Brands On The Run – New York Social Diary

Fall collections are being delivered to stores everywhere. New concepts in retailing are unfolding and old favorites returning. There seems to be a geographical shift in where New Yorkers, and hopefully tourists, are shopping. I don’t know when you last strolled down Fifth Avenue in the 50s, but much has changed. Valentino closed their store, as did Versace. Both relocated to Soho. Other brands, including Tory Burch, have also closed their Madison Avenue stores and have instead opened reinvented flagships that offer new and engaging ways to shop.
New York Fashion Week, with the return of in-person runway shows, is in the rear view mirror; and the London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks promise even more visual goodies. Buyers polled at NYFW are reporting that business is surging. Their customers are looking ahead and buying “newness,” in both everyday and occasion dressing. Happily sweats, which were never part of my pandemic wardrobe, have been relegated to their proper place.
Versace recently opened a stunning new store on Greene Street. Designed by Gwenael Nicolas, who did the new Versace Paris flagship, the space features a Greca patterned floor and signature Medusas sprinkled around. All very on-brand. The front of the boutique is devoted to handbags and many accessories. Versace was sold to Capri Holdings, owner of Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, in 2018, and Capri wants to grow the business. Donatella is, as ever, in charge of all things design.
The boutique consists of a series of spaces. The middle room contains women’s clothing on the left hand side of the store. The selection is tightly curated. As with many other designer boutiques, much of the stock is not kept on the floor. Shoppers ask for what they want to see, and pieces are brought out from the stock room.  This declutters the space, and lets the architect’s work shine. Today the clothing on display skews more to daytime looks. Fear not, the sizzling hot evening pieces are available, too.
The men’s clothing sits on the right hand side of the room. It is graphic, bright and relaxed.
The back room is a focal point of the boutique with its huge screen of ever-changing images; and mannequins. The clothing and the images stand out in the minimal chic space. Everything is here for both men and women, from bathing suits to jewelry.
The back room with the visuals also contains the shoe collections. The women’s shoes include everything from sneakers to safety-pin stilettos.
The men’s sneakers also feature the graphic Greca Medusa Smiley. Medusa softened up.
Sunglasses to backpacks … find your accessories.
Most of these bags have the signature Medusa closures. Customers were in and out, browsing and buying.
Versace, 111 Greene Street
Tory Burch has just opened a new flagship, located where the storied MercBar used to be. The one-story bar was torn down and replaced  by a five-story building. When it was finished and vacant, it looked rather like a private house. Interestingly, it was also designed by Gwenael Nicolas who did the Versace store. The two spaces could not be more different. The Burch store mixes old and new, and feels much more organic. The Madison Avenue boutique has been shuttered, but the new store is also a homecoming of sorts as the original Tory Burch flagship was birthed just a few blocks away in Nolita.
The space is divided into basically two areas per floor. Of course the ground floor houses a big collection of handbags, the source of much income for many designers. The shelves for all the bags are framed in wicker-work, and conceptual baskets are suspended from the ceiling. A lovely Miranda Brooks-designed garden sits calmly at the back of the boutique.
The Home Collection is located on the second floor. The wicker and brass fixtures are slightly different, but keep the neutral homey feeling going. And there are baskets here as well. Some items from the designer’s personal collections are placed around the store.
Quilts are a favorite this season, with many vintage quilts decorating the space. Home life plays an important role.
Tory Burch grew to fame and fortune with her ubiquitous cleverly logoed flats. The shoe collection has grown over the years, and is housed in a circular room within a room on the second floor. An arm of a special chandelier by artist Francesca DiMattio is at the upper left.
Shoppers are encouraged to use the stairs. The artist who designed the chandelier also did all the handrails on the sleek stairwells. The stairs take up a pretty big chunk of the store, and are decorated with looks from the collection. Another homey touch.
Ready to wear is found on the third floor. The dress from the previous photo is at the left. The chintz sofas and stools add an old school touch.
Ah, the comforts of being home again.
Tory Burch, 151 Mercer Street
Allure, the print and online magazine dedicated to beauty, has done something very novel. They have opened a boutique in Soho that sells the products discovered and loved by the editors of the magazine.
The products change every quarter or so and the prices go from extremely affordable to expensive, which is a great idea. The store connects to their commercial website with tablets all over the place. Along with offering a huge range of products, Allure also sponsors events with the brands that are showcased.  All in all an interesting new concept. Especially if it can keep the print magazine alive.
The tools of the trade are also on display and for sale. The staff is informative and there to help you.
Allure the store, is a fun and immersive way to shop and to learn about new product offerings.
Allure, 191 Lafayette Street
John Elliot, a Los Angeles based luxury streetwear designer, took over the defunct G-Star Raw space on Lafayette Street. Instead of stuffing it full of clothing, a clean open grid was installed to let the sun shine in. Bathing suits to coats, jeans and jackets, you will find functional, modern clothing.
All of the clothing is made from premium fabrics and trimmings sourced from manufacturers around the globe, giving the designs an interesting twist.
At one side of the boutique is a clean open space for sneakers, boots and shoes. A collaboration with Converse is on the horizon. Socks are also part of the mix.
Upstairs above the shoe area is a collaboration with the publisher Taschen with a nicely curated selection of books chosen by Mr. Elliot himself. Books on photography, architecture, art, and other lifestyle subjects are for sale.
Open space is a novel retail concept in New York; and a visual luxury. Although the proportions of this space are unusual, the store design compliments the functional clothing.
John Elliot, 270 Lafayette Street
While walking in Nolita last weekend, I was happily surprised that The Meadow, one of my favorite “particular” stores, had reopened across town. The Meadow is one of those places that has a large selection of a narrow slice of items; everything from chocolate to bitters, salt, flowers and more. I had run out of bitters during the pandemic (I love adding bitters to sparkling water) and I had patronized their previous Hudson Street shop, only to find it closed for good. Or so it seemed.
Aside from bitters, salt is a focus. They carry a selection of salts from around the world as well as Himalayan salt blocks (on the left). These beautiful slabs and cups, which can be used to cook and cure food (or as serving dishes), take up an entire wall. There are books on salt block cooking for sale, too. Want to try a salt pressed Cubano sandwich? The recipe, along with many more, is posted on their website.
Along with bitters, The Meadow stocks organic syrups to mix into water and cocktails. The owner is extremely helpful and full of ideas on how to create interesting cocktails and drinks.
At the back is a new pantry section. Good balsamic vinegars, spices, tomato sauces, pasta and more are for sale. This store seems to be about half the size of the previous one, but it is packed with goodies.
The wall of chocolate on the left offers a plenitude of chocolate bars and drinking chocolate from around the world. This is a must-visit stop to shop. I am pleased as punch that this Portland-based gourmet retailer is back.
The Meadow, 240 Mulberry Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.


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