Nanette Lepore (left) and Darby Hills at the opening party

Kudos to Nanette Lepore. There was a lot of talk about which New York boutique would be the first to pierce Damen Avenue’s indie veil. It was supposed to be Marc by Marc Jacobs, but, Lord, they’re slow (they were supposed to open in August, then it was October, now who knows when?) Others are on the horizon, including BCBG.

But when it came down to getting the lease, stocking the store, and flinging open the doors, Lepore did it first. Her store, which opened over the weekend (1623 N. Damen), looks like the set of Legally Blonde: pink walls, white accents, perfectly girly dresses. I half expected Elle Woods to come trotting out of the dressing room at the opening party, balancing a glass of champagne in one hand, and her little mutt—was it Bruiser?—in the other.

A chandelier from the store, framed in Lepore’s signature pink

Elle wasn’t there, but Lepore came in from New York for the opening. She’s a Midwestern girl (Ohio raised) and seemed genuinely excited about bringing her boutique here. I do wonder what effect her shop will have on the stalwarts (p.45, Tangerine) that made Damen Avenue a top retail destination. Judging from the cars circling Lepore’s shop on opening night, it will be good thing for all the retailers, as an increase in foot traffic always is. But I know it’s really annoying for the people who moved into the ‘hood when there was Filter (instead of a bank) and shops for Liz Phair-types (instead of Elle Woods).


Photography: Cassie Walker