The Rise And Fall Of Charivari, The Cult Boutique Of Fashion’s Cutting Edge

by MR Magazine Staff

Fashion insiders sometimes use war metaphors to explain their world—they describe going to the collections in New York, Milan, and Paris as being in the trenches—and that can be a shocker. How, one may ask, can sitting at a fashion show watching done-up models strut up and down the runway, while showing off the latest trends in frocks, leggings, jackets, and jumpsuits to the beat of Lady Gaga, have anything to do with such a serious subject? Of course it doesn’t really, but without poetic license there would be no fashion. Besides, stick around and check out the battles between the powerful fashion houses, watch the way the big stores fight with each other for designer exclusives, witness the fierce rivalry among the editors, cry for the firing and cheer for the hiring of talent, don’t forget the burnouts and meltdowns, and you’ll get the point—there is plenty of blood to mop up at the end of each season. One of the saddest fashion deaths in American retail history was the one that befell Charivari, an irrepressible mini fashion empire, created by the Weiser family, that had brought avant-garde clothes to the previously unfashionable Upper West Side of Manhattan and in the process had helped revolutionize retail and fashion itself. When they had to throw in the towel in the late 1990s by filing for bankruptcy, it was a stab in the heart of experimental fashion and a blow to their beloved New York neighborhood. To this day people who loved their constellation of one-of-a-kind boutiques—which started with a single small store in 1967—miss them and ask, “What happened?” Read more at Vanity Fair.