Here's a Scottsdale paradox: Many of its most fashionable residents sport clothing purchased elsewhere — meaning New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Milan. Enter Barneys, the chic New York department store that landed here last month. The name alone is guaranteed to make the heart of any fashionista (or fashionister) beat faster, and shoe freaks may just keel over: 5,000 square feet are devoted to women's shoes. Plus, more than 100 designers, retailers, and artists turned store mannequins into works of art especially for the event, including students from New School for the Arts and Barneys' own Simon Doonan. Barneys isn't the only fashion-forward game in town, although it gets the prize for Most Welcome Addition. Along with the local boutiques that keep the fashion fires burning, Scottsdale hosted not one but two fashion weeks this fall (Phoenix's took place last month, at the Valley Ho; Scottsdale's is November 5 to 7 and features more than two dozen runway shows, scottsdalefashionweek.com). And last but not least, cheap/chic H&M has just opened a store at Fashion Square. So pull on those Prada pants — it's time to shop.
Scottsdale Fashion Square: 4500 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Barneys New York: 602-337-6000, barneys.com
H&M: 480-607-8374, HM.com
Q&A: Simon Doonan, creative director with Barneys New York
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Kayaking on the creek near the weekend beach house on Shelter Island [New York] that I share with my longtime significant other Jonathan Adler. Most people would be surprised at how crunchy and lesbian and outdoorsy we are, at least on weekends.
Who were your heroes and heroines when you were growing up?
I grew up in the '60s so it was all about music. I worshipped Dusty Springfield and the Stones. I was a die-hard mod.
Who are your favorite characters in history?
Who doesn't love Marie Antoinette and, before her, Louis the Sun King. Those French royals knew the importance of looking fierce and fabulous and showing off a little.
If they were alive today they would be competing on So You Think You Can Dance.
Who are your favorite heroes and heroines in real life today?
I admire people who do hands on charity stuff and alleviate suffering, like Tom from Tom's shoes, and my friend Lee Blake: she started a great charity called Keep A Child Alive, helping Africans gain access to HIV drugs.
Who is your favorite painter?
I am a bit of an old fart when it comes to art. The new trendy conceptual stuff does not turn me on. If I had billions of dollars I would buy a Braque and a Wilfredo Lam.
Who is your favorite musician?
I am not very high-brow. I love pop music — Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé . . . Bring it on! But the most talented dude on Earth is Stevie Wonder. I have loved him since he was Little Stevie Wonder singing, "Uptight . . . Everything is all right!"
What is the quality you most admire in a man?
A great sense of humor. A man can have a million character flaws but I can forgive them all if he is funny.
What is the quality you most admire in a woman?
Decisiveness and toughness. I like women who don't take any BS. Pussy Galore!!! Emma Peel! Anyone who rocks a jumpsuit.
How would you define "style"?
Great style needs to have a component of originality, something unexpected. Don't follow trends . . . Invent them!
Who would you have liked to be, other than yourself?
Sammy Davis Jr. He was so groovy and he had great style and he could sing and dance. And he was petite, just like me. I own one of his original evening shirts with a little ruffle and big stand-up collar. The Candy Man can . . . It's so true!
Why a Barneys in Scottsdale?
It is long overdue. This is a marriage which should have happened years ago.
Do you have any favorite Scottsdale spots?
I am just getting to know the scene. My pals Bill Dougherty and Beth McRae have promised to take me to the Tee Pee for a down home Mexican fiesta. I cannot wait.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am dying to meet Steve Nash. Yes, I am much sportier than you would think.
MY TOWN: Lisa Sette
Longtime Scottsdale gallerist Lisa Sette names Ella Fitzgerald and Maria Callas as people whose style she admires. "It was about what they accomplished," she says, "especially as they grew into their 40s and 50s — how beautiful they were when they were doing what they were known for doing."
Sette says her life and her work are intertwined; as a result, she spends a lot of time entertaining out-of-town artists. "One of the most exquisite places is Roka Akor," she says. "It's sort of this surprise, where the outside of the building is — well, generic is putting it kindly, and whoever designed the inside really got it. And for a gallery owner to say this about a place with no art on the wall." She also likes Grazie Pizzeria.
