Overhead at Nordstrom on Saturday: Two fancy young women in the shoe department ruing the the downtown Minneapolis department store that once was. "Macy's in downtown is so bad now," one said. The other sighed in agreement. You don't hear complaints like that every day anymore--we've come to accept that Macy's has been running the crown jewel of Nicollet Mall into the ground. Our glorious former Dayton's/Marshall Field's store is but a shell of its former self--with a hopelessly average shoe department, messy and moderate apparel areas where designer brands once were displayed, and entire floors of emptiness, where there used to be furniture, books, and so much more. The store clings to its Louis Vuitton shop...and to the Oval Room, although some of the brands it used to offer moved over to Nordstrom. But I spent some time at the third-floor Oval Room last week for a spring designer fashion show, and I was pleased by the fresh assortment--Lanvin, Missoni, Marc Jacobs, Armani-- an impressive roster of top lines are there...and actually gaining momentum. Oval Room buyer Michelle Corbo is one of the last buyers standing in Minneapolis--and the only one in the entire Macy's empire buying designer. Minneapolis and Chicago are the only Macy's markets that sell luxury apparel. But rather than kill it completely, as you might expect, Corbo says she's actually been encouraged, recently, to step up the designer offerings. It shows. The mix this spring is more current, more edgy, more fun. It's worth a look.