Kaelen Haworth’s East Village

kaelenCourtesy Kaelen Haworth

The East Village is “such a great mix of high, low, trendy, traditional, gritty, sophisticated,” muses designer Kaelen Haworth. The Toronto native and Parsons graduate has been designing her eponymous brand of polished womenswear since 2010, and finds a good deal of inspiration in the neighborhood. “There are millions of vintage shops in the area that are an interesting resource for designers,” she says. “I was late for work this morning but still debating running to the vintage shop at Second and Second to try on an awesome furry thing in the window.” And she digs her adopted home for more than just fashion: The designer recently clued us in to some “dangerous” cocktails and dog-friendly coffee spots where you might find her sipping with her French bulldog, Lola.

Favorite coffee spot
I like The Bean. They’re dog-friendly, which is cool because I have a dog and geek out over other dogs. Also I think the best coffee in my hood is from the Juicy Lucy stand on the corner of First and First.  It’s amazing and the staff is so nice. I don’t have to order anymore — they know I need coffee and lots of it before small talk.

Best cocktails
Elsa has excellent cocktails. I went there for a friend’s birthday and I’m not a huge cocktail person in all, honestly (I take a no-nonsense approach to my drinks) but I really liked the cucumber/gin concoction. They can also do the thinking for you. You just tell them the liquor and they go from there. Another great one is Mayahuel on Sixth Street. The tequila cocktails are out of this world. A little dangerous, but worth it.

Best beauty treatment
I’m a fan of Sakura. I go for the manicures and pedicures but I consider that a beauty treatment. It’s a nice quiet space that’s really relaxing.

Favorite quiet spot
For quieter nights, I go to Death + Company. It feels really sophisticated to have a real drink in a dark place where you can actually talk to the person you’re with.

And loud spot
When I’m feeling loud, I like to go to Blind Barber. It’s a great bar where you can dance but you can also breathe a little bit. Great music and atmosphere. I also love Webster Hall for concerts. It definitely gets loud in there. I saw Mark Ronson there a while ago and it was a massive dance party.

Favorite new discovery
L’asso isn’t new, but they’re new to the East Village and I’m thrilled about it. The original location in NoLita is always crammed, but this location is spacious and cute with a bigger menu. We haven’t had to wait yet and I’m also into that.

Best local boutiques
I love Ninth Street between Second and Third. Verameat is a cool jewelry store where I got my French bulldog ring (I have a real live one, Lola). They have really cool stuff and it’s different. Also Fabulous Fanny’s is on that block, and I could spend days in there. Drawers and drawers of glasses, vintage clothes, jewelry and a very honest staff. They’ll tell you if the frames you love aren’t good for your face. And you’ll hate them. But then you’ll find the ones that are, and you’ll love them again. I also love Mast Books on A.

Warm-weather haunt
I like sitting outside at Frank, that is if you haven’t had to barter your firstborn child for a table. Also Belcourt has a great brunch and a big patio that’s also good for a bottle of wine in the evening. Or mid-day, whatever you fancy. Bua on Saint Marks is good for a casual beer. It can get a touch rowdy, but it’s not on the main drag so you’re not in the midst of all that crazy.

Inspiring East Villagers
I read Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir recently, and I think she’s pretty rad. Her restaurant, Prune, is obviously awesome but the lines are out of this world. The Hole Gallery on Bowery has some great stuff.  I absolutely adore Patti Smith and reading her book Just Kids made me wish I could have seen Saint Marks as it was when she was there. The history is really interesting and inspiring to me.

Before signing off, we ask Ms. Haworth our favorite question—Did you choose the East Village, or did the East Village choose you? “I honestly don’t know,” she says, “but I remember passing the gas station on Second Avenue and Second Street in a cab when I first moved to the city. We were going to a bar on the Lower East Side, and I thought to myself, I could never live in this area. It seemed too intimidating. And now I live literally around the corner from that spot and love it. So I guess it chose me.”

Angela Cravens is the editorial director of the pop culture “channelzine” Arcade 44

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