Spring is, well sort of, in the air despite the frigid weather. It is more tangible in retail, where “Resort” collections have been in store for weeks and Spring collections are starting to arrive. Spring is a time of renewal, and it does seem as if we might be able to wonder, with hope, what the next few months will bring. An interesting change, reminding me of the act of Persephone leaving the underworld to bring new life to the Earth each year. With new stores sprouting up everywhere, and many more under construction, New York is seeing the first signs of a revival. We still have a long way to go, but at least we are starting to go — somewhere.
The very Parisian brand Balmain has opened a new New York flagship after closing their SoHo location. The space is extremely modern, designed by Paris’ Studio AMV in conjunction with Olivier Rousteing, creative director of the house. Balmain stores around the world riff on the idea of a Parisian hotel particulier, or town house. This boutique, which features a fireplace front and center in the window, is meant to feel like a New York City loft. A snazzy, many-mirrored loft with colorful spaces.
M. Rousteing loves pink for Resort. Balmain is known for its devotion to bodycon looks, and this jacket is a slightly loosened up version. Pair it with newest Balmain bag, the B-Buzz.
The space is loft-like and comfortable. The mirrored columns open the store up and reflect the product. The house was founded with optimism in 1945, right after WWII. The new store has the same sentiment.
His fans are called The Balmain Army. The heavily beaded evening dresses at the rear of the store are the brand’s signature. You know a Balmain dress when you see it.
The day clothes are impeccably bodycon, too. Jeans and tees to jackets and dresses. The signature is respected. Have a question? You will get an earful.
A reclining mannequin highlights some tall boots. The B-Bold sneakers on the right are a hybrid of sneaker and sandal. I wonder what Pierre Balmain would have thought? The customers certainly love them.
There is a smaller men’s collection on the right hand side of the store. The clothing is labor intensive and features the same love of sharp detail that the women’s collection has. These are clothes that stand out.
Balmain, 650 Madison Avenue, 9 East 59th Street
Frame has been opening up stores all over the country recently. The store offers “clienteling services” such as private appointments in store or online, styling and more. This outpost on Madison is a not a pop-up as per the window. It is here to stay, with its eclectic decor and California cool clothing.
The main display piece is a daybed conceived by architects Gisue and Mojgan Hariri made with the same materials as NYC subway grates. It is a statement piece, and it works. The brand wants to offer an experience not available in department stores.
Eric Thorstensson, one of the owners, has lensed portaits of friends and fashionistas of the brand, including Hailey Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Imaan Hammam. They are hung around the store, as well as in a small gallery-like space at one end of the boutique.
Along with Frame’s signature jeans, there are blazers, jackets, sweaters, tees, and outerwear, along with cool shoes and bags. This boutique is for women only — for now.
Frame, 900 Madison Avenue at 73rd Street
It would be hard to miss LoveShackFancy. Owner Rebecca Hessel Cohen has some definate views, and minimalism is not one of them. Like Frame, LoveShackFancy is a contemporary brand that is moving away from department stores. They are opening boutiques to serve their customers personally, while building their online presence. It seems to be working.
Ms. Hessel Cohen is a story teller who loves vintage. Her goal? To create modern vintage.
LoveShackFancy is a lifestyle brand. Along with clothing you will find towels, blankets, table linens, cushions, dolls and more. The store is styled and shoppable.
There is also a bridal collection, but many of these dresses will be worn on sunny summer days. Floral masks fill the urn at the bottom of the photo, so you can stay safe in style.
There is a good selection of clothing and accessories for girls in one corner of the boutique. It is vintage reimaged for young ladies.
LoveShackFancy loves collaborations. Currently there are ones with Morgan Lane and Stripe and Stare for lounge wear and underwear. Other collabs have featured Beach Riot, Aerin, Bandier, and Superga, among others.
Despite a plethora of choices in a single boutique, the merchandising of the store is cohesive. Ms. Hessel Cohn’s laser-like focus keeps everything fresh and in its place.
LoveShackFancy, 1058 Madison Avenue at 80th Street
Make a date on Valentine’s Day. To celebrate the big day, a group of 49 stores on Madison Avenue are offering a curated and private way to treat your loved ones (yourself included).
From now until February 20th, you can make your own private shopping appointment and have the entire store to yourself or book a VIP salon. Forget about the cold weather and get out and explore the special treatment that only Madison Avenue boutiques can offer.
Here’s a sampling of boutiques waiting to pamper you on Valentine’s Day.
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.