got to work making an awesome three-strand necklace that, as soon as he saw it, MW remarked was "so Cheryl." It ended up being, um, a bit pricey (and, yes, I'm sure I could probably hit the bead district and make something similar for considerably less), but I console myself with the fact that it's kickass--and one-of-a-kind. I'm sure there's a simliar store in NYC, and I have to find it, because, seriously, I think I could make necklaces all day. It was that much fun. I also hit the much-buzzed-about Satine, which, in a word, rocks. They have a carefully chosen selection, and prices were not totally outrageous. I could've spent hours there, but we had to hit the road to head to Palm Springs, so I settled on a gold Lurex A.P.C. dress that I'd never seen before and that was a sweet 70% off. I'm planning on wearing it to my high school reunion, which is coming up in a few months.

As for Palm Springs, we didn't do much shopping there for several reasons: 1) the daytime temperature was between 110 and 120 degrees the entire time we were there, so we didn't do much of anything (but it was a dry heat!), and 2) all the shops were either closed for the summer or closed at the grandma-oriented hour of 5 p.m. The main shopping district of the area is called El Paseo, and it's technically in Palm Desert, about 30 minutes east of Palm Springs. There are a lot of galleries with cheesy Native American stuff, stores my mom loves (Chico's, Coldwater Creek), and more fashiony stores (BCBG, Saks Fifth Avenue). However, MW and I walked about 20 feet, noticed most of the stores were closed, then decided to call it a day. We had considerably better luck at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets, about a half hour west of Palm Springs. It's owned by the same company as Woodbury Commons, so it had many stores in common, pardon the pun--a Dior outlet, Space (Prada & Miu Miu), Barneys, and Saks, among others. I was disappointed that the True Religion outlet (only in California, kids!) wasn't open yet, but I got a cute striped sweater at Bebe, of all places, and hit the jackpot at L'Occitane, where I found my moisturizer for $2. I bought 10 of 'em, which should last me a year or two. And, this isn't exactly shopping, but I highly recommend the spa at the Spa Resort Casino; MW and I had a couple's massage and the "taking of the waters," and it was truly a transporting experience. And as MW said afterward, "Okay, now I get why people like going to spas so much."

So, okay, to be honest, I kind of loved L.A. Everyone was really nice and mellow (my friend ES attributes this to the fact that everyone is from the Midwest), the weather was hot but still way nicer than the nastiness of NYC in the summer, it was rather easy to stay macro out there, it's just plain beautiful, and this observation took several days to sink in, but it's just not crowded, with the exception of the freeways (which we avoided like the plague). We'd go to stores, and there would be maybe one or two other shoppers there most of the time. At first I thought this was because of the heat, but then I realized that while L.A. is huge and sprawling, it's not overcrowded. And I even didn't mind driving--granted, I was rarely out during rush hour, nor was I on the freeways, but the driving was actually kind of nice. Now, I'm not going to ditch my beloved NYC--I realize that it takes quite a bit of money to live comfortably out there, the people are slightly plastic, and I have no idea what I'd do all day--but I can safely admit that I enjoyed L.A. as, at least, a shopping, er, vacation destination. I know that statement makes me a bad New Yorker (aren't East Coasters supposed to have an intrinsic hatred of the West Coast?), but, hey, I'm from Chicago after all, right?
The week in shopping
Awesome-fitting James Jeans for men and women are $25-$90. 7/26-7/28; 10-7 Wed. & Thurs., 10-5 Fri.; 500 Greenwich St. (at Spring St.), ste. 202.

A cutting-edge boutique on one of my favorite streets in NYC, Mick Margo has Vena Cava, Lewis Cho, and other under-the-radar designers for up to 70% off. Through 8/15; noon-7, noon-6 Sun., closed Mon.; 19 Commerce St. (west of 7th Ave.).

Home and fashion accessories are up to 50% off at Cheryl Shops fave Auto. Through 8/13; 11-8 weekdays, noon-7 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 803-805 Washington St. (Gansevoort & Horatio Sts.).

