WHERE TO SHOP In the hope of cashing in on Poland's capitalist awakening, some of the usual suspects (Zara, H&M) have taken up residence on and around the three main shopping drags: Nowy Swiat, Chmielna, and Mokotowska. Others have opted for stylish boutiques in the Sir Norman Foster-designed Metropolitan Building (1 Plac Pilsudskiego). But it's the new generation of Polish designers, many trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz (pronounced "woodge"), who are driving a noteworthy homegrown scene. The men behind Paprocki & Brzozowski (17 Ul. Krucza; 48-50/169-5150; www.paprockibrzozowski.com) create provocative urban essentials such as sheer silk blouses and faux fur-trimmed hip-huggers. • At Pole (51-53 Ul. Mokotowska; 48-22/622-4867; www.pole.com.pl), designer Viola Spiehovichis renowned for her sexy, avant-garde suits, dresses, and jackets, favored by the nation's glitterati. • Those in search of body-consciouslines paired with eye-catchingfabrics flock to Kasia Piatek's atelier and shop, Eklkta De Lux (99 Ul. Raclawicka; 48-22/898-2828). • Run by a group of design school students and recent graduates, Polscy Projektanci (30 Ul. Chmielna; 48-22/828-9632; www.polscyprojektanci.com.pl) sells one-of-a-kind creations by Poland's rising stars, including Agnieszka Maciejak, a painter who applies her skills to create a textured, more feminine line of denim and silk clothing. • At Batycki (9 Ul. Zgoda; 48-22/828-2167; www.batycki.pl), Bozena Batycka has cornered the country's status-handbag market. Originally from Gdansk, a city famous for amber, she incorporates large pieces of the semiprecious gem in the handles of her sculpted leather purses.
ART SCENE Contemporary Polish artists are gaining an international reputation: Wilhelm Sasnal recently showed at London's Sadie Coles gallery; Monika Sosnowska was featured at the Venice Biennale. Back at home, their comrades' exhibitions are shown at the Center for Contemporary Art (Ujazdowski Castle, 6 Al. Ujazdowskie; 48-22/628-1271; www.csw.art.pl) and the Zacheta National Gallery of Art (3 Plac Malachowskiego; 48-22/827-5854; www.zacheta.art.pl). • But it's through the local gallery scene that the image of Polish art is taking shape. The curators of the Foksal Gallery Foundation (1A Ul. Gorskiego; 48-22/826-5081; www.fgf.com.pl) sponsor installations such as the Brodno 2000 project, in which artist Pawel Althamer used public housing as a canvas, convincing residents to synchronize the flicking of their light switches, creating various patterns. • Lukasz Gorczyca and Michal Kaczynski of the Raster Gallery (42 Ul. Hoza, Apt. 8; raster.art.pl), a cross between a gallery and a salon, recently moved to the top floor of an early-20th-century building that featuressofas, games, and art books. • The Twozywo Group (www.twozywo.art.pl), graphic artists who've reclaimed public space that was once used to spread party propaganda, have a permanent set of billboards on Ulica Kopernik and Ulica Koszykowa.
NIGHTLIFE While Warsaw is certainly busy by day, the city doesn't really come alive until after dark. NoBo (58A Ul. Wilcza; 48-22/622-4007), a lounge with an ambitious cocktail menu—there are 20 choices—is the preferred starting locale for fashionistas and celebrities like TV presenter Olivier Janiak and his supermodel wife, Karolina Malinowska. • Sister bars Szpulka and Szpilka (18 Plac Tzech Krzyzy; 48-22/628-9132) are stylized lofts located next to one another. • No one emerges before dawn from Warsaw's premier gay club, Utopia (1 Ul. Jasna; 48-22/827-1540). The door policy is notoriously hard to breach—so look your best or forget it. • The bed trend has even made it to Warsaw. Le Madame (10-12 Ul. Kozla) is an over-the-top fun house with feather-covered lamps, a dozen beds scattered around the industrial space, and risqué erotic images projected on the walls. • The down-home lounge Regeneracja (61 Ul. Pulawska; 48-22/845-4992) hosts weekend disco parties. • Labo Music Bar (11A Ul. Mazowiecka; 48-22/827-4557) scores points for its seventies retro-chic interiors, plus top house and techno DJ's imported from around the world.
KRISTINE ZIWICA, a former editor at T+L, is a freelance writer living in London.