Shops We Love: Alpana Bawa

Alpanabawa_opener by Andi Teran
For those tired of the monochrome stereotype (read: New Yorkers love black!) and current goth trends alike, it's time to give your wardrobe an injection of color. After operating for nine years in the southern bosom of Soho, designer Alpana Bawa has brought her eponymous boutique and vibrant wares back to its original East 1st Street location. Tucked behind a busy basketball court and among the cozy cafés that give the area its neighborhood charm, the space—recently redesigned by Thomas Sand—is nothing but stark white walls and sleek black floors, a strategy that allows the vividness of the clothing to speak for itself.
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Drawing from her frequent travels to India (where all Alpana Bawa production takes place) and from found objects, Bawa constructs everything from mod shift dresses in electric teals and violets to elaborately embroidered shirts summoned by the Gods of Graffiti.
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"I call it my global, spiritual shirt," Bawa explains. After spying a spray-painted stencil of a handgun on a downtown street, she felt compelled to reinterpret it. "It has an embroidered rendering of a Buddha, the goddess of money, the Islamic star, and Ganesh, the God of Good Luck," she says of the crisp, tailored shirt detailed with multi-colored threads. "And there's a gun, of course," she smiles, "shooting hearts."
Some of the standout winter pieces that easily transition to spring include blazing orange motorcycle vests, marigold cotton blouses, and light coats in plum and poppy. For men, there are timeless multi-striped wool scarves in combinations such as brick red, ivy green, and slate gray, shirts of varying jewel hues, and a flurry of paisley ties. Whatever you choose, at Alpana Bawa there's always gold at the end of the rainbow.
Alpana Bawa, 70 East First Street, 212-254-1249; www.alpanabawa.com
East Village mainstay Alpana Bawa draws inspiration from the streets of Manhattan all the way to her native India, bringing bold brights and whimsical prints to easy-going Technicolor-dream pieces.
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