Fall in the fashion world is a season of limitless opportunity: Designers unveil new lines or new collaborations; editors are abuzz as the pieces they were excited about on the runways in March are at long last on the racks of downtown boutiques. Any bad news is carried like a whisper through a bustling cocktail party — it’s as though you’re sitting on a plush divan, sipping champagne, feeling thrilled about the future, then turn your head to hear some piece of truly mind-reeling news.
And so it was with more of a whimper than a bang that Jane Mayle announced she had decided to close her Mayle line — making her November holiday/resort collection her last — and lock the doors at her charming Nolita boutique forever. Word circulated quickly among editors and friends, afternoon coffees were littered with silent stares, email correspondences were littered with question marks and ellipses. It may sound dramatic, but if you’re a fan of Mayle’s old-feminine-inspired pieces, you understand. The label has always been like a great indie band to which girls of a certain romantic-yet-sophisticated aesthetic flock. It’s the thinking woman’s brunch and party attire — her recent collections blended incredible prints with alluring cut-outs and button details. Most captivating of all, since opening in 1998, Mayle has never participated in runway shows, advertised, or been a public persona in any real way. She’s just good at what she does, and word of mouth has followed.
Thus, I suppose, it should come as no surprise that her reasons for ending her tenure are more emotional than fiscal. As she told WWD: “How I came to this business was all about dreaming and building a wardrobe you would be seduced by. That mystery and remoteness and insouciance have disappeared from fashion in order to accelerate the product. I feel I have just become another cog in that machinery.” And so fashion continues to transform itself into retail, leaving our favorites in its wake.
In less widely reported but nonetheless devastating news, Lisa Levine, a truly talented jewelry designer in Williamsburg, recently sent out an emotional email telling friends and fans she will be closing her doors in September. In fact, by the time you read this, her wonderfully delicate coin-and-chain necklaces and earrings will already be cleared out of her little shop, another victim of rising retail costs and belt-tightening across the city.
All of this should serve as a stirring reminder that the beloved shop on your corner may not survive the winter. Pay your respects now.