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Brand-new Elizabeth Street erotica shop Coco de Mer has a sign on its front door that reads "Keep calm, we are cumming soon." It's a parody of the British government's WWII-era "Keep calm and carry on" PSA, the one you can now find in design-lover's apartments across the city, and it's a perfect summing-up of Coco de Mer's spirit: British, cheeky, and just a tad dirtier than you'd expect.
Coco is the brainchild of Body Shop creator Dame Anita Roddick's daughters, Samantha and Justine, who took their mother's obsession with ethically-produced beauty products into even more intimate territory. They're particularly enamored of anything that appears prim from far away but turns out to be filthy up close, from the vintage china inscribed with phrases like "Bum fuck" to the pearl rings that double as handjob aids to the very wallpaper, which is a Victorian-esque damask print of a coy fox-woman surrounded by phallic-winged butterflies. This formula has served them well in stores in LA and London, and they think they'll be able to fill a niche for New Yorkers looking for something more user-friendly than Agent Provocateur but sexier than Babeland.
Coco de Mer is jokey about everything except its ethics, which it takes very seriously. Sex toys aren't regulated in this country—in some states they're not even legal—but Coco makes a point of carrying only phthalate-free vibrators. They source everything they can, down to nipple tassels, from Fair Trade producers, and they research their products thoroughly. ("We test-market everything," a staffer told us. "We get out friends to test things too.") The prices reflect this care and then some: Vibrators run from $55 to $13,000, with the ones on the high end somehow involving diamonds.
The lingerie collection, featuring labels like Stella McCartney and Lascivious, is similarly pricey. Even if you can't afford to buy anything, though, the internet-equipped camera screen in the dressing room will provide you with a lasting souvenir of your visit. Snap a photo to send to your lover (Coco seems to really like that word) or, if you're feeling brave, put your picture on the Coco de Mer website (NSFW, unsurprisingly, although it is surprising just how NSFW it gets.) You can also stash said lover in a tiny booth attached to the main fitting room equipped with a confessional-style screen. We're told the view has inspired marriage proposals.
· Storecasting: British Sex Shop Coco de Mer to Nolita [Racked]
· Coco de Mer [Official Site]