Taking the Fifth

Theme Stores Eat Manhattan

Prada (724 Fifth Avenue): If Prada didn't want to be compared to the Disney store, why did it open a swanky four-level shop diagonally across the street from the WB store? The pale pistachio interior teems with stroller-pushing mommies and sweatshirted tourists, a far cry from the sullen sub-debs who populate Prada advertisements and runways. Maybe it doesn't have video screens, but otherwise this place bears the hallmark of a theme store: fairly undistinguished merchandise—keychains, slippers, and basic nylon bags—is redeemed by its association with greatness, which at Prada is symbolized by a little metal triangle. In the last several years, the company has expanded to include sporty clothing, and this season, having eschewed sweatpants, it is offering puffy skipants for men, made of Teflon-coated nylon, for $420. In place of Eeyore's face or cola logos, the word Prada is embossed on multifarious snaps, zipper pulls, and the red leather binding that decorates the posh wearers' ankle.

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