Trend Report: Bethesda Row

By Michelle Thomas
Sunday, September 27, 2009

On strollable Bethesda Row, Zen apothecaries and trendy boutiques share the streets with al fresco dining spots and gelato shops

#1 luna

This compact shop is no newcomer to the neighborhood -- it's been a mainstay on Woodmont Avenue since 2001. What is new, though: a lower-priced selection of on-trend and better-than-basic staples from lines such as Lani, Glam and Free People. Other draws? A stellar stash of funky statement jewelry (think colorful beaded bangles and chunky cocktail rings) and a comprehensive denim selection from William Rast, Citizens of Humanity and Hudson, plus Big Buddha handbags and Love Quotes scarves. This mod navy-and-orange dress ($98) from Collective Concepts is the perfect segue between sweltering summer and crisp fall -- just swap gold sandals for brown riding boots. 7232 Woodmont Ave., 301-656-1111.

#2 sassanova

Though this spacious boutique may be sister to two other Sassanova stores, don't expect to find the same high-end stock as sold in the Wisconsin Avenue and Baltimore shops. This location -- which opened in mid-July -- offers a larger selection of lower-priced but high-style lines such as Marais, French Sole and Gwyneth, alongside their higher-priced brethren such as Oscar de la Renta and Moschino. Also available: an expanded children's selection, M Z Wallace handbags, luxe letterpress cards and fanciful jewelry, such as this handmade fabric and ribbon showpiece necklace from Nelle ($175). 7134 Bethesda Lane, 301-654-7403.

#3 blue mercury

This locally based modern apothecary chain opened its first boutique in Georgetown a decade ago. These days, there are 26 stores in 12 states, and this airy outpost is one of the newest. Founder Marla Malcolm Beck vets the products; then the shelves are stocked with luxe makeup lines (Trish McEvoy, T. LeClerc) and niche body care (Jurlique, Molton Brown). But the real coup is the boutique's cache of the obscure: The store specializes in making the hard-to-find easy to find, with a host of artisanal and European fragrances such as perfume-junkie favorites Serge Lutens ($120), L'Artisan Parfumeur ($95) and Acqua di Parma ($83). 7105 Bethesda Lane, 301-986-0070.

#4 vivi

In this gallery-like home store, a thoughtfully edited selection of tableware, artwork and home decor perfectly fuses sleek, contemporary design with smart functionality. Go here for hand silk-screened silicone placemats, delicate vases and wooden tiles hand-painted by local artist Karen Deans. Among the goods: Working Class Studio's quirky, durable melamine plates ($7-$9 each), perfect for parties or picnics. 7254 Woodmont Ave., 301-656-5626.

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