East Beats West?

The brand new shops at the Bravern give Bellevue a style edge.

By Laura Cassidy August 10, 2009 Published in the September 2009 issue of Seattle Met

Wolford takes leggings to the next level at the new Shops at the Bravern (shown in an architectural rendering, below).

Ken Downing, style icon and national fashion director for Neiman Marcus, grew up in Burien, so when NM anchors the Bravern shops with its 41st luxury department store, can we refer to our sprees there as “shopping local”? Maybe not, but here are three reasons not to quibble: the legendary women’s shoe salon; a luxe, top-floor men’s club room devoted to made-to-measure attire; and 166 works of art, placed throughout the 125,000-square-foot space, made by 27 artists with Northwest ties. Neiman Marcus, 11111 NE Eighth St, Bellevue, 425-452-3300;

Considering denim-obsessed LA and all the distressed knees and studded skinnies on Melrose Avenue, how did Bellevue get the first West Coast installation of DNA 2050? Maybe the gurus at IK Retail Group, the powerhouse behind the coed jeans-as-life boutique (and brands such as United Colors of Benetton and G-Star Raw) heard about our tendency to show up at the ballet in boyfriend jeans. Or maybe they figure our figures can benefit from labels like Denim and Thread and Genetic Denim, and from the now-four-store chain’s laboratory-like approach to fit, fashion, and high-end trends. DNA 2050, 700 110th Ave NE Ste 160, Bellevue, 425-456-8780;

You’ll never leave the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa after a facial service—whether a simple brow waxing or a pampering warm-stone treatment—without a complimentary makeup application. How could you turn it down, considering not only the spa’s neighbors (you wouldn’t walk into Louis Vuitton without your face on, would you?) but also the pioneering legend behind the custom-blended foundations and ruby lipsticks? The year 2010 marks 100 years since Arden opened her first restorative beautification boutique. Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, 700 110th Ave NE Ste 290, Bellevue, 425-455-3700;

Two words: circular knitting. Having mastered premier legwear (don’t call it hosiery; patterned thigh-highs and long, over-the-shoe leggings have rendered the term passé), Wolford’s Austria-based design team applies seam-free techniques to luxuriously comfortable lingerie, swimwear, and wardrobe basics. Feminine, practical bodysuits (they’re back), knit dresses, and ultrapretty retro-styled underthings in the season’s merlot and deep, bright blue palettes pair perfectly with opaque tights for stylish tone-on-tone and color-blocked looks. Wolford, 11111 NE Eighth St Ste 147, Bellevue, 425-456-8780;

Designed with the artful mosaic floor and grand spaciousness of the Parisian flagship on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in mind, the Bellevue Hermès boutique ought to inspire lofty trajectories. So should the aviation-themed ready-to-wear fall collection, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. Consider an iconic Birkin bag, done this season in the kind of worn-soft but tough-as-nails matte-gray leather you might find in the cockpits of Paul Allen’s historic fighter jets. Hermès, 11111 NE Eighth St Ste 145, Bellevue, 425-456-8780;

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