Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Three moms opening boutique in Hyde Park

Style extra

By Joy Kraft, jkraft@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Three Cincinnati moms with eight children underfoot (and one on the way) didn't have enough to do, so they put their business heads together to open the Alligator Purse, the newest shop in a renovated strip at 3516 Erie Ave. in Hyde Park (next to Belle Maison). Grand opening will be April 12.

        The sister-cousin trio combined the fashion, design and financial talents of the three owners — Karrie Crowther, Tracy Hartmann and Christine Browner. “We're all doing everything together,” says Ms. Hartmann.

        The store will carry casual-to-dressy designer clothes, including Diane Von Furstenberg and Chaiken; shoes from Sigerson Morrison, Espace and others; handbags from Rafe and several jewelry and accessory lines. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 871-6171.

        The ultimate do-it-yourselfer: If making your clothes delivers artistic satisfaction, you'll want to hook up with Sissy Puccio of the International School of Shoemaking and Design in Middletown. A mom who's always been handy with a needle, but her teens outgrew her lacy creations. So, she turned to making hats and purses, and — with the help of a partner in London — shoes.

        The two women will teach a class of six how to make a pair of leather mules Saturday and Sunday. There are two spots left in the $398 class, which includes materials, hands-on help “and all the tea and cookies you want,” says Ms. Puccio.They also sell shoe kits, hats, purses, vintage clothing, hatboxes and penny candies “just because it's fun.” Information: (513) 423-3449.

        Handbag designer show: Lana Marks, whose architectural-inspired handbags are hand-made in Italy from exotic leathers, including alligator, crocodile, ostrich and lizard, will be on hand to preview her spring collection at Diane Firsten, 2033 Madison Road in O'Bryonville, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and next Tuesday.

        Ms. Marks' exquisitely crafted bags are a weakness with the Hollywood set and have popped up in movies, including The Score with Angela Bassett and Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock. The collection includes 150 styles in 100 colors. Two of her well-known handbags are The Princess Diana Handbag and the Farrah Fawcett Tote, each the result of requests by their namesakes for personal designs. She also designs belts, wallets, shoes and ready-to-wear. Information: 871-3399.

        Men's trunk show: Hunt Club Clothiers, Fountain Square, will have trunk shows 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. next Tuesday and April 10 showing Samuelsohnmen's suits, sportcoats and trousers, and Schneiders of Salzburg's outerwear. Information: 721-2004.

        Not your mother's Birkenstocks: The new Birkenstock store at Rookwood Pavilion in Norwood (near Don Pablo's) is stocked with the sturdy shoes that always have promoted foot health.

        But the styles have come a long way from the suede and leather of the hippie rendition. The firm foot beds come in three styles — the classic, a high-arch support and a low-arch support — and colors and strap styles original fans won't recognize, such as gold, silver, stars and stripes and an African squares pattern. 531-1808.

        Bid on star boots: Country music stars Martina McBride, Jamie O'Neal, Chely Wright and Pam Tillis collaborated with Easy Spirit, a division of Nine West, to design a pair of one-of-a-kind cowgirl boots. The boots will be auctioned on e-bay to benefit Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, created for post-secondary educational assistance to financially needy dependents of Sept. 11 victims. The auction will be through April 10 at www.ebay.com.

        Bath fizzy: Next time you need a bath-getaway, think fizzies, like the old-time drink tablet that turned into a fizzling soft drink when dropped into tap water. Sally Beauty stores have a display of bath fizzies called Fizz in a Round, 2-inch balls of aromatherapy in soothing, tasty-sounding scents, including mandarin and vanilla. $1.99 each.

        Homemade beauty brews: Here is a trio of exfoliants you can whip up in the kitchen from Karen Miller of Anderson Cosmetic Hair & Vein Center in Anderson Township. Karen's Basic: 1 cup raw sugar mixed with 1/2 cup olive oil (you can add 1 teaspoon each grated ginger and/or rosemary for aromatherapy).

        Body scrub: 2 cups coarse sea salt and 1/4 cup ground apricot kernel. Honey scrub: 1/2 cup honey, 2 cups oatmeal and 1/3 cup corn meal. Each can be gently rubbed into skin.

       E-mail: jkraft@enquirer.com.


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