Neighborhood: NoLita
Type of Place: Women's Clothing

When I arrive at Prince Street's charming Bio boutique, I find that
owner An Vu has stepped out for a moment. But a dear friend of hers is
watching the store--her dog, Sparky, whose expression seems to say, "I
haven't figured out the unlocking-the-door thing yet, but when I do I will
totally let you in."

Soon Vu returns, and I am able to greet both her and Sparky
properly--and to look around the shop that Vu opened in April 2004, having left
her corporate career in pharmaceuticals the year before to do so. When
she was researching potential designers to include in her inventory, Vu
enjoyed learning about who each one was and what his or her career path
had been. This became her inspiration for the store's distinct theme:
Each garment comes with a "bio" tag about its designer, providing a
real-life who's-who behind the fashions.

Could this concept be more inviting? If it weren't late in the day (Vu
lets me stay a bit past closing time), I would linger for who knows how
long, reading about designers and admiring their creations. As things
are, I note a colorful spring sweater ($270) and a floral-graphic blouse
($200) by Intarsia; a festive red polka-dot camisole by Nu ($155), a
classic-with-a-twist tailored white oxford by Louis Verdad (on sale for
$157.50), and a fabulous cap-sleeved silk dress in plum, by 12th Street
by Cynthia Vincent, that will carry the fashionable forward through
spring, summer, and even some warm days next fall (on sale for $213.50).
Vincent, I learn from her "bio" tag, graduated from NYC's Parsons
School; won the 1988 Silver Thimble Award for swimwear; and worked in London
before settling in California and starting her own company. In 1998,
she won L.A.'s Rising Star Award. The tag quotes her as saying, "I want
my name to be associated with making women feel feminine and confident."
If the clothes themselves weren't such strong sale incentives, these
tags, which forge a connection between designer and shopper, certainly
would be.

And then there are...the shoes. Vu's sister, an orthopedic
surgeon-turned-shoe designer whose career choices inspired Vu's own, creates the
Taryn Rose shoe line, which Bio features. (This may sound like a wild
leap at first, but think about it: Who better to design wearable shoes
than a former orthopedic surgeon?) The shoes are that rare combination of
stylish, well-made, and truly foot-friendly. The Taryn Rose premium
line, handmade in Italy, starts at around $400; but now there's also a
secondary line, still made from quality Italian materials but starting at

Reluctantly, I take my leave of the shoes, the clothes, the shop, the
owner, and the dog. But I will be back--to try things on, read the tags,
pet Sparky, and enjoy the fact in this hectic city, some still do
understand the value of the personal touch.
  - Pamela Grossman; March 11, 2007

29 Prince St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 334-3006