New York City, the battered but never beaten capital of American fashion, is getting on with business in true survivor style. Local designers such as Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren are donating time, talent and resources to the post-September 11 recovery effort, while fashion magazines and photographers do their best to sell red, white and blue for spring. International names are also doing their bit to show support for the city: at the last count, London's Matthew Williamson, Arkadius and Luella Bartley - whose spring/summer 2002 show was cancelled when New York fashion week ground to a halt after the attacks - had all promised to bring their autumn/winter collections to New York next month, as has Kansas City-born bad boy Jeremy Scott, who recently moved from Paris to Los Angeles. Retail therapy is another road to recovery (just ask Rudi Giuliani), and retailers are doing their best to seduce shoppers with irresistible reductions, festive (but never flamboyant) window displays and innovative ideas. In the vanguard is Props to Prada (right), which has just opened the first of four ambitious 'epicentre' stores at the corner of Prince Street and Broadway in SoHo. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas of company OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), the 24,500-square-foot creation took almost three years to complete and breaks new ground in retail design. At the shop's centre is an enormous, zebra-striped wooden 'wave', similar to a skateboarders' ramp, which can be converted into an amphitheatre seating 200 people for fashion shows and film screenings. Then there is a surreal system of retractable display cages that slide across the ceiling like a mobile city, glass changing rooms that frost over at the touch of a button, and discreet video panels hidden among suits on hangers (below left). It's all highly entertaining, but the biggest breakthrough (in retail terms anyway) has to be Miuccia Prada's decision to devote prime floor space to old stock from the 1980s, and par-ticularly the '90s. Remember the wall-paper prints of 1996, the mirror applique of 1999 and the original, leather-and-nylon down vests that fashion editors fought over in 1992? They're all sold alongside - and worn with - this season's collection, blurring the line between old and new, art and commerce, 'in' and 'out'... all those distinctions by which the fashion world survives. This may seem a dangerous idea from one of the world's most recognisable brands, but it is more like merchandising genius. Renamed 'vintage' (not 'past season', I was informed by a snooty sales assistant), the items are not only more expensive than they would be in Prada's Ap Lei Chau warehouse, they sell for sub-stantially higher prices than they did originally. Which is good news for tai-tais who held on to all their old clothes: like stamps and fine jewellery, old Prada appreciates in value, apparently. Here are some other addresses - from the new and underground to old favourites - you may want to clip for your next trip to town. Mayle (252 Elizabeth Street, tel: 1 212 625-0406). This tiny Nolita boutique draws big names such as Gisele Bundchen, who has made a uniform of its flirty, antique lace dresses and sexy low-riders. Jimin Lee Translation (13 White Street, tel: 1 212 219-9146). Former Joyce buyer Jimin Lee sells her own line of easy-to-wear basics featuring an Eastern twist at this lofty TriBeCa store. Prices range from US$150 (HK$1,167) for T-shirts to $700 for leather skirts. Seven (180 Orchard Street, tel: 1 646 654-0156). One of the boutiques to kick off the 'coolification' of the Lower East Side a couple of years ago (along with the liquidating fashion and lifestyle shop Zao), Seven survives with its curatorially sound selection of downtown designers such as As Four, United Bamboo and Benjamin Cho. For men and women. A Pea in the Pod (625 Madison Avenue, tel: 1 212 826-6468). A Pea in the Pod and a personal trainer are all you need to look like Catherine Zeta Jones and Jada Pinkett-Smith during pregnancy. Both are fans of this high-fashion maternity shop, which stocks stretchy, designer wear from Anna Sui, Nicole Miller and Lilly Pulitzer. Spacial Etc. (199 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, tel: 718 599-7962; www.spacialetc.com ). Located in Brooklyn's laid-back and increasingly cool Williamsburg district, Spacial Etc. sells a fine selection of home accessories, stationery and children's clothing by Brooklyn Handknits. Only Hearts (230 Mott Street, tel: 1 212 431-3694 and 386 Columbus Avenue, tel: 1 212 724-5608). Local lingerie designer Helena Stuart stocks her sweet nothings, boudoir basics and ambience-setting aromatherapy candles at these two shops. Century 21 (472 86th Street, Brooklyn, tel: 1 718 748-3266; www.c21stores.com ). New York's favourite designer discount store, which once stood opposite the World Trade Centre, can also be found in Brooklyn. You'll find everything from Tommy Hilfiger to Helmut Lang at this shop, which begins reductions at 40 per cent off. Kevin Woon and Ringo Yip (96 Orchard Street, tel: 1 917 494-5780). This discreet hair salon was founded by stylists Kevin Woon and Ringo Yip, who began his career in Sheung Shui before moving on to leading fashion magazines and New York celebrities such as Deborah Harry. Its loyal Asian clientele, unable to find a better salon back home, is willing to fly half-way around the world for the stylists' $100 cuts. By appointment only.