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Monica Nassif may not be a household name, but she has already created two of them and is working on a third. The founder of Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day elevated washing dishes and cleaning countertops into a luxury experience. Now she's hoping to do the same thing with Sophia Graydon, a new line of sleepwear and loungewear.
The goal was to merge European fabrics such as cotton, silk and lace with sophisticated design. Available online (www.sophiagraydon.com), the line retails from $175 to $3,950. Here's what she says about the launch.
Q Why sleepwear?
A I didn't set out to create a loungewear line after I left Caldrea. For the first time in my life, I had a lot of time. A friend casually joked that I would be spending my idle hours lounging around and reading. Well, I tried that for two weeks and was bored out of my mind. Yet I did try to find a great pair of pajamas during the process and came up empty-handed. I scoured the web, stores and catalogs to find a perfect something to wear. I had a hard time finding lounging apparel in gorgeous fabrics that were beautifully made and had a certain amount of style. As with Caldrea, I thought I cannot be the only person who is frustrated by the lack of options.
Q You said in a Star Tribune article in 2002, "People are back to cocooning and spending on their homes." Is that the case now, too?
A During my Caldrea days, we spent a great deal of time in Europe and always found amazing lounging garments that were impossible to find in the U.S. In addition, it seems to me that the Europeans invest in their loungewear as they do with their day wear. I also believe that the same consumer who invests in her home for premium cleaning products, home linens, cooking equipment, is our same consumer. She embraces the experience of taking care of and enjoying her home -- her surroundings and her lounging garments.
Q Which is your favorite?
A Always a tough question -- like asking me to name my favorite child. I would have to say I love the black cotton pajamas shirt and pant as well as the floral silk caftan.
Q Where did the name come from?
A As I did with Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, I used family names. I attempted to do the same with Sophia Graydon and came up short -- everything that we liked, the URL was taken. So I opened the Nassif family file and found two names from a family in Lebanon. I thought the name sounded sophisticated and beautiful -- and the URL and trademark was available. So we landed on Sophia Graydon.
Q As a cleaning expert, how do you care for the sleepwear?
A For our Sophia cottons, you can machine wash on cool, line dry and press (or not). You may also dry clean them as you would a fine dress shirt. For the remaining items -- which are silk and cashmere -- we recommend dry cleaning. We know that a lot of consumers hand-wash their silk garments (we learned this at Caldrea), so we offer these care instructions as well.
Q What's next?
A We need to focus all of our energies on building Sophia Graydon. Perhaps take a nap.
Get your party shoes ready, Vogue magazine's annual Fashion's Night Out (FNO, www.fashionsnightout.com) is Thursday. A pet project of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, the annual nationwide event hopes to motivate customers to get excited about shopping and into stores to spend. If you want to party as you purchase, here are some options:
Intelligent Nutrients: Enjoy complimentary style consultations with mini-treatments and explore new products such as PureLuxe Shampoo and Conditioner and Styling Pomade. The first 20 RSVPs will receive complimentary blowouts (events@intelligentnutrients .com). Also, enter to win gift baskets and shop FNO specials.
4 to 8 p.m., Horst & Friends Salon, 983 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
Corset: Stylist Grant Whitaker and owner Jodi Mayers will present a mini-fashion show. You can feast on Gastrotruck treats and shop with local jewelry designer Jen Scheffler or Realia. While you're there, register to win a VIP gift bag.
6 to 9 p.m., 5400 France Av. S., Edina, 952-224-2495.
Galleria: The shopping center will be offering complimentary appetizers and informal modeling throughout the evening. Many stores will host special events, including a trunk show with jewelry designer Nancy Golden at StyledLife; $10 certificates with any purchase at Allure Intimates, five trunk shows at Arafina and designer Carla Cohen of Via Patina at Scheherazade.
6 to 9 p.m., Galleria, Edina, www.galleriaedina.com.
Neiman Marcus: Meet local designers Emma Berg, Amanda Christine, Danielle Everine, George Moskal and Christopher Straub.
Michael Kors: Look for exclusive FNO products, including aviators with flash lenses.
Mall of America, Bloomington, 952-814-1900.
Rosedale: Bring in a slightly used handbag and receive a swag bag in return. Donations will go to Dress for Success.
PICK OF THE WEEKNicole Richie for Impulse
Macy's Southdale and downtown Minneapolis and www.macys.com
Whenever you think of bohemian-chic, Nicole Richie comes to mind. The "Fashion Star" judge and House of Harlow designer is bringing her free-spirited point of view to a capsule collection at Macy's. Launching on Wednesday, look for a fall collection of relaxed maxi skirts, cropped tops and fitted jackets ($49 to $149) at 12 at Macy's Downtown Minneapolis and Southdale.
SALES AND EVENTS
Shop, Save, Share kick-off: Every year the Junior League of Minneapolis offers a holiday shopping card. For $30, you'll get 20 percent off full-priced merchandise at participating businesses between Oct. 26 and Nov. 4. Be one of the first to pick one up at a launch party with food, wine and personal styling consultations with Jessica Bergstren of 1200 Miles to Barneys. Bring your favorite pieces from your summer wardrobe and get advice on how to transition it for fall.
Il Vostro boutique, 5045 France Av. S., Mpls., 612-920-3167.
Trunk shows and a personal appearance at Max's: Meet jewelry designer Stephanie Albertson, whose work features oxidized silver, 22-karat gold and colorful gemstones. Max's will also be hosting a show highlighting one-of-a-kind pieces from more than a dozen of its artists.
Stephanie Albertson, through Sunday, and one-of-a-kind show, through Sept. 16, 3826 Grand Way, St. Louis Park, 952-922-8364.