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Minnie Wilde

Demonstrating Self-Control

It was not surprising to find that torrential, apocalyptic rainfall did not deter fashionistas from ducking into Minnie Wilde, a diy-flavored boutique brightening up Laguna in Hayes Valley. And while it's hard to resist the charm of the heartsy but not cheesy Valentine's Day display, it was even more difficult to resist spending my entire paycheck.

Every item in this cozy space has "cute", "saucy" and "stylish" written all over-- from the nostalgic charm earrings to the silk-screened totes, deconstructed tops and signature bomber jackets in tasty fabrics and textures. Terri Olson and Ann D'Apice have provided delectable threads and bobbles for "arty smarty party" girls since Minnie Wilde opened its doors in May of 2001 with their own clothing line designed by Terri and jewelry by Ann.

Minnie Wilde specializes in limited, small runs of clothing inspired by vintage, rare fabrics and cuts, and one-of-a-kind accessories. No two pairs of earrings are the same and likewise for necklaces. On my visit there were a mere three pairs of heels displayed in jewel-toned suedes and leathers that Terri and Ann picked up at a shoe convention in LA.

Earrings tend towards dangly and bedazzled with silver chains, soft leather and fun charms -- roller skates, doves, unicorns, and hearts galore. They sell for upwards of $30 a pop. Novelty fabrics are purchased in limited amounts, so only four or five sizes are made in each color or texture per style. Once it's sold out, it's gone and replaced by something no less fresh. When fabrics are reused the following season, they are usually designed into something completely different -- for example, a camel plaid used for a bomber jacket last season reappeared as a sassy cap this season.

The motocross jacket and its cropped sister are the most sought-after and recognizable Minnie Wilde items and start at $175. It is currently available in stretch corduroy of five different colors, a stretch red eyelet fabric, floral satin, as well as twill. Terri and Ann also design their own tube socks. Terri cuts samples in the back of the store and the runs are produced locally in San Francisco. Most recently added to the Minnie Wilde collection is Minnie Wilde Magic, their own fragrance created by local perfumer Yosh. Terri and Ann selected a custom blend of tiger lily, pink grapefruit, vanilla, Egyptian tuberose and other essential oils and packaged it in a cute pink box designed by a friend.

To showcase their line and as a treat to their customers, Minnie Wilde has started hosting their own events. October saw the Makeout Room in the Mission district transformed into a foxy French disco deejayed by Jeffrodesiac of the Paradise Boys. There are tentative plans for a future event this spring with details in the works. Make sure you're in the know by visiting www.minniewilde.com and adding yourself to the mailing list.

In addition to their own line, approximately 40% of Minnie Wilde's store space goes to other designers -- a blend of friends and independent little-known names. Terri and Ann prefer carrying small lines of designers who are just starting out as opposed to larger established lines. Some of the lines they currently carry are Lisa Fontaine bags, superfox jewelry, a good girl bags, Nooworks tees, Pink Spike tees, DaVon accessories, Sergio Valente jeans and reconstructed vintage pieces by Magpie Rita. Also, I couldn't help but notice a handful of hand screen-printed notecards done by Lisa Wong of Good on Paper design, and several pairs of arm warmers with detachable mittens.

Fun names like "get around gauchos", "hottie air balloon tee" and "good ship lollipop skirt" perfectly convey the sassy air and attitude of Minnie Wilde. The blazin' blazer, sassy sailor pants, heart to heart top, and rock your socks off knickers are waiting to be snatched up before disappearing into the girl next door's closet for good, so mosey on down to the boutique and treat yourself to some delicious duds. But be forewarned: it takes rigid self-control to leave without your wallet significantly lighter.