What drunken reverie, what fevered imagination, gave rise to the That Girl T-shirt with the logo of Marlo Thomas sporting Pride-striped hair in the window of Christopher Clothing on the corner of Christopher Street and Greenwich Avenue? Whatever nut thought this up, it’s a total success—the kind of ridiculous item that makes dressing up for Pride so much fun. Even the clerk behind the counter at the Oscar Wilde Bookshop (15 Christopher) agrees when we stop by to see what fashion items this historic shop might have sequestered between the volumes of A Boy’s Own Story and Tipping the Velvet. Though the Oscar Wilde sells its own tees—we especially like a $20 tie-dyed number that could be a survivor from the original Stonewall rebellion, which took place up the block 34 years ago this weekend—the clerk agrees that the Marlo shirt is quite something. Plus it also goes well with Oscar’s baseball cap, a khaki and olive chapeau pronouncing the Oscar Wilde the town’s oldest gay and lesbian bookshop. (It almost wasn’t here this year—slated to close, the place was snatched from the jaws of death when a new owner came to the rescue at the last minute.)
Just across the street, MAC—cosmetics, not computers—has a surfeit of sparkle to get you in a party mood. Gold metallic false lashes—”they’re way funky theatrical lashes,” according to a resident makeup artist, are $8.50; copper glitter eyeliner that would likewise crank up the celebratory quotient is $16. Before we leave, the clerk recommends the shop across the way, a place called Albertine that has been open only a week. “It’s funky! It’s bringing the East Village over here!”
And indeed, Albertine (13 Christopher) has lots of hand-made one-of-a-kind fashions by young designers. “I like things that are a little bit quirky; I like to mix,” says Albertine’s owner, who plans to introduce fresh stock every few weeks. The day we visit, the merchandise includes a dress that does double duty as a top by employing those drawstring ribbons seen everywhere this season, from the $10 stores on Broadway to the runways of Junya Watanabe. A white mini with black ribbons doubles as a tube top; an all-black version is either a baby-doll dress or a long skirt. ($168, but it is two for the price of one.)
If Albertine is only a week old, the Loft (89 Christopher) has been around longer than most any business on the block. (Most, but not all: The Northern Dispensary has been on Christopher since 1825; Edgar Allan Poe had an earache treated here.) Anyway, the Loft hails from the mid ’70s and features sexy sportswear like a tattoo-printed net sleeveless tee ($50) that was surely inspired by the work of that out-and-proud designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Matching bottoms, which are either swimsuits or the world’s smallest short shorts—”Go-go boys love them!” the clerk tells us—are $42.
“We’re big in the leather fetish crowd,” says the sunny fellow behind the counter at London Fetish (84 Christopher), where there is something even skimpier than those faux-Gaultier shorts: an adjustable leather jockstrap with the police or fire department logo strategically placed front and center. But then again, there are lots of people for whom a leather cop jock will never strike the right note. For these revelers, we suggest a trip to Second Gift (74 Christopher), where there is an abundance of merchandise in those same rainbow hues that did so much for Marlo’s hair. Not only do we see a jaunty sun visor with a row of multi-colored lights that really twinkle ($7, battery included), but there is also a multi-colored feather fan ($15), a feather mask ($12), and even a full fluttery wing-spread ($75) to make you look like the seraph who crashed through the ceiling in Angels in America.
So you’re all set. You’re wearing the baby-doll skirt-dress and the light-up visor, but how will you find your significant other in the crowd? At Detective Store International (173 Christopher), a block from the river, there is, along with the bug detectors, telephone scramblers, metal detectors, audio jammers, and cameras disguised as teddy bears, a two-way wristwatch communicator ($90 each, and you know you need two) with a range of a mile and a half, so you can tell your partner, “I’m at the pier!” while he or she is still dancing down Fifth.