Material Girl

imageWhen it comes to shopping for clothes, I’ve always favored small, boutique-y environments over busy chain stores. Call me high-maintenance, but I like getting special attention from sales staff such as frequent phone calls informing me about all the latest merch, free alterations and the ability to buy anything on layaway. Judging from the friendly vibe at Helianthus, a hip East Village hideaway, which recently popped-up on LaGuardia Place, I’m hoping to get even more of the same star treatment.

An unassuming street littered with casual eateries catering to the NYU crowd, LaGuardia Place is the last locale I expected to find a hidden shopping gem like Helianthus. Stocked with a well-edited mix of girly gear with an urban twist, Helianthus is a true shopper’s paradise thanks to prices that won’t break the bank. Owner Grace Wong, a recent FIT design graduate who apprenticed for Anna Sui, initially opened Helianthus (which is Greek for “sunflower”) to showcase her soon-to-be-designed clothing label. But since business has been booming from day one, those plans were temporarily put on the backburner. So for now, Helianthus’ racks are hanging with a bevy of established and indie brands from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

Expect an eye-opening palette of purple, shimmery silver and charcoal grey silhouettes that perfectly complement the hot pink plastic chairs and matching trash bin. Get a jumpstart on your fall wardrobe with flirty, punk-influenced ’80’s ensembles ranging from blousy ruffled tops by Alisha Levine, knee-grazing knits by Ulla Johnson, silk halters by Samantha Treacy and buttery leather carryalls with gold hardware by Bulga. And for jewelry junkies, there’s a gargantuan glass display filled with rhinestone-encrusted headbands, pendants with skulls and pretty chandelier earrings. Throw on a pair of patent leather skimmers, a bunch of silver studded bracelets and a wide cinch belt and you’ve got the Cyndi Lauper look down to a science. Multi-colored hairdo not included.

  • Helianthus
  • 552 La Guardia Place (btw Bleecker & West 3rd)
  • 212-677-6888
  • Mon.-Sat. 11-8pm; Sun. 11:30-7pm
  • helianthusny.com
  • $100-$400
  • exchange or store credit within 7 days of purchase
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