Ultra-hip boutiques Key and Poppy have covetable labels Lauren Moffatt, Mint, Rachel Pally, and more for 40%-75% off at this cash-only sale. 7/28-7/30; noon-7; 41 Grand St. (at Thompson St.).

Meet Project Runway's Kara Janx on Thursday at Girlshop's Meatpacking District store; she'll have exclusive fall dresses, plus, girly drinks from Midori are free! 7/27; 6-8:30; 819 Washington St. (Little W. 12th & Gansevoort Sts.).

Score fun summer shoes for up to 70% off at Nolita boutique The Shoe NY. Through 8/11; noon-7 (closed Sun.); 262 Mott St. (Houston & Prince Sts.).

For the Japanese-loving avant-gardists out there, you can save up to 50% at Pleats Please Issey Miyake. 7/27-8/6; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 128 Wooster St. (at Prince St.).

For the sharp-dressed men out there, Union Square mainstay Rothman's has Ted Baker, Hickey Freeman, and Burberry for up to 40% off. 7/27-8/10; 10-7, noon-6 Sun.; 200 Park Avenue South (at 17h St.).

West Village culinary paradise the Art of Cooking has table linens, cookware, and decorative accessories for up to 50% off. 7/25-7/29; 11-7:30; 555 Hudson St. (W. 11th & Charles Sts.).

Lederer's fancy-schmancy handbags are a mere $79.95 at this sale (they're usually $159.95-$499.95). Through 7/30; 9:30-6; 457 Madison Ave. (at 51st St.).

Sturdy MZ Wallace bags are 50% off (now $63-$250) at this sale. Through 7/31; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 93 Crosby St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Spend $85 on fragrance or beauty at and get an awesome, sample-filled makeup bag when you enter code GWPSJBAG at checkout through 7/30.

Denim-and-tees sample sale outfit The Art of Shop is having its first-ever sample sale online; register first, then shop. It starts at noon on Tuesday, then ends at 11 p.m. on Thursday.
Cheryl Shops L.A.: coming soon!
Next week I'm taking a long-overdue vacation to L.A. and Palm Springs, to visit friends, chill out, and, of course, shop. I'll be back in NYC the week of July 24th with a full report on the Southern California shopping scene. Please check back then!
Project Runway is back!
So, I must admit, I was up until midnight last night--between The Hills, So You Think You Can Dance (seriously, this is one of my favorite shows right now), and the double Project Runway episodes, it was far too much quality TV in one night! The "Road to the Runway" pre-episode featured everyone from Santino to Chloe interviewing prospective candidates, who ranged from the quirky to the flat-out weird. We also got updates from season one's Wendy Pepper, Kara Saun, Austin Scarlett, and Jay Carroll, all of whom--except maybe Jay, who might kind of have his head in his ass--seem to be doing quite well. On to the first real episode. After a little champagne reception on the rooftop, the designers were given their first challenge: to design a dress with materials found in their apartment. Cut to designers frantically ripping down curtains and un-uphlostering the furniture. Vincent, the oldest of the bunch, is clearly a bit kooky, based on the upside-down basket hat he sent down the runway. I'm intrigued by Laura, the 42-year-old mother of five and architect with a distinct fashion sense (but no formal fashion training); Malan, the bizarro continental-type guy; and Alison, who may or may not be talented, but she's so cute, I already have a total girl crush on her. And, I loved the dress that Michael, the hip-hop guy, designed for the challenge--it was totally girly, made out of coffee filters and looked like light-as-air chiffon. Keith won the challenge with the first dress he ever made (beginner's luck!), but I think Robert, the Barbie-clothes designer, was robbed--his "if Maria from West Side Story had wall hangings" dress was absolutely adorable. I think he's the one to watch. Any man who survived working under Isaac Mizrahi is a winner in my book.
This is old news by now, but Target announced last week that my former neighbor (literally, she lived on the 5th floor of my old building, not that I stalked her or anything) Behnaz Sarafpour is the next Go International designer. They'll unveil the collection next week, and it drops in November, just in time for the holidays--perfect timing, because Behnaz makes such wonderful party dresses.

