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Hang Out with Julie Haus at her New Soho Store

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The first Julie Haus retail outpost on Broome and Mercer is like an high-low boutique, art gallery and custom shop all rolled into one. Designers/owners/spousal team Julie Haus and renaissance-husband Jason Alkire are also on hand every day of the week, so it wouldn't be unusual to wind up having Julie herself spend an hour styling you in the original Julie Haus line and the diffusion J/J by Julie Haus collection.

The designing husband-wife team have collaborated on a mix of ornate vintage wood pieces contrasted by minimalist black and white surfaces as the backdrops for the clothes, contemporary art pieces (including Jason's own) and older décor finds.

The fall/winter Julie Haus signature line is inspired by the London production War Horse (with the massive equine puppets) and features lush pieces like a sexy deep v-cut, high-hemline black lace dress for $395, a cashmere-wool grey belted coat with exposed snaps and coyote collar for $815, and a strapless draped chiffon, rough-edged cocktail frock for $630. An edgy-meets-cute cropped rabbit sleeve jacket will set you back $1050.

Unique to the retail outpost are one-of-a-kind and made-to-order gems like a rose rabbit pouch (matching the jacket) with a long chain metal strap ($425) and a supple baby croc belt for $290. (Let's just keep these a secret from PETA.) The designer will also be introducing bags for the holiday season.

For those with wide eyes but not as deep pockets, the J/J by Julie Haus diffusion line is just what the doctor ordered. The line features the same attention to detail and structure, but at a lower price point. We found the outerwear to be the smartest investment. Highlights include the versatile black wool Draven trench with multiple clasps and leather loops at $275 (it's already a big seller), a plush camel wool cashmere coat with exposed zipper for $390, and basic trenches with a twist for $205.

Also on the J/J shelves: Sleek silk mesh tanks for $135, black tucked-shoulder and sleeveless dresses for $175, washed silk baby doll dresses for $265, leggings with mesh design for $95 (machine washable), and versatile bamboo jersey tunic turtlenecks for $88. It's also worthwhile to note that J/J by Julie Haus keeps sustainability in mind. The diffusion line features leftover materials, like soft leather and premium fabrics, from the original line—yet another way to rationalize your shopping expenditures.

The standalone shop also lets Julie Haus collaborate with a rotating roster of indie designers (and friends) each season, resulting in pieces like Christine Ettelson's braided necklaces and Gigi Burris' hats. There are also vintage sunglasses (Burberry, Prada, Roberto Cavalli) complete with the matching cases priced between $149 and $225. The art work will be changed out each season and Julie promises some creative décor themes for the upcoming holidays.

The outpost gives Julie and Jason direct access to their customers (hence the impromptu personal styling sessions), so the boutique is also an opportunity for the designers to experiment with one-off items. This personalized customer service also pays off for shoppers who desire a bit of customization for their purchases. Case in point: As long as the materials are on hand, Julie is more than happy to switch exposed zippers or make an item out of a different fabric. She can also create custom bridesmaid dresses based on existing designs.

Julie recounts the story of a shopper who needed a mandated neutral-toned bridesmaid dress for a day wedding in November (tall order there, Bridezilla). "So I find myself going all over the store trying to put a skirt with something and basically, it came down to we can either [go with separates] or make you something from fabrics that we have," the designer tells us. "I could feel her frustration going around looking because she's looking for something so specific..specific at a price point also. She doesn't want to spend $1000 on a dress she's going to wear to an event one time." A designer and shopkeeper who understands us: Can't argue with that.
· Julie Haus [Official Site]

Prada - Soho

575 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 212-334-8888 Visit Website