For movies, Sette frequents Camelview 5. "I would have to leave Arizona if that theater didn't exist," she says. "They show films with substance." And occasionally, she and Peter treat themselves to a spa day. "I like everything about any spa," she says, "but [the Princess] is extra nice. It smells good."
Roka Akor Sushi and Robatat Grill Restaurant
7299 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Grazie Pizzeria and Wine Bar
6952 E. Main St.
Harkins Camelview 5
7001 E. Highland Ave.
Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale
7575 E. Princess Dr.
The Valley Ho
The resurrection of the Valley Ho (and the adjacent Trader Vic's) did much to buoy the spirits of Scottsdale's stylish. Instead of getting bulldozed and paved over, in the ignominious Western tradition, this "ho" (the work of Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Edward Varney) got a 21st century makeover that translates 1956 Hollywood cool into 2009 Arizona hip, complete with clean lines and sleek furnishings that pay homage to the original. The airy, high-ceilinged lobby alone, with its cozy-cool fireplace set into a rock wall, will knock your socks off — and make you wish you'd worn slightly better shoes. It's not difficult to imagine the young Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, who held their 1957 wedding reception at the Valley Ho, sitting at the sweeping bar sipping cocktails. The spacious, well-appointed rooms are retro-cool and comfortable, with state-of-the-art updates such as flat-screen televisions, Bose Wave stereos, and Philippe Starck designed bathtubs. And if you really like it here, you can move in for good — to one of the condos in the seven-story Residential Tower, with a choice of two-story lofts, one- and two-bedroom condominiums and, of course, penthouses. (Extended rentals are also possible.) Twice a week, the hotel offers an architectural walking tour of the buildings and the grounds, led by experts from Scottsdale's Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours.
6850 E. Main Street, 480-248-2000, hotelvalleyho.com
"Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth"
Nominees for this year's Scottsdale Designer of the Year award had some pretty impressive judges, including Phoenix's own Denita Sewell and visiting artist Nick Cave (not that Nick Cave), whose mind-expanding "sound suits" are on view at SMoCA through November 29. No doubt the reason why there are so many "Please do not touch" signs in the gallery with the suits is because the first thing you want to do when you see them is put your hands all over them. It would be so much fun to pet the shaggy Play-doh-colored Yeti hair with which Cave has covered some of the costumes, or to run your hands over the multiple buttons and pieces of vintage trim that Cave uses for others. You can't touch, but you can watch: The adjacent gallery features videos of Cave wearing his creations, and you can watch the fur fly and hear the buttons clickety clack together as he twists and twirls.
For unique, stylish gifts, it's tough to top the shop at SMoCA. The unusual jewelry selection is fairly priced and runs the gamut from bright plastic rings to dramatic sculptural necklaces that wouldn't look out of place at one of the museum's opening nights. There's a wide range of coffee table books to choose from — photography, sculpture, painting, comics, and crafts — as well catalogs for the museum's exhibits for sale. (Alas, the Nick Cave catalog sold out early, but it's still available online). Children (and adults who have trouble finding gifts for children) will appreciate the fun-but-vaguely-educational selection geared toward the younger set, including cute little Japanese figurines and paper cups with different noses drawn on them — so kids can pick their noses. There's also a small but interesting sampling of CDs for sale, as well as a listening station, so you can vet them first.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art • 7374 E. 2nd St., 480-874-4666, smoca.org
Louise Nevelson's "Windows to the West"
Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture isn't the only first-class piece of public art in this part of town, although you'll have to look a little harder to find Scottsdale's very own Louise Nevelson, which is behind the Scottsdale Public Library. "Windows to the West" (officially titled Atmosphere and Environment XIII, but nobody calls it that) was dedicated in 1973. Commissioned by the Scottsdale Fine Arts Council, the piece was the world-renowned sculptor's first large-scale work in the Southwest. It had to be removed from its watery home in 2002 for restoration because of environmental damage, but it returned to Scottsdale in 2004, and today it looks pretty damn good for 36 and counting.
Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza
Stylish people have long been drawn to this part of the world (think of surrealist artist Max Ernst and company); one of the best known is Frank Lloyd Wright, whose Taliesin West offers a glimpse into the aesthetic that shaped the way architects think of situating buildings in a particular landscape. Various tours of Taliesin are available, all of them illuminating, and the two-hour desert walk tour is particularly instructive.
12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., 480-860-8810, franklloydwright.org.