And, this is kind of kooky but fun. I love Built By Wendy, but don't wear it as much as I'd like to, because I feel like I'm not really hipster-y enough to pull it off. But I'm going to put my fears aside for the time being, because Built by Wendy has a new line of sewing patterns for Simplicity (um, that means they're easy!), and they're having a contest to win a $100 gift certificate if you send them photos of your creation (sewn from the patterns, of course). Contest aside, seriously, how cute are these clothes? I think I love the top the most. Patterns are a mere $14.95 (you're responsible for buying the fabric--I recommend hitting Mood on 37th St.) and, yes, you can order them straight from Wendy's site. Looks like it's time for me to bust out the sewing machine (yes, MW, I know I have to sew our living room curtains first)!
Website of the week
I will admit to being a bit of a perfume snob--not price-wise, but exclusivity-wise. For example, I love that, pre-Lovely, Sarah Jessica Parker wore Skin Musk by Bonne Bell. I, on the other hand, wore Dolce & Gabbana (the original, in the red bottle) for years, and while it didn't appear to be very popular in Chicago, I moved here and started smelling it on women I passed on the street. Now, I realize that unless I get a custom-blended (and ridiculously expensive) scent, not ever smelling my perfume on someone else isn't really an option. I will never "steal" another person's perfume, especially if they're a friend or someone I see on a regular basis, but if someone asks me what I'm wearing, I tell them, because, well, I'm not a very good liar. I rotate between two fragrances from same designer (I'll give you a hint--he's French), and so far, I haven't had to give them up. I do have two back-ups in case that does happen, but it's always good to have more. And the more obscure my back-ups are, the better. Enter LuckyScent, a website that's for true fragrance junkies. Carrying everything from limited-edition Comme des Garçons perfumes to obscure Italian and French scents. You can shop by brand if you're looking for something in particular, or--and I think this is the fun part--you can shop by notes, everything from "floral fruity" to "warm/earthy" and even "foody" for those of you who like to smell like, well, food. The cool thing is that I went straight to "floral spicy" and didn't recognize any of the scents. Hello, obscurity!

Les 4 Saisons - Hiver
has pretty much every fragrance note I love, so it's definitely a contender.

tiptoeing through the chambers of the moon
has a name that's so great (and a bottle to match), you can't help but be intrigued.

I also checked out the nifty Luckyscents astrological guide, which recommends scents based on your sign, and that's how I came upon the promising-sounding Omniscent 0.96 by YOSH.

Now, you're probably thinking, "This is all very interesting, and perhaps useful, but I'm not dropping $130 on a perfume when I don't really know what it smells like." Which brings me to an excellent feature of LuckyScent: You can order a sample of every fragrance they sell. Prices range from $2 for Red Flower scents to $8 for the rare Untitled #1 by Josh Han, but most are $3 or $4. And if that's not enough, there are also reviews posted for each fragrance by true perfume junkies, who often include tips on layering complimentary scents (which seems like too much work to me, but is interesting nonetheless). Shipping is an affordable $3 for samples or $6.95 for everything else, via FedEx Ground, but since LuckyScent has recently opened a real bricks-and-mortar store in L.A., I'll definitely be visiting it next week when I'm there on vacation. Because, well, it's an excuse to go shopping, and sometimes I just like to see where my nose takes me.
Posts coming tomorrow
Ack, this two-hour Project Runway is killing me! I'll post about it--plus the website of the week and a long-overdue MasstigeWatch! tomorrow. I promise.
The week in shopping
Celebrate Project Runway's third season with a trip to Emmett McCarthy, where his summer line is on sale, and you can also score items from season two vets Chloe Dao, Kara Janx, and Gay Uncle Nick (a.k.a. Nick Verreos). 7/12; 11-8; 240 Elizabeth St. (Houston & Prince Sts.).

Lauren Moffatt's girly dresses, skirts, tops, and more are $40-$180 at this cash-only sale. 7/11-7/13; 10-7; 214 W. 29th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 1503.

