Fashion’s Night Out SF Link Love: Where to Party Tonight

Fashion’s having a party tonight—and everyone’s invited. The annual international event has arrived once again, with retailers around the globe hosting complimentary special events, extended shopping hours, cocktail soirees, and more—all in anticipation of the official kickoff to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Here’s a down-and-dirty round-up of Fashion’s Night Out local event listings for anyone looking for a late night of shopping, people-watching and party-hopping in the Bay Area.

SF Pop Sugar

SF Gate

SF Union Square

Neiman Marcus

Macy’s

Saks Fifth Avenue

Santana Row

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New Bay Area Swimsuit Lines Make a Splash

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle July 24, 2011

Saga Swimwear's bright Boston one-piece ($155) makes for a stark contrast in design. Photo by Haggai Cohen Milo

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

In San Francisco, beach attire usually calls for wetsuits, not swimsuits. Women are more likely to build a scarf collection than a bikini wardrobe.

That’s just fine with Michelle Byrnes, designer and founder of Saga Swimwear, and Lynn Werner, CEO and founder of Lynnina, two Bay Area entrepreneurs who recently launched their own swimwear lines with the jet-setting urbanite in mind.

For 29-year-old Byrnes, a San Francisco City College fashion design graduate, running her boutique brand of sexy one- and two-piece suits out of her Noe Valley home was a no-brainer.

Byrnes, who was born in Hawaii but grew up in the Mission District, has had a longtime obsession with swimsuits. Limited to finding swimwear only in the summertime in a smattering of boutiques and department stores, Byrnes wanted to provide “city girls” with a local outlet to find modern, well-made swimsuits year round.

Nearly as passionate about collecting shoes and coats, Byrnes finally decided to plunge into swimsuits in 2008 when she partnered up with former roommate Alex McCauley, 25, to launch Saga because of their shared fascination with swimwear and the playful connotations bathing suits brought to mind.

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Hayes Valley shops keep charm amid rapid growth

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle July 10, 2011

Illustration courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

With the burst of activity happening in Hayes Valley lately, it’s hard to believe this bustling San Francisco neighborhood has nary a Starbucks in sight. From the groundbreaking of the $50 million SF Jazz Center and the opening of high-end spin-offs to several existing boutiques, to the new restaurant flurry and more to come, one might expect to find shoppers – Venti Mocha Frappuccinos in hand – walking their well-groomed labradoodles.

But ask anyone who knows this charmingly compact, decidedly big-chain-averse neighborhood and they’ll assure you that although the Valley is growing rapidly, its personality is definitively intact.
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Melissa and Catie Grimm grow boutique from the ground up

In addition to running Carrots in San Francisco, sisters Melissa (left) and Catie Grimm write the blog Carrot Talk, where they mix their passions for fashion and food. Photography by Russell Yip / The Chronicle

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

One look at the Grimm sisters’ blog Carrot Talk, and it’s obvious that their love of food and fashion go hand in hand.

As scions of the Central Valley Grimmway baby carrots empire and co-owners of Jackson Square’s aptly named Carrots boutique, Melissa and Catie Grimm pepper posts about their latest designer discoveries with ebullient food musings – from restaurant raves to gourmet recipes they’ve tried at home.

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Best of Date Night: Nojo and Chambers Eat + Drink

Outside Nojo ("farm" in Japanese) on Franklin and Hayes streets in San Francisco. All photos by Edric Itchon.

Friday was date night and I headed out with my husband Edric to hit up Nojo, a Japanese-izakaya-inspired restaurant in Hayes Valley that’s been getting glowing reviews. Luckily all the hype was spot on, and we enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had in SF in a while. While this isn’t a food blog, I felt compelled to post photos of chef Greg Dunmore’s sleek and contemporary yet cozy joint that does Japanese pub food—and just about everything else—right. From the juicy grilled chicken skewers and farm-to-table pickled veggies, to the cooks sporting cheeky “Support Your Local Nojo” statement tees in the open kitchen, Nojo is definitely a place I’d come back again and again. For more details, check out Michael Bauer’s review from the Chronicle here.

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Where to Shop Now: Sui Generis Womenswear Boutique in the Castro

As seen in this weekend’s San Francisco Chronicle: (Check out the newly expanded glossy version in print every Sunday!)

The men behind the Sui Generis stores, Gabriel Yanez (left) and Miguel Lopez, built a clientele in Guadalajara, Mexico, but yearned to make a splash in San Francisco's fashion scene. Photography by Russell Yip / The Chronicle

It may not seem the most obvious choice to open a high-end womenswear boutique smack dab in the heart of the Castro, but for Miguel Lopez and Gabriel Yanez, going against the grain has always made perfect sense.

Never mind that the ailing economy has shuttered doors of retailers throughout the country. Since their move to the Bay Area in 2000 from Guadalajara, Mexico – where they produced their own men’s and women’s clothing lines, owned two ready-to-wear boutiques and dressed a small cadre of Mexican celebrities – this enterprising couple have had an eye on making their mark on the San Francisco fashion scene.

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French Designer Shourouk Takes Statement Jewelry to Another Level

Last night I had a really fun chat with French accessory designer Shourouk Rhaiem, who’s in town to fete the launch of her spring/summer 2011 collection tonight.

The event is happening at La Boutique, one of my truly favorite SF-meets-Europe boutiques, where owner Carole Harari has transformed the shop to look like a little piece of Rhaiem’s atelier in the chic Marais district of Paris.

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Fashion Outtakes from the Ellie Goulding SF Show

It’s always a fun challenge interviewing people about fashion who aren’t in the business of fashion. They tend to give you unexpected answers and a fresh take on how “non-industry” people think about (or don’t think about) trends and putting together their own special look. Somehow the interviews tend to be a little more raw and a little less predictable.

British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding was no exception. Sipping on a cup of tea when I arrived at her W Hotel suite, she seemed exhausted from touring, but  still managed to rally on the last night of her tour, give me some thoughtful  answers to my battery of style questions for the Chronicle, and later perform an electric set.

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Swimsuit Season Has Arrived. Masala Bhangra … anyone?

It’s swimsuit season. I know this, even though it’s still erratically cold and rainy in SF, because every fashion and beauty email list I’m subscribed to reminds me on a daily basis that I need to shop for/fit into/agonize over my next swimwear purchase.

Courtesy of Roxy.com

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The Chronicle’s New Style Section, Plus What’s Hot in Hayes Valley

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Style section is re-launching this spring with a new look as it merges with its shinier cousin SFIS, the pullout style monthly the Chronicle has published in limited circulation. The marriage will hopefully result in a better, glossier weekly that will have a more design-y feel, added  color, and high-profile features on fashion, people, parties, and design.

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