Like a chimera, like a dybbuk, like a spirit that slips into the house and switches your baby for a changeling, pop-up shops slithered into Manhattan a few weeks ago, infecting empty storefronts in Soho, the West Village, midtown, and the Bowery.
Target was responsible for four of these outposts, called “Bullseye Bodegas” and open for a mere four days. (Pop-up shops, by definition, pop up and then poop out very quickly.) This quartet of self-conscious hipness prided itself on goods with designer tie-ins, many of which will be available soon at your spectacularly unfabulous local suburban Target or on the Target website.
On opening day, I visit the Bullseye Bodega on the Bowery and, as usual, as I walk down the street, everything I see annoys me. The horrible green glass tower at Astor Place annoys me. The new Cooper Union building at East 7th Street, replacing a lovely old edifice, annoys me. The hideous cantilevered monstrosity going up across from the Voice annoys me. The Bowery Hotel with its spiffy, liveried doormen annoys me. The Rogan store in the former home of the Bouwerie Lane Theatre (long before that, it was the Bond Street Savings Bank—turns out 135 years ago, this was a trendy neighborhood) especially annoys me.
The Bullseye Bodega is located in the space that used to house Kelly & Ping and, coincidentally, long before that, was the home of my old friend, the club doorman/impresario Haoui Montaug, who, like so many other nutty young artists, passed away in the early ’90s. (How well I remember desperately trying to act cool in Haoui’s loft, only drawing the line when the gang climbed the exterior fire stairs to party on the roof, an escapade that had me, the world’s worst punk, cowering in fear.)
The Bullseye Bodega is decorated in red and yellow, and there are shelves of empty soup cans bearing the names of the designers who collaborated with Target—a deeply unsurprising Warhol reference that is nevertheless surprisingly attractive. The whole place is admittedly kind of cute, at least from the outside, making me think that I might actually want to buy something.
“Just four days. Come on in! We have everything you need,” reads a signboard outside the store. God knows I don’t need anything, but in I go anyway. Head and shoulders above a normal Target (which doesn’t take much—why are their advertisements so charming and their actual stores so grim?), the Bullseye Bodega has merchandise like peace-symbol cuff bracelets by Dean Harris—a discouraging $79.99—and a pair of pink Converse glitter ballet slippers for a happier $19.99. I think the patent handbags by Anya Hindmarch for $44.99 are big and ugly, but then I frequently find the Marc Jacobs patent bags at 20 times as much big and ugly, too. Likewise, to my mind, the Sigerson Morrison stilettos give off a faint aroma of Payless, but young women around me are squealing in ecstasy as they try them on, so what do I know? Even the Voice staffer who shot the photo on this page likes the place, mixing business with pleasure and buying a Jonathan Saunders sweater coat for $34.99. (Want to know how Saunders’s Target stuff compares to the clothes he put on New York runways a few weeks ago? Don’t ask me—he didn’t invite me to his show.) The only thing I really like is the orangey Bullseye Bodega shopping bag, and you only get that if you buy something.
When I’m done with the Bullseye Bodega, I stop in at John Derian’s strange shop, halfway between a general store and a cabinet of curiosities, which is right around the corner on 2nd Street. Derian, whom I’ve known for years, is in the house, lovingly arranging a pride of just-acquired vintage stuffed-toy Steiff lions in a showcase, and I proceed to put my foot in it once again: I’m bitching out the Bodega when Derian gently reminds me that he also collaborated with Target, and in fact had some of his trademark decoupage-inspired home accessories in the shop earlier that day. The only reason I didn’t see them, he says, was that they sold out instantly. Oops!
As it turns out, Target isn’t the only one popping up in Manhattan. Colette, the notoriously cutting-edge Parisian boutique on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré—which is filled at all hours with sullen, wealthy, black-clad nihilists and the giddy fashion girls who love them—has cut a deal with the Gap, of all places. And good news: You can still visit this pop-up, since it’s in business until October 5.
Colette X Gap, as it calls itself, is next to the Gap on Fifth Avenue and 54th Street and is relatively small—the real Colette has three stories—but it does have at least one thing in common with its pricy progenitor: There are no bargains here either. It seems that the minute the Colette imprimatur is slapped on, say, a denim jacket, the price soars. (OK, so it does sport a banner saying “Dreamer,” added by someone called Olympia Le-Tan, who, according to Colette, “reinterprets the indispensable jean jacket by embroidering felt letters on the back . . .” but $350?) Likewise, a trench coat with “O X” graffitied on the collar by a character named Andre—who may or may not be imaginary—is $400. A darling keychain dangling a miniature men’s felt suit—very Joseph Bouys—is $85, which is more than anyone wants to spend on a kitschy keychain. I stop by the store twice in one week, and both times, the staff apologizes for the relatively sparse stock and says more is on the way. And, in fact, a lot of other adorable items are in the little catalog distributed by the door, but, oh those French—the pamphlet features voluptuous descriptions of the merchandise in two languages, but neglects to include price tags.
Vaguely disappointed by these pop-ups, I pop into a store firmly rooted in the landscape, namely the Gap itself, which has been revived this season for what seems like the millionth time by designer Patrick Robinson. (One suspects that Robinson’s presence paved the way for the Gap Colette partnership in the first place, since the designer, who previously worked for Armani, Perry Ellis, and Paco Rabanne, before taking on this Herculean task, is a guy who knows his way around the Right Bank.)
So, I saunter into the Gap at 8th and Broadway, and here is what I find: the identical trench coat that’s at Collette X Gap—I swear, it’s the same one—minus the scrawled graffiti “O X” on the collar, for only $148. Anybody got a Magic Marker?