Neighborhood: SoHo
Type of Place: Women's Clothing Shoes

Some very brave and very wonderful friends of mine were in an art exhibit recently (, which brought me to SoHo on a sunny Saturday. I hadn't looked around the area for a while and was afraid that it had turned into a desert of designer-chain shops, with an occasional gallery once in a while. But no—if you're willing to look closely, there is still uniqueness and spirit to be found on SoHo streets (along with, of course, the graceful architecture and cobblestones).

I liked Callalilai from the moment I walked in and heard the Velvet Underground (followed by the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix). I liked it even more when I saw written on a mirror, "In love, youth/In youth, eternity/In eternity, love." Agreeing with that sentiment, I dove in to see what else in the shop would agree with me.

And just about all of the offerings did. The shop's aesthetic could be described as "happy gypsy with a day job"—fun but practical, colorful but not clownish, wearable but freewheeling. Some favorites: a form-fitting (but still office-appropriate) brown-and-black rayon print dress ($89)—great with a blazer for work, high-heeled boots for night, and flats for kicking around during the day; a short-sleeved grey, pink, and yellow striped knit dress with black "fluffy" trim at neck (wearable, I promise, but with a strong sense of whimsy), $119; a knit jacket in wine, "coffee," or cornflower, with leopard-print lining that's visible if you cuff the sleeves, $99; elastic-waisted, knee-length skirts handmade in Thailand from vintage materials ($109); and a wool-blend navy-and-black knit coat, $119, perfect for transitional times when you need a jacket but not a heavy one. And then there was something I described in my notes as "the world's most flexible dress." OK, I know that's a big statement; and this dress isn't hugely corporate if you need business wear. But otherwise: It's a sleeveless, knee-length purple silk jumper ($129, and also available in black) with a ruffled tier at the hem. Classic, long-lasting material; flexible length. Dress it up for formal events and down for casual parties; it could go to a wedding with great accessories and to most offices with a sweater. Works for day or night; and in a material appropriate for all seasons. Pretty flexible, I'd say! And pretty adorable, too.
The jewelry and accessories here were lovely, varied, and plentiful...and when I tried to describe them, I got a bit overwhelmed. But they're affordable, they're cute as heck, and I will say that I bought a sweet hair clip decorated with 3 lavender cloth roses for $12.

A few days ago, I decided to be a "happy gypsy" for Halloween. Looking at my notes for Callalilai, I don't doubt that their "free-spirit female" designs were an inspiration. Dip in to see how you can bring some of this pretty lightheartedness into your every day.   - Pamela Grossman; Oct 28, 2010

518 Broadway (near Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-2646