Gap may have chosen to leave New Haven to concentrate in malls, but Lordz Fashion House’s opening in Sherman’s Alley last Friday showed that Chapel Street is still a top choice for high-quality fashion boutiques.

“Opening Lordz is an expression of our love for fashion and our love for New Haven,” Lordz co-owner Ayse Ikna said. “Chapel Street is well-known for merchants who know quality and appreciate good design.”

At 1:30 p.m., eight Latin Flavor Dancers — all wearing costumes by Lordz — kicked off the store’s opening with a lively salsa dance. Following the dance, Roderick Williams, the other co-owner, briefly acknowledged an audience of about 50 for their support and conducted the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Ikna.

The ceremony was followed by a colorful fashion show featuring Lordz’s own original designs, as well as designs from neighboring boutiques Seychelles, Raggs and Maxine. In the show, eye-catching models showcased some of Lordz’s spring collection, from causal outfits such as jeans and tank tops to glamorous evening dresses.

Meg Reuland ’02, a retail analyst at University Properties, introduced the owners of Lordz to the audience and praised its recent success in the fashion industry.

“[Lordz’s opening] further enhanced the high-quality boutiques on Chapel Street,” Reuland said. “Instead of taking away the business of other shops, I think [all the boutiques are] collectively bringing in more people and everyone benefits.”

A New Haven native, Williams has been involved in the fashion business for more than a decade. Having started his fashion designing career in Los Angeles 12 years ago, he finally decided to come back to New Haven to start his business because, he said, he is optimistic about the future of the city.

“New Haven is a great city,” Williams said. “I decided to come back because I think it is a good place. There is an international integration of people here and that is what makes it a unique city.”

Williams first met his co-owner at Bottega Giuliana, a contemporary fashion boutique on Chapel Street — a place William referred to as his “inspiration.” Sharing the same ambition to bring a new fashion line to the city, they opened a design studio in a Ninth Square loft in the spring of 2003. After the popular success of their 2003 winter line, Williams and Ikna decided to join the Chapel Street boutiques community.

Lordz offers an exclusive line of competitively priced, “fashion-forward” clothes for men and women. The boutique also offers clothing by some international designers in addition to its regular seasonal lines and custom pieces.

Williams said he is looking forward to presenting ideas of fashion to the people of New Haven.

“There is never enough fashion,” Williams said. “Our specialty is knowing our clients so well that we design with their personal styles in mind.”

When asked about the shop’s targeted customers, Williams said that everybody is his potential customer. And what about Yale students?

“Of course,” Williams said.

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