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The Ten Best Pop-Up Shops of 2011

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With only a few days left in the year, it's time to look back on 2011 with the annual (five years running!) Racked Recap. This week, we'll be reliving our biggest and brightest (and saddest and darkest) moments, from the best collabs to the biggest retail conquistadors. Up next: 2011's Ten Best Pop-Up Shops.


Marina the Tweeting Doll greets customers on Fashion's Night Out

There was a time not so long ago when pop-up shops were a recession-era novelty, but now they feel like a staple of city retail. This year's crop included some big, fancy, pull-out-all-the-stops showcases, including temporary stores from H&M, ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, and Tommy Hilfiger.

10. Missoni x Target
Did you try to shop the Missoni for Target store in Bryant Park back in September? If so, you probably came away with one of two impressions. If you made it in on Fashion's Night Out—or if you managed to hit the press preview—your primary memory is probably one of total howling chaos, with people grabbing striped goodies like the world was ending while a giant (and terrifying) doll Tweeted updates overhead. If you didn't make it in, on the other hand, your memory probably consists entirely of waiting in a giant line. Either way, at least it was hard to forget.

9. Prep World
Back in May, Tommy Hilfiger installed an entire beach house on Little West 12th Street in the Meatpacking District. The preppy merchandise was cute, but the doghouse for the Hilfiger's pup Morgan may have been the best part.

8. Joe Fresh
Before opening a permanent space in the Flatiron District, this northern import popped up on Madison Avenue, causing serious drama among New York's normally unflappable Canadian ex-pats. Some were delighted to be able to shop cheap clothes from their native land; some were less than thrilled to see the local equivalent of Forever 21 follow them south. Regardless, the orange-accented store seemed to be a big hit with locals.

7. H&M's Dragon Tattoo Collection
We still think it's weird that a movie about sexual violence in Sweden inspired a clothing line, let alone a Meatpacking pop-up shop where you could browse next to a chained-up female mannequin. But the collection did garner raves for its Balmain-on-a-budget aesthetic.

6. Barracks
Greg Lauren's military-inspired Soho installation looked nothing like his uncle Ralph's crisp country luxe. Some of the dark, dramatic looks were prohibitively expensive, but Lauren put the money to work, donating proceeds to Operation Mend, which helps wounded soldiers.

5. Aether
Practical outerwear brands like REI, EMS, and Patagonia have been showing up all over New York lately, but LA-based Aether stood out from the crowd by making their NYC appearance in high style. The brand parked a beautifully refurbished Airstream trailer in an empty lot in Nolita, making us wish for the first time ever than our apartment had wheels.

4. MAC
Back in January of '11, MAC introduced its new Soho location with a Wonder Woman pop-up. Not only was the collection adorbs, but it matched the red-painted storefront perfectly.

3. Warby Parker
Everyone's favorite one-for-one eyewear company brought their affordable, charitable line of sunglasses and prescription frames to Soho for Christmas. Crowds appreciated the chance to try on the glasses in person, and it didn't hurt that Warby's friendly staffers were working the scene handing out holiday cheer in the form of free candy.

2. Wieden + Kennedy
The advertising agency launched an enormous pop-up market in West Soho one weekend in June, bringing together big hipster brands like Steven Alan with some of the city's best up-and-coming labels. Of course, as many pointed out in the comments, major W+K client Nike was nowhere to be found.

1. Nichola Formichetti
The seven-foot-tall cotton panda. The disco ball decor. The presence of Zombie Boy, facial tattoos and all. There were so many reasons to love the mind-bending Fashion Week pop-up from Lady Gaga's stylist that we can't possibly list them all. BOFFO nearly went broke trying to pay for it, but the pop-up was unquestionably a creative success.

· All Racked 2011 Recaps [Racked NY]