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Third Coast Style to Open Saturday
Here's why you should be excited.

Image courtesy of Third Coast Style. 

Patrice Procopio's Water Street store, Third Coast Style (514 N. Water St.), opens Saturday, Sept. 7. At a media preview Thursday evening, I got to take a look at the wares from more than 30 local clothing, accessories and jewelry designers featured in the store, as well as art by one inspiring 17-year-old. I also got a sneak peek at the single chair, in-store salon. 

Procopio, an artist herself, opened the store to give local designers and artists a platform to which they might not otherwise have access. And based on the response from the designers alone, there was certainly demand.
The store's blond wood floors and white gilded ceiling mean plenty of light filters into its front parlor, which is intended to be used by the designers who might not have a proper showroom or studio at which to meet clients. The store's windows look out at one of Water Street's less-than-lovely stretches. 

Schweiss' work. Photo courtesy of my iPhone. 

Facing inward, the right wall will be used as a rotating gallery space; for the store's opening, the featured artist is 17-year-old Menomonee Falls high school student Jill Schweiss, whose mixed media paintings seem filled with both whimsy and self-awareness. 

At left, my favorite piece by Schweiss. 

And while the hanging art was a great touch, the boutique is primarily about the wearables. And there was no shortage of interesting pieces, many of which had superb construction and no shortage of intricate details. 

Many of the designers were on hand at the preview and I had the chance to chat with a few, like Melissa Wagner-Lawler, whose lace-like beaded necklaces recently made headlines when Miranda Levy wore one on an episode of "Project Runway." Speaking of, both Timothy Westbrook and Mirandy Levy's designs are sold at Third Coast Style. Westbrook had two scarves on display, both woven with his signature repurposed cassette tape, and Levy had a selection of separates, including one sweetheart neck, cut-out dress in teal. In contrast to Levy's lush retro stylings were Bree Rose's colorful selection of printed (and metallic) leggings. 

And unlike any boutique I've seen recently, Third Coast Style has bio cards next to each designer's items that describe his or her background and perspective. The headshot above each bio adds a personal touch. It's not often you try on a sweater and find yourself looking eye-to-eye with its maker. 

The majority of the jewelry can be found in the back of the store in the converted wood and glass bakery cases that now block off the salon area. Pictured at right are rings by local artist Mike Veon, who scours Lake Michigan's beaches to look for gemstones and fossils. The end results are fabulous. My poor photo doesn't do these rings justice, because they're truly special, settings and all. Who knew pretty periwinkle was mixed among the algae in our Lake? Not this writer, that's for sure. 

So how will the store fare? If the "shop local" craze withstands, I think it should be just fine. But even if it ebbs, there's one sentiment that I suspect will linger: these items cannot be found elsewhere and they're totally of and for Milwaukee. 

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