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[whitespace] The New Downtown Look

Forget the Avon Lady, go for trash!

By Katy Bell

I realized long ago that the fashion that truly interests me is rule-breakin', low-brow trash. Anyone can wear the button-down conventionality of United Republic of Gap, but if you think twice about your clothes, you might as well make people want to screw your brains out.

Designers Michael and Hushi like trash, and that's what their new spring collection, Brothel Chic, is all about. It features blends of black lace and gold mesh, tiger and peacock prints, and velour for the ultimate over-the-top, designer call girl look. These boys are reviving early '80s disco sleaze (along with everyone else) and infusing it with "Persian royalty and Third World chic." I get the royalty part, but is "Third World" code for "scanty"?

When the designers first hooked up, they were club kids suckling at the breast of American pop. Hushidar Mortezaie grew up in Iran idolizing '80s television and cartoons. At 18, he joined San Franciscan Michael Sears to design a quilted silver and fur-trimmed jumpsuit for a New Year's Eve fete. Years later, after Hushidar legally changed his last name to Robot, the pair opened Sears and Robot.

The store's initial offerings included Japanese kitsch, robots, Sailor Moon clocks, Hello Kitty bath sets, Astro Boy glasses and Winky flight bags--the humorous, candy-coated product goo that mates Japanese-style cartoon imagery with the plastic perfection of America. Past themes have included plastic surgery and drug use, all carried out in colorful, high-tech fabrics. You know the porno print shirts worn by Brad Pitt in Fight Club? Yep, they did those.

Another hallmark of Michael and Hushi is change. The spring line ushers in a new phase at Sears and Robot, one that includes a new name: Michael and Hushi. It's a gutsy move in a business world where name recognition is currency. The shop will still feature its characteristic truckload of kitsch, tasseled unicorn T's and "Rock the Casbah" Mercedes pendants, alongside more clothes than before and one-of-a-kind pieces.

Did I mention that Michael Sears has a diamond drilled through one of his front teeth, for a beautiful perma-twinkle? Don't you love these guys? Look for them at www.michaelandhushiinc.com.

Sears and Robot, 120 E. 7th St., New York, NY 10009; 212.253.8719

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From the April 17, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc.