The only reliable thing in fashion is that it will always change, and change in Portland is epidemic. Ten years ago, I counted cockroaches in a hotel room that is now part of the vaunted Ace Hotel, and watched clubgoers across the street at what is now the airy and swank Living Room Theaters. Other businesses now in the area include the elegant Odessa boutique, American Apparel, and—as of July 3—the English Dept.
For just over two years, the store founded by Elizabeth Dye and Joy Cohen has been ensconced on NW 23rd, a virtual outdoor mall of small boutiques and restaurants that are increasingly rubbing elbows with big chains like Khiel's and Restoration Hardware. Small, tenderly edited establishments like Souchi, Seaplane, and Blake remain not-to-be-missed reasons to spend the odd afternoon cruising up and down the street—still, the English Dept. will be missed by its neighbors.
The store's new home, at 1124 SW Alder, has a smaller square footage, which will allow Cohen and Dye to have a smaller, more intimate selection. Particularly because of the English Dept.'s brilliant bridal section, which offers un-fussy options for modern brides, the store is already a destination spot, and therefore probably won't suffer from its removal from a street with lots of sidewalk traffic. Plus, it's sure to catch the eye of visitors at the Ace and other nearby downtown hotels.
Other than the new digs, you'll still find the lines you can rely on the English Dept to carry: Development, Built by Wendy, and Elizabeth Dye's eponymous designs. New for fall is the British line Eley Kishimoto; an international collection of colorful pieces that is definitely one to anticipate, and Kloset Red Carpet, a line from Thailand. They'll also update their bridal collection with new dresses from Jenny Yoo, Vera Wang Maids, Simple Silhouettes, and Thread. In the meantime, you can still catch the tail end of their moving sale, with 50 percent off of everything outside of the bridal section, through June 30.
And apparently the moving bug is contagious: Matisse (1411 NE Broadway) is pulling up its NE stakes and moving to the Pearl (1236 NW Flanders). Due to make the move in mid-July, it will cozy up in a partitioned space within Cargo's walls, and the higher-profile space is sure to blow the lid off one of PDX's best-kept boutique secrets.
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