The long and winding Bleecker Street boasts everything from music and comedy to fashion and food that caters to all tastes if not all bank accounts, but the one stop all tourists should make, besides Magnolia Bakery, is 394 Bleecker, under the canopy of black and white stripes and the Lulu Guinness banner. The UK designer’s single U.S. shop, situated between several Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren stores, consists of girly, antique-inspired hand bags, jewelry, and accessories featuring lip sticks, lips, other cosmetic icons, shells, and fish. (The shopkeeper told me Lulu’s current fancy is the sea.)
The walls within Lulu Guinness are black and white, but the bags themselves take on bright pinks, reds, oranges, and purples. Some bags are conventional in appearance while others are truly one-of-a-kind as far as style goes, like the “Poodle Parlor” makeup bag. Everything falls under one theme or another. For example, the current bed linen collection of Lulu Guinness, that comprises crisp white luxurious sheets with rose-petal-strewn pillows, is part of a “Life is a Bed of Roses” theme, unrelated to either cosmetics or the sea, but girly and antique-inspired nonetheless. Charming.
So charming that a girl cannot help but falling in love with at least one original piece in the shop. For me it was the oversized pearl cocktail ring of the “Put of Your Pearls Girls” collection, although I am also partial to the bright orange snakeskin “lips” clutch that would be way too much fun to pull out every time I need my handy-dandy NYU ID card or a piece of gum. Two “collectible” bags also caught my eye when I was in the boutique. One was a pearl-splattered seashell-shaped bag and another was a clutch in the shape of a wedding gown, with “Lulu Caught You!” embroidered under the top skirt. As I was examining these, the shopkeeper approached me and pointed to another whimsical bag on display in the case. She told me Oprah had worn the bag once and I could see why. The style of Lulu Guinness is at once classic and quirky, trendy and timeless like Oprah herself. I bet Oprah felt like she were in London when she draped that Lulu bag on her arm. I bet anyone who stops by the cozy, black-and-white boutique on Bleecker feels the same.