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Multi-hyphenate status is the lifestyle du jour, but Alix Brown is an original juggler of glamorous pursuits. A downtowner by way of the South who's spent her life touring in bands and working in vintage and record stores, she's got that perfect rock-and-roll goddess look straight from the '70s that is right at home on today's Soho streets.
Brown now applies her expertise to gigs like merchandising What Goes Around Comes Around, playing muse to both established and on-the-rise designers, gracing the pages of Nylon and Harper's Bazaar, DJing weekly parties at the Soho Grand, and creating fashion event playlists for the likes of Pamela Love and Helmut Lang.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, seeking out cool spots to while away a weekend comes second nature to her. We wandered the streets of downtown New York with Alix looking for our new permanent fixtures.
SMILE TO GO: 22 HOWARD STREET
We've got a lot of shopping to do, so Alix suggests we start the day with a meal that feels as decadent as brunch, but that we can eat on the run. We're especially excited about this prospect when we realize she's taking us to Smile to Go, a spot that stands out in a neighborhood of chic spots for being so, well....chic.
Its intrinsic trendiness is effortless, but the main attraction is obviously the easy-to-grab dishes — even the indulgent pastries feel like a healthier version of themselves, thanks to simple-yet-elevated ingredients. "[Smile to Go] is right next to my apartment," Alix says, making us seriously jealous. "The people that work [here] are really sweet, and they have the best coffee and cookies."
To prep for our day, we order some of that delicious coffee and delectable house-made granola with berries and steel-cut oatmeal with coconut milk and currants. Then it's cookie and pastry time: Olive oil cake, an orange cinnamon bun, a peanut butter and jelly cookie, and a cookie with chocolate, cherries, and almonds.
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND: 351 WEST BROADWAY
For our first shopping stop, our guide has an expert vantage point. "I used to work for WGACA doing their buying, merchandising, and window displays. It's a beautiful store with an amazing archive in the basement."
Therein lies the reason why What Goes Around Comes Around is one of the most name-checked favorites in both the fashion and entertainment industries. There's something for both the It Girl and the fashion fan on a (relative) budget here, which can only be chalked up to the buyers' magical powers for tracking down both rare luxury designer pieces and perfectly worn-in concert tees.
We pine for the insane Chanel bag collection and stunning Hermès jewelry before diving into the more accessible denim selection with the coolest fits and washes from Levi's, no matter your style or size. There's no excuse for walking out the door without the pair of 501's you've been searching for.
CLIC: 255 CENTRE STREET
Alix then leads the way to a place to make your apartment — scratch that, your entire life — so much prettier. Clic is a gallery with an eye for fresh talent that displays work from exciting photographers. You can buy their prints, as well as a selection of home goods, furniture, jewelry, accessories, and books. Basically, it's easy to lose hours here picturing how a printed pillow or throw might look on your couch or flipping through a stunning fashion book.
"[They also have a shop in East Hampton and Saint Barth," Alix points out, inspiring some wanderlust. "[I] love the giant Maripol blown-up polaroids they have hanging on the walls." Another bonus about Clic is its wide range of price points, meaning you can end your intriguing browse with an indulgence as extravagant as a print you now can't imagine your wall without or as innocent as a straw hat for coming beach weekends.
RITUAL VINTAGE: 377 BROOME STREET
One vintage stop for someone like Alix Brown wouldn't be enough. Wanting to see more of her shopping talents, she takes our tour over to Ritual Vintage. She describes it as "affordable vintage in the neighborhood with something from every era...The owner, Stacy, has great taste and an amazing curated collection. If you're looking for a piece you will never see anywhere else, go here."
These aren't pieces you just happen upon in your typical vintage store. We can't think of a style personality that wouldn't fall in love with something here. Like to dress sharp and mod? How about a geometric-print dress from Yves Saint Laurent circa the 1980s? Love ladylike glamour? Try a lush velvet slip dress from the ‘20s. Artsy with a goth twist? You can have your pick from the array of LBDs with striking details. Casual to formal, wallet-friendly to splurge, Ritual is the place to find That Perfect Something while still not feeling overwhelmed by choice.
CAFÉ GITANE: 242 MOTT STREET
A delicious meal that comes with a side of people-watching is our next stop. Café Gitane is a beautiful restaurant full of beautiful people serving beautiful food, but even though it's decidedly rich in cool factor, the vibe is welcoming and chill for a lazy afternoon meal. Its side street location makes it feel like a little European respite in this busy neighborhood, and the food is just as transporting.
"[They serve] delicious French-Moroccan food," Alix says. "I love the olives with oranges and the couscous." In other words, there's more to the menu here than the insanely Instagrammed avocado toast (although, that is irresistibly delicious). We add to Alix's addictive olives order a heart-of-palm salad with avocado, oranges, chili flakes and chicken, and spicy organic meatballs with boiled egg and cucumber yogurt.
LITTLE CUPCAKE BAKESHOP: 30 PRINCE STREET
Nolita's Little Cupcake Bakeshop happens to be on our way, and we figure a little dessert never hurt anyone. "You can watch them make the cupcakes," Alix says. "And I'm not a gluten-free kind of person, but their gluten-free rice pudding is amazing."
We step inside the bustling oasis of sweets to catch the cupcake-making in action and try our guide's recommendation, which is, in fact, a dream. The team at this instant-classic New York spot gets inventive with flavors without sacrificing sustainable production and locally sourced ingredients — the proof is in the pudding, both rice and banana. We also treat ourselves to blue velvet and German chocolate cupcakes, and make a note to return for the pistachio icebox cake.
THE SOHO GRAND: 310 WEST BROADWAY
With both stomachs and shopping bags filled, Alix knows just the place to end the day on a relaxing yet decidedly cool note, thanks to her residency at The Soho Grand. "I make the playlists for Grandlife Hotels, so I spend most of my days here listening to music and my nights DJing," she says. "The lounge has a great, chill vibe and is lovely to have a nice meal or drinks with friends."
The hotel's lounge is indeed one of the prettiest, most effortlessly elegant spots to sip a cocktail in New York, and its regulars provide that certain downtown buzz. We recline in the salon like movie stars on holiday and check out the Grand Bar & Lounge for its stylish setting and sophisticated scene — the perfect close to a weekend.