Shelly Steffee

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Type of Place: Women's Clothing

We just saw a wonderful documentary called "Seamless" at the
Tribeca Film Festival, about the competifion between 10 designer
finalists for a $200,000 prize from the CFDA (Council of Fashion
Designers of America) and one year of professional guidance from a
mentor in the field. This contest is essentially like the Olympics for
designers—all the top contestants are worthy, and all have been
working extremely hard for years to achieve their goals, but there's
one top prize to be taken. The documentary succeeds in capturing the
attendant emotions washing over the finalists—their hopes and fears,
victories and setbacks, daily highs and lows. We'll admit we had a few
tears in our eyes at times, just as we tend to cry a bit during the
Olympic's more dramatic moments of joy or pain: A perfect 10 and a
perfect design are different in type but not altogether different in

Along these lines, we'd like to tell you this week about Shelly
who might be referred to as a "designer's designer." After graduating
from design school in Pennsylvania and working with Anne Klein for 5
years, Steffee set up shop on her own, designing and making clothing
on site at her shop/studio. He clothes may sometimes seem a bit
complex (rough outer seams, blouses with asymmetrical arms), but
they're thoughtful, daring, and often beautiful. They take risks—and
where is the room for greatness in playing everything safe?

We liked her blouses for spring (starting at $160) and her floaty
dresses (from $450). Her sequinned belts (check for current price)
have garnered attention for their loveliness and their flexibility—you
wear them in your hair as easily as around your waist. And her pants
(starting at $395) have what we overheard one fan describe as a
"ridiculously good fit."

A lover of art in various forms, Steffee uses her shop space as gallery
space as well, helping to promote up-and-coming visual artists; and
she's planning to hold literary events there as well. Check the website
or contact the shop for further details.
  - Pamela Grossman; April 27, 2005

Shelly Steffee
34 Gansevoort St.
New York, NY 10014

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