Nanette Lepore's dresses, tops, and more are at least 50% off at this sale. 7/12-7/13; 9-6; 225 W. 35th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 4th fl.

What gal doesn't love the uber-naughty Agent Provocateur? Treat yourself to a sexy set for 50%-70% off. Through 7/31; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 133 Mercer St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

One of my Lower East Side faves, Shop has MarieMarie, Development, and Chip & Pepper for up to 70% off. 7/15-8/15; noon-7:30; 105 Stanton St. (at Ludlow).

Upper East Side shoe mecca (and "Kate" Holmes favorite) Chuckies, has shoes and accessories from Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, and other in-demand brands for 50%-70% off. Through 8/8; 1073 3rd Ave. (at 63rd St.), 1169 Madison Ave. (at 85th St.).

Brooklyn transplant Castor & Pollux has Mint, Rodebjer, and other indie labels on sale. Through 7/20; noon-7, 1-6 Sun., closed Mon.; 238 W. 10th St. (Bleecker & Hudson Sts.).

Lucky fave Addict has, well, addictive labels like Sass & Bide, Cacharel, and Barbara Bui for 30%-75% off. Through 7/15; noon-7, noon-5 Sun.; 20 E. 12th St. (5th Ave. & University Place).

Atrium sibling Esthete is taking 30% off its limited-edition collections from 3.1 Philip Lim, Rogan, Rozae Nichols, and others. Through 7/30; call 212-620-3120 to make an appointment; 416 W. 14th St. (9th & 10th Aves.).

Fun Nolita boutique I Heart has United Bamboo, Sonia, and other downtown-girl designers on sale. Noon-8, noon-7 Sun.; 262 Mott St. (Houston & Prince Sts.).

Love Cynthia Rowley? Grab her girly dresses and separates for $50 and up (like 75% off) at this sale. Through 7/16; 9-7 weekdays, 11-7 weekends; 267 5th Ave.

Frenchie clothes are up to 80% off at Lilith. 7/14-7/31; 11-7, noon-7 Sun.; 227 Mulberry St. (at Spring St.).

Hello, brides: Bergdorf Goodman has bridal gowns from Carolina Herrera, Badgley Mischka, and Melissa Sweet for 50%-85% off (that's $700-$2,500). Through 7/15; 10-8 weekdays, 10-7 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 754 5th Ave. (57th & 58th Sts.).

Make like Beyoncé and score some Giuseppe Zanotti shoes for 50% off. Through 8/31; 10-6 (closed Sun.); 806 Madison Ave. (at 68th St.).

If you've always wanted to buy your wedding dress at a place with the word "atelier" in the name, hit Bridal Atelier by Mark Ingram for gowns by Angel Sanchez, Monique Lhuillier, and other big names at up to 80% off. 7/12-7/13; call 212-319-6778 for an appointment; 127 E. 56th St. (Park & Lex), 3rd fl.

Semiprecious jewelry is 50% off at West Village fave Catherine Angiel. Then treat yourself to some sushi at Funayama afterward. Through 7/24; noon-7, noon-6 Sun.; 43 Greenwich Ave. (6th & 7th Aves.).

This week, Clothingline has Tocca, Salt Works, Free People, and more. Through 7/13; 10-6 (10-7 Tues.); 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Score some Betsey Johnson for up to 80% off; dresses are a mere $60. 7/13-7/14; 10-8; 263 W. 38th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 3rd fl.

Select items are up to 50 percent at The Conran Shop. Through 7/23; 11-8 weekdays, 10-7 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 407 E. 59th St. (at 1st Ave.).

Dress like a hot Euro chick: Save up to 70% at Net-a-Porter's summer sale.

Recent Cheryl Shops website of the week La Garçonne is having a summer sale. I will resist the temptation to buy all the Daryl K stuff.
New: links!
Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I'm making up for it (sort of) with brand spanking new links. At the end of the right-hand sidebar, you'll find my favorite fashion news sources, blogs, and friends' blogs. If I forgot anyone, or if you want me to link to you, please e-mail me. In the meantime, I'll be back to the normal schedule next week. Enjoy!