When artist Nick Cave came to town to prepare for the exhibit of his work at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, SMoCA curators toured him around town. Cave's favorite spot, they report, was the part of south Scottsdale that houses The Antique Trove, where Cave and company happily combed the aisles for hours. If the idea of 130 dealers and 25,000 square feet of furniture, flatware, jewelry, books, tools, and toys sounds like it might not be enough stuff, then you might also want to check out the nearby Goodwill for more cheap chic. Farther north, in Old Town, local fashion legend/modeling agent Robert Black has opened his own vintage boutique, where he carries not only clothes but vintage and contemporary jewelry and handbags created from vintage fabric.
The Antique Trove
2020 N. Scottsdale Rd. 480-947-6074 antiquetrove.com
2115 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Fashion by Robert Black
7144 E. 1st Ave. 480-664-7770
7135 E. Camelback Rd. #150
7014 E. Camelback Rd. #2079
Saba's Western Wear
7254 Main St.
7135 E. Camelback Rd. #185
7144 E. Stetson Dr. # 220
4501 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Eco-Friendly Building Center
8100 E. Indian School Rd.
8230 E. Raintree Dr. #109
The Green Room (desert landscapes)
4026 N. Miller Rd, #100
The Mix Shops
7144 E. Stetson Drive
15210 N. Scottsdale Rd. #100
7051 E. 5th Ave., #A
8711 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd.
9000 E. Indian Bend Rd.
7014 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 2109
6107 N. Scottsdale Rd.
MY TOWN: Duc and Noelle Liao
Fashion photographer Duc Liao and his wife, model Noelle, chucked in their fast-lane Paris life for Scottsdale in 2004, and they say they don't ever regret it. "Another day in paradise," Duc says of life here. The couple have three young daughters (the newest of whom is named Phoenix) and they run the cafe Scratch Pastries, so they don't have much free time, but they like to walk through the gardens at the Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza and stop at the James Turrell skyspace Knight Rise, which Duc calls one of the most beautiful places in town. And they love restaurant AZ88 because it's a place with character. It's "not trying to pretend to be anything it's not." (Plus, Duc says, AZ88 is one of the few places in town where he can get his hamburger "rare medium.") In addition to running the tastiest pastry parlor in town, Duc recently launched an online fashion magazine called Canal Mag (www.canal-mag.com) with Lisa Macchiaroli, who works at Scratch. "With the magazine, we tried to produce some images that are more European, more New York," Duc says. He solicited advice from Randy Krebs, owner of the well-edited boutique Covet, whom he "always asks about clothes for the magazine," and he sings the praises of Joy Li, whose eponymous line he has featured in Canal Mag. "You should go see Joy Li," he urges. "She knows how to design clothes."
7620 E. Indian School Rd.
7353 Scottsdale Mall
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
7374 E. Second St.
4234 N. Craftsman Ct.
Studio Joy Li
7144 E. Stetson Dr.
In Phoenix, the stretch along the north side of Camelback just west of Central Avenue, which is anchored by the great local music store Stinkweeds, offers multiple delights, including sweet jewelry, hand-picked new and vintage clothing, and baby gear at Frances, and toys — plus art — for the hip kid in you at Red Hot Robot, a "toy gallery and cultureshop."
12 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
10 W. Camelback Rd.
Red Hot Robot
14 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Just a stone's throw east on Camelback is Red Modern Furniture, where you'll find vintage modern art, furniture, and accessories housed in a swank two-story concrete, glass-and-steel Haver building. Farther south on Central is Haus, which sells fabulous mostly modern home furnishings from a variety of names, including Jonathan Adler.
Red Modern Furniture
201 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
4700 N. Central Ave., Suite 102, Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix, just off Roosevelt Row, contains several gems, including Bunky Boutique, with its fresh, friendly collection of men's and women's clothing and accessories. And over on Grand Avenue is Devious Wigs & Things, which is like a visit to your grandmother's closet, if your grandmother used to be a drag queen in the East Village.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
812 N. 3rd St., #A, Phoenix
1229 Grand Ave.
Finally, for a little haute couture, head to Phoenix Art Museum to take in "Geoffrey Beene — Trapeze," a look at the pioneering designer's career, on view in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery from November 7 to March 7, 2010.
625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix