Desert Gems, Inc.
Since its move from way-north Broadway to Lakewood, this gem of a store has become a prime gathering place for bead artists, metalsmiths, rock hounds and others interested in designing their own necklaces, earrings and whatnots. From clasps to cabochons to an astonishing variety of beads, all the jewelry-making fixings are here -- along with classes, books, a helpful staff, kitschy stone carvings, selenite wands and more. Learn the peyote stitch and go to town.
Amy Kahn delivers one helluva Big O. The rest of her "O" collection of jewelry is pretty fine, too, but that giant silver (or gold) circle floating in the middle of your chest attracts mad attention. It's simple and sleek and perfect for all occasions. Locally, Kahn is every independent shop's favorite jewelry gal, and retailers across the country have recently made her one of this city's best exports. Thanks to Kahn, you're looking good, Denver.
If fashion makes a statement, then Lee Alexander Jewelery is the exclamation point at the end. Designer Christa Rost is known for her larger-than-life gem creations, featuring everything from quartz to carnelian. Her piece de resistance, however, is the crystal quartz necklace that showcases one giant, faceted Austrian crystal pendant surrounded by crystal quartz petals. You'll never want to take it off.
Willow - An Artisans' Market
Helen Rice's Willow is one of those hidden finds, a showcase for local artisans. Small and friendly, it's pleasantly filled with bright Fimo clay makeup brushes and quilted fish mobiles, handpainted furniture and pottery plates etched with leafy fossil patterns, not to mention a candy-colored army of glass wind chimes and sun-catchers. Fall head over heels for Nina Sampsel's collection of knit and boiled-wool Sweet Cakes chapeaus, heart pillows, bags and pins, as well as the exquisite beaded jewelry of Jane Albright, whose rustic woven-sunflower necklace will break your heart with its beauty.
GlowFur garments are the ultimate nightlife accessory, thanks to their internal battery-powered light system that can be switched on and off like a lamp. Designed by Colorado Springs entrepreneur David Lee, the illuminated faux-fur coats, boleros, handbags, scarves, leggings and bikini separates come in eight rave-ready lighting colors that glow in the dark like a Flokati rug on fire. Baby, it's hot in here.
Long before that corporate punk invaded Denver, there was FashioNation, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year. The homegrown boutique took its name from an episode of the 1960s Batman TV series in which the vixenish villainess Catwoman plotted to steal clothing from a fashion show sponsored by "FashioNation Magazine." A few years back, the shop moved its groovie-ghoulie digs into the space formerly occupied by Wax Trax vinyl, which gave owner Paul Italiano room to expand his awesome inventory of Docs, goth garb and punk paraphernalia -- and to pump up the volume to eleven. Oy!
Clothes make the woman -- and Susan Matthews creates some stunners. In addition to doing basic alterations, she restyles clothing for the transgendered community, helping clients to fill out fabulous frocks or power-pack their pants. She's also developing a series of interactive workshops to enable them to better recognize and select styles that will flatter their figures and give them curves in all the right places. And who couldn't use that?
Jaider Sanchez knows a thing or two about turning a girl into a woman -- or a man into a woman, for that matter. This drag queen/stylist is the expert that many Denver padres turn to when it's time for their daughters to celebrate their fifteenth-year quinceaera. They know that Sanchez will make their girls beautiful and prepare them for their first step into womanhood. Cha cha cha.
Harriet's
Here's the skinny on too many women's boutiques: The clothes they sell fit only willowy sylphs, teens and anorexics. But the rest of us -- and that means most of us -- want to look good without having to fit into one of those narrow, clingy, nipple-loving things that hang on countless clothing-store racks. A friend to local and small-run designers, Harriet Gibson champions garments stitched from good-looking natural fabrics in saucy colors that complement your shape. How novel.
True Love Shoes And Accessories
Sarah Lilly-Ray has raised the cheap shoe to stiletto-heel heights at her Broadway footwear emporium, where the prices rarely climb above fifty bucks a pair. And what pairs! Lilly-Ray's shelves are proficiently stocked with nearly 100 styles of inexpensive shoes, from ballet flats to knockoff wedges, made predominantly from vegan-friendly materials and oozing with personality. Walk on!

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