The only time we seriously contemplated stealing something was in the fitting room of the old Fiorucci store on 59th street. It was a baggy gray-and-red checked flannel smock dress with a round collar and buttons up the back, and in the end we broke down and bought it, even though it cost $65, which at the time represented more than half our weekly income.
That Fiorucci was a special place, situated somewhere in the imaginary territory between Studio 54 and the downtown art scene. (In reality it was located incongruously across from Bloomingdale’s.) It had a multicolored neon sign that shimmered even in daylight, salespeople who included drag legend Joey Arias, and a rapidly shifting stock of merchandise, the stars of which were a host of cherub-bedecked items. This pair of seraphim and their starry crowns embellished everything from beach towels to bracelets, laundry bags to baby bibs. In their deliberate babyishness they prefigured the adult thirst for juvenilia that would be slaked decades later by Hello Kitty, and we greeted them with the same enthusiasm with which we would embrace Kitty when her flagship arrived on 42nd Street a few decades later.
Fiorucci passed away a long time ago (it was resurrected once, briefly and unsuccessfully, at the corner of Houston and Broadway). So we were quite surprised, and pleasantly, when we walked past a street poster the other day announcing that those familiar angels had alit once agin, joining Cynthia Rowley, Michael Graves, and most notably Isaac Mizrahi on the roster at Target, a place for which we have mixed feelings, to say the least.
Why does Target spend a fortune on super-chic TV commercials—a whole series of which broke up the boredom of the Golden Globes the other night—and not one cent on making their stores even minimally attractive? We were glad to learn, from the ad, that the relatively unknown British fashion designer Luella Bartley has been recruited, but our heart sank at the prospect of finding her stuff hanging across from stacks of detergent and teetering cereal box towers. In short, no matter how seductive the Shabby Chic rug or Mizrahi cardigan, the Target chain, with its hopelessly bland, regimented interior design, hideous flat lighting, and utter lack of sales help, let’s face it, incredibly depressing.
In any case, there’s no Target in Manhattan. No matter how much you want Cynthia Rowley silverware, you have to go either to College Point, Queens (which research reveals is very difficult without a car, and who has a car in Manhattan?) or, more feasibly, take the subway to the branch in downtown Brooklyn.
When the Brooklyn store opened, a bunch of our friends got on the train and came back laden with Michael Graves teapots and toasters. Not us. A previous experience at a staggeringly unglamorous Long Island Target full of waddling suburbanites pushing mammoth carts around a parking lot the size of Denmark left us unenthusiastic about repeating the experience anytime soon. (Yes, we’re spoiled. But really, Target, and its cousins Kmart and, most horrible of all, WalMart, makes even Old Navy seem hip and interesting.)
Still for a split second we contemplate getting on that train, so strong is our desire to reconnect with those angels. But only for a second. Then we decide to log on to Target.com, and, from the deep comfort of our Edwardian bedstead, scrunched up under Martha Stewart flannel sheets (so adorable, and decorated with tiny skiers—and yes, we bought them in person, but then again Kmart is literally a block for the Voice) we start surfing.
Unfortunately, though we have visions of angels showing up on lockets and lampshades and leggings, Target has resorted to putting our friends on the blandest items in the history of fashion: tote bags and, even worse, T-shirts. Though we scroll through all seven pages—which takes an eon with our creaky old Mac—this is all we find.
But how like life—though we haven’t thought about these cherubs in decades, now we want them around us all over again. So, without getting out of bed, we scoot over to eBay and find a violet angel watch with a starting bid of $1 and no competition in sight.
But alas, no Joey Arias either.