Lucy Barnes

Neighborhood: Chelsea
Type of Place: Women's Clothing

Individual style is paramount in both the design philosophy
and the storefront set-up of Scotland native Lucy Barnes. You see this in the bulletin-board snapshot display of Barnes' associates, family, and friends; in her use of vintage and hand-printed fabrics; and in her custom wedding gowns, customized patchwork/embroidery skirts, and custom-embroidered jeans. You see it on her website, which suggests that the perfect complement to a $300 skirt might be a $2 flea-market T- shirt find.

Barnes started out working for conglomerates like the Gap and DKNY; but as a solo designer, she's eager to tell you that your own tastes in color, fabric, cut, etc. are the ones that matter most. A custom-made and personalized patchwork skirt (the one on display in Barnes' shop had us riveted) can take the designer more than a week to make—so when you break it down to a per-hour labor cost, the price tag of about $1400 is perfectly reasonable. Still, it will probably be a bit of a budget stretch for shoppers who are not arriving at the store by limo. Not to worry: There's lots more here to love.

Barnes' designs for spring '05 tend toward either neutral shades (a lovely "ribbon skirt" in sage, $138; fresh black-and-white silk dresses, $350) or brights (a silk charmeuse blouse in grape, $210; a 3-tiered silk "gypsy skirt" in a choice of 6 shades, including magenta and violet, $325—available soon in cotton as well, for about $200). The lacy scarves (from $25), many made from vintage fabrics, would flatter many a spring outfit; and the T-shirts featuring an outline of the African continent ($39; available in 5 colors, from a company called Tree Pose; 10 percent of the proceeds go to a charity for children with AIDS in Africa) couple up nicely with any of Barnes' skirts. Don't forget about the cute rhinestone barrettes, starting at a bargain $5—or the 50- percent-off sales rack, just about guaranteed to spark interest.

Most important, don't forget Barnes' guiding design principle: Clothes you like and the ways you like to wear them define what's "in," rather than the other way around.
  - Pamela Grossman; 02/2005

Lucy Barnes
320 West 14th St.
(between 8th and 9th Aves)
New York, NY 10013

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