Friday, December 19, 2008

Shopping Gay

The great thing about being gay is that everyone thinks you have an elevated aesthetic sense and refined tastes. And while that may occasionally be true, the bad part is that people assume it is just because you are gay. And that leads to things like a recent encounter I had with a young woman I was introduced to who, upon finding out I am gay, said, "Oh my God I would love to go shopping with you!"

Oh how fun for me.

The real deal isn't that the gays automaticaly have great taste, it's that we pay attention and we care. It's all learned. And that means that everybody can have great taste! In the immortal words of
style icon Brenda Dickson, "Fashion is something that can be acquired. And you too, be it male or female, can be very fashionable."

This time of year the concern is less fashion and more fashionable gift-giving, and so while I sit here watching the snow swirl around my Mies building, listening to Barbra's A Christmas Album and burning my Ralph Lauren "Holiday" candle (gay gay gay), I'm going to point out two great Detroit shops that are not only gay-calibre shopping destinations in the city, but also "best in show" for the entire SEMi region.

206 E. Grand River, 2nd Floor, in the Merchant's Apparel Building

Second-floor retail may seem counter-intuitive, but in Detroit none of the usual rules apply. It works to the advantage for
Mezzanine, which is a high-end modern design store. The space is basically a loft space in a historic building near the Detroit Opera House, Small Plates and the new YMCA, and the overall look of the store is pretty much minimal gallery-esque with an absolutely fabulous view of downtown.

Even though it is home to the $4000 sofa, they also have a lot of gifts and home accessories at lower price points. There were things from $7 up when I was looking around the other day. They carry a curated selection of merchandise and feature the big names like Jonathan Adler, Alessi and Rosenthal as well as a lot of lesser-known lines and some vintage modern items as well. I would describe the aesthetic as northern European modern.

Finding Mezzanine is a little tricky the first time - you have to look up for the window signs, or just cool lighting. If you go to the corner of Broadway and E. Grand River, the entrance to the building is on GR. You ring for the elevator and an elevator attendant comes down and brings you up in the old manually-operated elevator. It's a totally "downtown" experience. Oh, and it's owned by a 'mo.

Here are some gift items I thought were great:

These vellum wine garlands are my new hostess gift.

Jonathan Adler scented candles and frames in tasteful white porcelain.

This is the pitcher/vase I have always loved at Eve the Restaurant in A2.

These little porcelain figures were so effin' cute, I want that nativity scene so
I can celebrate
my lapsed Christianity with irony.

Bureau of Urban Living
460 West Canfield Street, in the Canfield Lofts

Bureau of Urban Living is the great little home store everyone wants in their neighborhood, so if you live in Midtown you have totally scored. Bureau is full of great modern accessories for the home and office, with an eye on fun-but-tasteful design and affordability.

Bureau is designy in a way that is clearly put together by a graphic designer. It's like a nice neutral graphic background of a store with lots of great color and groupings for wow factor. Bureau is a tiny little store but is packed full of great things. I love the simple homewares - my wastebaskets, napkins and candles all come from their, and I often get gifts for my nieces there as well! Bureau is a good place for gifts for girls, by the way!

Bureau could not be easier to find. It is on the ground floor of the Canfield Lofts, just west of Cass Avenue. They have a lovely red sign out front, and they are next to Motor City Brewing Works and across the street from the Traffic Jam and Snug.

Here are some fun things I saw in there yesterday:

The now-famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" Detroit-style: on a t-shirt. (Posters also available!)

I just adored this grouping.

Some of the great textile items by local artist Carl Oxley III!

Especially for this weather!

If these places are good enough for the discerning homosexualists of the world then they are good enough for those of you who aspire to good taste - and now you don't need us to shop with you! So do yourself a favor - patronize two great Detroit stores AND get better gifts than you will anyplace else!

Both stores are open with extended holiday hours through Tuesday, so get to steppin'! You can thank me later.



Sean said...

Those Adler candles are sweet!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Thanks for the info! Also, most of the Gays I know have an elevated aesthetic sense and refined tastes.

I know that not all Gay people are fashion stylists or interior designers but, nobody can dress you better than a Gay fashion addict.

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