Most drag-fabulous designs
Like a stylist to the stars, Mark Mitchell (itsmarkmitchell.com) shines as a designer to burlesque beauties, his wildly intricate, comical gowns sported onstage by local dancer The Swedish Housewife and boylesque star Waxie Moon. The Capitol Hill–based costumer (who also designs men’s shirts) made a splash at this year’s Thaw fashion show in lighthearted sets modeled by the Housewife, patriotic in a glimmering blue cape and what Mitchell calls the quintessential Mitchell garment, “an over-the-top gown with bolts of tulle ruffles and an unforgiving waist.” Piling on the drama, Mitchell’s creative wear will appear onstage in the coming months, donned by local band The Ononos and featuring a mix of stage wear and high fashion that Mitchell describes as “fabulous and totally nuts.”
Best new high-end vintage shop with a conscience
Karen Mayers Gamoran's chic jewel box of a boutique, which opened last December, is the antithesis of the mothball-ridden vintage shop, the clean white space accented by gently used designer garments from Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana or Oscar de la Renta. But hidden beneath the gloss of Karen’s Vintage Couture (Pioneer Square, 623 Western Ave.; 206.682.2769; karensvintagecouture.com) is a down-to-earth purpose: A large portion of proceeds is given to local charities, including Eastside Domestic Violence Program, the Seattle chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and University of Washington research on breast cancer. So you can feel OK about that Stella McCartney splurge.
Best shops for multitaskers
Turns out having a bit of ADHD makes for great shopping: Blurring the lines between traditional shop, craft-supply store and art gallery, new multipurpose faves Assemble, Pun(c)-tuation and Coming Soon have ingeniously given Seattleites a reason to keep popping into their shops as they continually evolve, one day offering how-to classes on felting and knitting, the next dotting the walls with pieces from a new artist in residence. These little shops have also crafted some of the best local finds of the year, such as Coming Soon owner Jessica Park’s coveted Ampersand as Apostrophe purse, made from a vintage leather mailbag. (Assemble: Phinney Ridge, 7406 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.913.2470; assembleshop.com. Pun(c)tuation: Capitol Hill, 705A E Pike St.; 206.588.8707; punctuatedlife.com. Coming Soon: Fremont, 3623 Fremont Ave. N; 206.940.4193; comingsoonconcept.com)
Best jewelry designer
Though she's been in Seattle for nearly a decade, this was jewelry designer Regina Chang’s year, with her stunning lasso necklaces ($220–$260), agate bracelets (around $130) and hammered-metal earrings ($30–$100) exuding Seattle sensibility. Columbia City–based Chang (reginachang.com) approaches her jewelry as couture. Pieces from her seasonal collections are one of a kind and walk the line between luxe femininity and power. Eschewing the dainty and girly, Chang incorporates Northwest elements such as driftwood from Camano Island beaches, vintage metals and rough-cut stones into chunky, bold pieces that are as distinctive as her nature-loving, laid-back Northwest clients.
Best survival techniques in a tough economy
It’s still tough out there, so we admire retailers who have created shopping hype (and sales) out of the proverbial dry wallet. Top scores in creativity go to pop-up shops dotting the downtown cityscape; to the collaboration between West Seattle shoe stop Clementine and online boutique La Rousse (shoplarousse.com) for their head-to-shoe outfit pairings for multiple budgets ($100–$400), and to our favorite comeback of the year, Julie Wray’s chic online shop Olivine (shopolivine.com), which offers a lifetime discount on Prairie Underground items (sign us up, please!) and free same-day delivery for Seattleites on purchases of more than $200.
Best new flower shop
Our little local-loving hearts go pitter-patter at Marigold & Mint (Capitol Hill, 1531 Melrose Ave.; 206.682.3111; marigoldandmint.com) in Melrose Market, where owner Katherine Anderson stocks her quaint space with seasonal organic flowers (and sometimes produce!) from her Snoqualmie-based Oxbow Farm as well as the Skagit Valley farm Floret. Inhale a big whiff of Northwest flora while indulging in another locavore fantasy: shopping the letterpress goods selection from hometown fave Ilee Paper Goods.
Best urban cyclist hangout
There’s the Lance Armstrong racer type’s bicycle shop, and then there’s Dutch Bike Co. (Ballard, 4741 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.789.1678; dutchbikeseattle.com), a sleek haven for those who would rather cruise the streets than be noticed for those teeny spandex outfits. David Schmidt and Stephan Schier’s burgeoning 3-year-old biz got a major facelift last summer when it moved into the historic Kolstrand Building next to Staple & Fancy Mercantile. Flush with casual, urban-friendly WorkCycles, with backseats for kid cling-ons, and Civia bikes, with front-end boxes for groceries, the airy brick-and-vintage-wood space also sports a café and an espresso stand, so bike enthusiasts can cradle a cup while shopping or waiting for service.
Images by Hayley Young
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