The Shop Tart has cool friends. One of her friends knows the brother of Aimee Cho, former fashion writer at Vogue and current designer of Gryphon. Somehow, this tentative connection resulted in the Shop Tart getting to visit Aimee at her showroom in New York last week to check out her spring line (which was totally a-ma-zing, but we’ll get to that). Perhaps you haven’t heard of Gryphon, because it isn’t available in Columbia. Yet. The Shop Tart dearly hopes one of her local favorites will write an order for spring*. Aimee’s collections have been consistently awesome from the beginning, when her vision began with a perfect trench coat and grew. Exiting the elevator, the Shop Tart saw the entrance to Gryphon, an homage to the original trench. (Yes, she did wonder if she had the panache to snag one on the way out, pretending it was her own, casually placed on antler hooks when she breezed into the room. No, she did not try it.)
The entrance hall opened into a high-ceilinged, sunlit showroom, lined on three walls with racks of clothing (SQUEEEEE!) and decorated on the others with inspiration.
Looking from corner to corner, the Shop Tart felt almost inspired enough to create her own line. Alas, she is not that brilliant, which is why she shops with relish and admires her favorite designers to no end. Gryphon is all about incorporating bits of shine into your every-day life. The Shop Tart wholeheartedly endorses this vision.
Greedily, she went through the racks, trying to contain her excitement for things she might not be able to have. There was a nautical knit top adorned with a long necklace of gold star-shaped sequins attached at the shoulders she wanted to wear right this second with leggings and later tucked in to wide-leg trousers. Speaking of, there was a beautiful pair of navy, wide-leg trousers that she is sure would become her go-to pants for years. She coveted a striped t with asymmetrical knots down the front made of the kind of knit that never pills, always looks crisp and remains soft after many wears. There were sequins at the neck of a print silk top that would be equally pretty with a cocktail skirt, jeans or the double breasted navy shorts in Gryphon’s spring collection. Or the metallic, waffle-weave linen shorts. She lusted after another silk top, also patterned, with a double row of square brushed brass studs traveling down the shoulders to the ends of the short sleeves. There was a cracked silver fabric motorcycle jacket and a cropped navy blazer with subtle gathers at the shoulders, just enough to keep it looking crisp and feminine without crossing the line to military. Mais oui, a perfect trench or three hung amidst the other glorious things. *sigh*
A navy-blue sequin blazer sent shivers down the Shop Tart’s back, right into her fingers as she grabbed it off the rack to try it. Again, she found her normally honest self wondering if she could somehow slip it into her bag without anyone noticing. Try to appreciate the beauty of the jacket in the photo below and ignore the Shop Tart’s outfit, which was hastily chosen in the dark so she wouldn’t wake her sleeping roommate for the week. Some outfits work, some don’t. What can she say? The eyelet peep-toe boots, incidentally, were a favorite for the week, as they are oddly comfortable for long walks. She wore them so much she had to take them to the cobbler when she got home to have the rubber tips on the heels replaced. True story.
Even the view from the showroom was lovely.
So were Aimee and her sales director Stephanie, both gracious enough to spend time chatting with the Shop Tart during what is likely one of their busiest weeks of the year. They had just showed at spring coterie. The Shop Tart hopes it was slightly less stressful than their last coterie experience, which Aimee wrote about on her blog. Judging from that story, she is well-liked by industry insiders. Not surprising. The Shop Tart enjoyed her visit, instantly relaxing in the serene atmosphere of the showroom after a rushed morning and harried cab ride. She will relax even more when she is sure she can find Gryphon in Columbia this spring. If not, she’ll be happy to travel to Hampden Clothing in Charleston, but she would love to have even more choices.
Speaking of choices, are you going to the reception tonight in honor of Jodi Arnold’s visit to Columbia? Jodi designs Mint and she’s bringing it to VanJean for a trunk show on Thursday. Tonight, she’ll show the line and talk about her design process at a cocktail party at VanJean owner Melissa Blanchard’s historical home on Saluda Avenue. Sounds fancy, right? Sounds exclusive. Lucky you…you’re invited. You must mind your manners and r.s.v.p. though. The Shop Tart will be there with bells on. Actually, that’s not quite true. No bells, just a Mint cocktail dress. The bells are figurative, silly. If you can’t make it tonight, call VanJean for an appointment to see the line in-store tomorrow. The Shop Tart got a preview and it was beyond lovely. Trunk shows anywhere are a great way to score pieces no one else in town will have. You have access to a lot more of a particular line than one boutique can order. Don’t forget to check the Shop Tart’s calendar for trunk shows around town. Mwah!
Happy Shopping and don’t forget to tell them you read it on the Shop Tart!
* Little birdies here and there have told her a couple of shops in town are considering Gryphon for spring and the Shop Tart is keeping her fingers crossed. Won’t you?