Mabel & Zora

Just as the trees are starting to bloom, 2008 is also being ushered in by the blossoming green tips of new boutiques poking through the ground—again! Last year saw so many openings that it bordered on worrisome; exactly how many independently owned dress shops can this town handle? And yet, they rarely seem to close... onward, then:

Gossamer Designs is an Eastside showroom with a specific bent, "cowgirl high style meets bohemian chic." Opened by Beth Olson and Vicki Wooten, the two design the in-house line of clothing, which repurposes vintage materials into one-of-a-kind dresses and tops that do in fact look like the collision of rodeo queen and gypsy styles, all ruffles, ribbons, and lace in vibrant colors to be paired with—of course—cowgirl boots. There are also choker necklaces dripping with costume chains and bangles festooned with vintage charms. The studio is open by appointment only, but this Friday they're hosting a premiere trunk show, so you can stop by for a peek. In addition to the Gossamer Designs merchandise, Kathy Brock will be on hand with an international collection of tribal jewelry, She She will offer its simple range of T-shirts, tanks, and hoodies printed with trees, rain clouds, and logos, plus pinup artist Brenda Dunn's renderings of vivacious and scantily dressed ladies. (Gossamer Designs, 8600 SE Stark, Suite A, Fri March 21, 7-10 pm)

Meanwhile, another boutique by the name of Covet has taken over the 429 SW 10th address, in close proximity to Odessa and the English Dept. That area of downtown is starting to give the shopping hubs on NW 23rd, E Burnside, Hawthorne, Alberta, and Mississippi a run for their money.

In the Pearl District, a brand-new location of Mabel & Zora has opened its doors at 748 NW 11th. (Northeast-dwelling shoppers need not fear; its original location at 1468 NE Alberta remains intact.) In keeping with the upscale vibe of the new neighborhood, the new Mabel & Zora is a bit more posh, and is filled with items from Voom, Dittos Jeans, Kersh, Plenty, Mixie, Trina Turk, Veronica M, Sofada, and more, plus gift-y goods like candles and soaps from lines like Lafco and Voluspa. It's definitely worth a visit to check out all the things they're doing right, and it's good to see their success at a time when so many small businesses are struggling just to get by.

Some good news for the guys: Flutter (3948 N Mississippi) is venturing into men's clothing with the debut of Frocky Jack Morgan designer Julia Barbee's new men's line, plus European men's toiletries. Score, dudes.