New York is still the place to be for the holiday season. It is also the place to find the best in shopping as brands of all stripes from around the world have just unveiled new boutiques in SoHo — four of which you should visit. And four completely different visions, each beautifully executed and each offering compelling visions and merchandise:
Maison Margiela from Italy, the American brand R13, Danish Modern Ganni, and the Canadian tongue in chic Moose Knuckles.
Maison Margiela just opened a second New York store on Crosby and Howard Street. The brand calls it an Ephemeral Concept Store, mixing works of art and works of clothing. John Galliano has been designing the line since 2014 and he continues the invisible designer approach of the founder, Martin Margiela. The space features soaring windows, and dark floors and walls.
Works of art dot the store. One piece, a mini Jumbotron, created by Tabor Robaks, hangs close to one of two clear domes. The other one is in a dressing room. Stand under the the dome and you will hear the voice of Mr. Galliano, or rather his podcast, THE MEMORY OF … With John Galliano, explaining his most recent collection. Galliano is one of the few designers who can verbally describe his work in an articulate way. The art and displays will change every few months.
The boot is an artifact and almost an object of devotion. The staff dresses in white lab coats as they have since Martin Margiela‘s day.
The seating-come-sculpture is the work of Jesse Reeves and is both functional and a work of art. The women’s and men’s collections and accessories are on display.
The Fall Artisanal Collection is the house’s couture collection and consists of limited edition pieces. Mr. Galliano’s ability to deconstruct and reconstruct a garment is backed up with thought and talent.
A vivid coat from the Artisanal Collection explodes with color. It is a singular collection.
The men’s and women’s collection are regularly moved around the store, and there are many pieces not on display. The staff is happy to bring them to you. Just ask for what you want.
The Tabi has been around for 26 years, and has never been copied. Margiela makes Tabi boots, shoes sneakers and offers new versions of the iconic toed piece every season. It was inspired by 15th century Japanese Tabi sock. The bags are from the quilted Glam Slam collection.
The genderless perfumes and eau de toilettes are created to evoke memories and perceptions. Try By the Fireplace or Lazy Sunday Morning. Or perhaps Mutiny, Flying, Jazz Club, or Whispers in the Library? Each bottle comes with an explanation of the designer’s thought process as the scent evolved.
The store is full of shoes and bags for women, and shoes and accessories for men.
The artists are chosen by John Galliano and are connected to his inspiration for each season’s collection. I am looking forward to seeing the next installation and artists. The boutique is a perfect mix of art and fashion.
Maison Margiela, 1 Crosby Street, Soho
Walk down Howard Street and you will see a discreet storefront with a glowing screen inside. Step into R13 and explore a world of grungy yet refined clothing. Huge video screens divide the minimal space playing both the runway shows and clips of ’80s and ’90s musicians at play. Men’s pieces are displayed on the left hand side of the shop.
The brand has a distinctive look. Chris Leba, the founder and designer, spent 19 years working at Ralph Lauren. Since 2009, he has been refining his carefully and thoughtfully destroyed clothing.
Five dividers are spaced along the depth of the store. The fronts and sides are video screens with looped images. The walls are stripped down and original.
The back of the units contain the clothing that is for sale. Some hold men’s clothing and some women’s.
Jeans are an R13 signature. Mr. Leba started by doing distressed jeans and other garments in the same vein followed. The clothing is all made in Italy. Carefully distressed clothing is an act of artful irony and not inexpensive to produce.
A partially unfinished jacket is about as dressy as the collection gets. Grunge plaids and animal spots are signatures.
There are also some tartans thrown in and fabrics mixed together like floral prints and plaids, or mini-checks and leopard prints.
Sweaters come with purposely done laddering, and raw edge bottoms. You probably could distress your clothes yourself, but why bother when R13 does it perfectly for you. Add some chunky winter boots and your look is complete.
One pea coat is decked out with several pounds of 1950’s rhinestone pieces along with punk safety pins. And a ruffled cream prairie dress is topped with a vest with a gold lace collar. Downtown statement dressing for sure.
R13 Denim, 34 Howard Street, Soho
Ganni just opened a store nearby that is a different kind of design statement. The Danish brand was founded in 2000 by the husband wife team Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup. Their contemporary brand has been growing rapidly. The store and the clothing and accessories ooze Scandi Chic.
The store is clean and colorful, like the clothing. Ganni mixes related prints and solids in their garments. The fixtures in the store are moveable and the open space has different colored panels placed around and in front of the open glass windows.
This is Nordic that is not traditionally minimal. The clothing has clean lines, with a feminine touch.
The elegant spaces are carved out with color. It is interesting to see how the pieces of clothing play against the sorbet colored walls. Nothing is crowded here.
Clothing is grouped by color and playful globe lights fill the ceiling. This is carefully designed daytime sportswear.
The effect is simple, clean and unpretentious. Sort of like the clothes.
Ganni is now doing shoes, boots, handbags and sunglasses.
This is truly a lifestyle brand. A Danish lifestyle. Hygge is a Danish word that suggests a mood of coziness, giving the wearer feelings of happiness and wellness. Ganni is the unfuzzy version of this.
Ganni, 40 Mercer Street, Soho.
You may not have heard of Moose Knuckles, the newest contender in the pricey puffer wars. It’s a Canadian company with a sense of humor. Offering impeccably made outerwear since 2009, it just opened. Video screens are used for display here too, although at Moose Knuckles they feature live stream of the Northern Lights.
The store has parkas, puffers, tees, sweats and accessories for men and women.
The logo is distinctive. See it above on a hat. It is metal. If you want the luxury version, you can get it plated in 24-carat gold.
The brand uses real ethically certified furs and faux furs and claims that their parkas and jackets are the warmest on the market. They certainly feel that way.
Women’s clothing is to the back of the store.
The metal display is called Moose Goldberg, and it can deliver jackets a la Rube Goldberg.
The men’s area features floating mannequins, and more video screens.
The miniature train set features a Tim Horton model restaurant and hockey sticks, both extremely Canadian references. Being Canadian they understand cold. Believe them. As they say: “We are as warm AF.” Warmth and humor. It’s a good combination.
Moose Knuckles, 57 Greene Street, Soho.
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn