Madison’s Miracle Renaissance

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=Here we are in September and New Yorkers near and far are slowly returning to the city. The streets are full up with cars and taxis, delivery trucks, bikes, and scooters. And I’m happy to report that a number of new stores have opened on Madison Avenue — waiting to be discovered. There is nothing like seeing and feeling and touching the merchandise; and fashion becomes more tangible when you can actually walk into a store to shop. Sweats and PJs were never part of my lockdown life. The great Karl Lagerfeld said it best: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat.”

Designers have been working around the pandemic clock, doing fittings on Zoom calls; generally making the best of a bad situation. Most of these stores were meant to open in March and April, or had just opened when they were shut down. Now they are finally open for business and filled with fresh merchandise.  It was a pleasure to visit these beautifully-designed new shops (each with a distinct point of view) and see what delights they  conjured up while we were not able to get out and shop.

The second iteration of Welcome Back Saturdays on Madison takes place this weekend, and the last WBS is next weekend. Everyone is offering special treats and experiences, so why not take a stroll on New York’s premier shopping street, and see what’s new.

Bright fall clothing in the new Altuzarra boutique.

Altuzarra is an American luxury brand designed by Joseph Altuzarra. The brand moved from a pop-up to a brand new sleek Madison Avenue boutique right before everything shut down. The store has a large assortment of clothing and accessories with a cross cultural feel. With a Chinese-American mother and a French father, his home life and education allowed Joseph Altuzarra to create a unique take on fashion. The Fall and Pre-Fall collections are in store now, waiting to be discovered.

Suitings and dresses for Fall.

The clothing is both sophisticated and relaxed. The family owned luxury brand offers easy to wear pieces that go from day to night. Joseph’s mother is involved in the business and is also a featured model on his website this season. The collection mixes beautiful tailored pieces along with softer pieces.

A colorful display of bags.

The design of the boutique, with its bold colors accents, was a collaboration with the decorator Giancarlo Valle whereas the clothing and accessories really stand out. The collection debuted in 2008, and the offerings are growing every season.

Clear totes accent fall clothing.

There are many bags to choose from. The large hobos in the previous picture are sportif and chic, while the clear totes above are pure fun.

Relax while you shop.

There are more clothes upstairs. The vibe is relaxed and modern. The custom sofa is a focal point of the space. It seems made for just hanging out and enjoying the light-filled space. Clothing is precisely placed around the spacious boutique.  Some of the pillows made from Collection fabric are for sale, too. The staff is available for personal styling and, of course, general pampering.

Pre-Fall looks to wear now.

These relaxed looks are all shown with jackets so that you can wear the soft pieces alone or pull the look together with more structured pieces. The designer and his team managed to pull all this together during the pandemic. Not an easy feat since most of the fabrics are European, and the garments are produced in many different locations.

Relaxed looks for NOW.

During the lockdown, Joseph realized that his customers were looking for something very comfortable yet sophisticated. Luxury leisure wear was made from collection fabric. It has been selling well. There will be a small gift with purchase for the Welcome Back Saturdays event, and a full Fall collection to view. Stop in and have a look.

Altuzurra850 Madison Avenue at 70th Street

A grand staircase in the entrance to the store.

A new FIVESTORY is now open on Madison Avenue. The Distenfield family sold the business to Karen Murray last year. The boutique is located in the former Lily Pulitzer space on Madison, and was supposed to open in April. The lockdown gave the team time to make the experience perfect. Clothing and accessories are found all over the ground floor.

The boutique is like a house.

Shopping here is like shopping in an elegant townhouse, close to the original FIVESTORY concept. Labels that were in the original store are here, but there are many brands new to the store, from Peter Do to Etro. The foyer has displays of bags and sunglasses; shoes are around the corner.

Discrete clothing lines the walls.

The back of the ground floor has a grand fireplace, and is furnished like a living room. The soaring ceilings have a grand feel. Clothing, bags and shoes are arranged around the space. FIVESTORY also offers private styling appointments.

New Fall collections are downstairs.

Clothing is grouped together by designer. There are contemporary and luxury designer collections mixed together in one space. What is important is the final look. Mixing it up is encouraged.

At the top of the staircase is home decor.

At the top of the staircase is another foyer. This one is filled with quirky home decor that contrasts with the classic gold framed paintings and a vintage chandelier. It all works.

The airy front salon.

The front salon features one-of-a-kind pieces from Rianna + Nina. The designers are Greek and German vintage lovers who find deadstock period scarves and fashion them into showstoppers. The rest of the room is filled with jewelry collections and more pieces for the home.

Select vintage is upstairs.

At the back of the second floor is a room filled with preloved vintage fashion. Sustainable and stylish; and special. You will find vintage bags and accessories, along with a staircase lined with gently worn designer shoes. The new FIVESTORY is an update of the original for this time.

FIVESTORY, 1020 Madison Avenue at 79th Street

Women's Clothing and Shoes.
Women’s clothing and shoes at Jenni Kayne.

If you love clean, relaxed yet sophisticated casual sportwear, the new Jenni Kayne boutique is for you. The California lifestyle brand already has a store in Tribeca, and has decided to expand. The clothing is minimal, with wardrobe staples in muted colors. It is for an easy living lifestyle. After all, “Elegance is elimination,” according to Balenciaga.

Warm Neutral Colors Glow in this store
Warm neutral colors glow.

Along with sweaters, pants and jeans, dresses and blouses and tops, there is also a small selection of men’s wear done in the same fabrics and colors as the women’s wear. The store has a clean and cool yet welcoming design focusing on natural finishes.

Take Home The Clothing or The Furniture on Madison
Take home the clothing or the furniture.

There are classics for the home, too. Pillows and throws are scattered around the store. As are pieces of furniture. Chairs, tables, shearling and other pieces are scattered around the store. You can even order the rugs.

The Perfect Basic for sale on Madison
The perfect basic.

Shoes, sneakers and bags are offered in different shapes and colors. The soft suede colors for fall are delicious.

Selection of Home Goods at Jenni Kayne
A small selection of home goods.

The brand also offers a large range of cutlery, glasses, vases, napkin rings, bowls and containers and table linens. Jenni’s book on entertaining, Pacific Natural, with a foreward by Martha Stewart, is also for sale in the store. The tables and benches can also be ordered.

Candles and Apothecary For Sale on Madison
Candles and apothecary for sale.

Products of the home and beauty products are in one corner of the store. Organic body wash and hand soap shares a shelf with cleaning products from The Laundress. There are candles, diffusers, roll-ons and room sprays, along side towels and washcloths. Everything you need for the home.

The Children's Collection at Jenni Kayne
Part of the children’s collection.

There is currently a small children’s collection available, with more pieces on the way. Adorable stuffed animals, and accessories are in store now, with more to come.  Jenni Kayne is offering a 20% discount, complimentary champagne and hand embroidery on items with purchase by Rachel Hearn Art on both days of Welcome Back Saturdays. Make this California lifestyle yours.

Jenni Kayne, 1082 Madison Avenue between 81st Street and 82nd Street

Accessories Can Make the Look.
Accessories can make the look.

The Armoury Westbury is the newest boutique from the multi-cultural group. Founded by two Hong Kongers ten years ago, with two stores in Central, this is the second New York store. The first is in Tribeca. The store features many accessories along with its own Armoury suits. The scarves come from Drake’s of London and Rumisu, designed by two Turkish sisters. The suitcases are from FPM Milano.

Swatch books offer a wealth of choice.

The Armoury specializes in custom clothing. You can buy everything off the rack,  but suits and shirts  can be Made-To-Order, tweaking linings, buttons or fabrics. They can also be Made-To-Measure, fit adjustments made to preexisting patterns, or Bespoke, where everything is made just for you. There is a wide range of fabrics available from England and Italy, including Holland and Sherry, Fox Brothers and Loro Piana. The fabrics come from England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and Japan.

Suits and jackets made for you.

The Armoury suits are made to their specifications by different makers. These include the Japanese company Ring Jacket, Orazio Luciano from Naples, and the Hundred series from Northern Italy.

Some of the more formal looks.

There are many different silhouettes available. Sports jackets and casual pants are also on offer, as are shirts by makers including Drake’s and Ascot Chang from Hong Kong.

Luxurious silk ties.

Ties come form sources around the world, too. They can be custom made in 3, 5, or 7-fold construction, with monograms and custom embroidery. They are also available in stock from the same makers.

Coats and more bags.

These coats are from a Japanese brand called Coherence. They have a sharp design. There are many bags for sale from Frank Clegg of Massachusetts and Ettinger from England.

A selection of knitwear.

You will find a good selection of knitwear from a German brand called Heimat, and if you look at the back wall you can see that there are many more shoes available. The Armoury shoe hails from North Hampton, England. There are shoes from a premium American maker, Alden, a French maker of casual shoes, Jacques Soloviere, as well as shoes from Yohei Fukuda, a Japanese brand. You really can choose from brands from around the world when you shop at The Armoury Westbury.

The Armoury Westbury, 840 Madison Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets

Looking into the well-designed store of Cuyana.

Cuyana is another California brand that has opened a second store in New York on Madison Avenue. The first store is located on Prince Street in Nolita. The light-filled space has an intriguing design, with lots of windows and a sculptural display case for the bags. Their motto is “Fewer, Better.”

Clothing in the windows.

The brand was first known for its bags. Soft clothing in natural fibers were added in a few years ago, and a small jewelry collection has just been incorporated. All the products reflect the owner’s belief in the importance of the art of design, quality and sustainability.

The tall windows are a design feature.

There is a core  collection of basic pieces, and then there are classics with a twist. Most of the factories that the clothing is made in are small factories and are family owned. The company audits the suppliers and they must adhere to Cuyana standards. The silks, pima cottons, cashmere and other fibers are used in small productions runs so that there is never a lot of inventory left at the end of a season.

Some of the many bags.

Cuyana started making bags in 2010. Their goal is to make beautiful products that last. There are bags of every shape and size in interesting colors. The bags are crafted rather than mass produced. And they prove that timeless pieces that stand the test of time are not boring. Far from it.

Madison Ave Bags
Clutches on the shelves.

Cyuana bags are made from supple leathers from Italy, Turkey and Argentina, and are manufactured with care, and with sustainability in mind. They also offer a clean and repair service. Bring your bag to the store, and the team will clean and recondition the leather. Bags come with a two-year warranty, and should anything happen to your bag you can take it in for repairs — free of charge.

Madison Avenue shopping
Customize your bag.

Bags can also be personalized with stamping using the machine above.

Looking into a Madison Ave store.
A warm welcome.

All the product are timeless, functional and well made. The bags and clothing are available in their stores and online only. Why not stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood?

Cuyana, 1055 Madison Avenue at 80th Street

Madison Avenue market
A neighborhood hangout.

After you finish shopping, you might want to visit another welcome newcomer to the neighborhood. While Butterfield Market has been an old standby on Lexington Avenue for ages, the owners decided to take over the old Dean and DeLuca space, opening as a welcome work in progress. The Express Window is always busy. Their frozen yogurt is extremely popular, and you will no doubt see many customers sitting in front of the store while they enjoy the treat. Soups, sandwiches, salads and beverages are also for sale.

Chocolate for sale on Madison
A wonderful selection of chocolate.

Butterfield Market has been in business since 1915, and is being run now by the third generation of the family who own the market. The opening was sensitive to the pandemic. At this moment, the space, which is three times the size of the Lexington location, is pretty wide open with discrete areas for lots of specialty foods. The owners are working hard to fill the market with the best food New York has to offer. The popular chocolate is provided by Chocolate Moderne, who produces it on West 20th Street.

Food to go At Butterflied.
Some of the food to go.

There is lots of food to go. In addition to the usual sandwiches and salads, there are also counters for sushi and pizza. A salad bar is under construction, and counters for meat and seafood, carefully sourced, are coming soon. Groceries are placed around the edges of the store now.

Fruits and Vegetables in Butterfield market.
Fruits and vegetables.

There is a nice selection of fruits and vegetables. And as the virus retreats, more tables and cases will be added to fill the wide open space. The selection is good now, so it will get even better. Stop in and shop or call in an order and it will be delivered to your home.

Luxury Takeaway on Madison
Luxury takeaway made easy.

Prepared food is a big draw. And there is a huge selection available. Butterfield has daily dinner specials that can be ordered, or you can pick out your own. Catering is one of their specialties, as are gift baskets.

Many Treats for Sale
Many treats, Including caviar.

There is a full selection of appetizing offerings next to the coffee bar. Luxury items like caviar and truffles are available. Their bagels are hand made in Brooklyn by The Bagel Hole, one of the few old fashioned bagel makers left in the city.

Beautiful Bespoke Bread on Madison
Beautiful bespoke bread.

Another one of their partner suppliers is Bien Cuit, an artisanal Brooklyn bakery that makes absolutely delicious breads. Cookies, muffins and other sweets are also specialties. Butterfield Market is also participating in the Welcome Back Saturdays on October 3rd. Be sure to stop in and get your treats.

Butterfield Market, 1150 Madison Avenue at 85th Street

Welcome Back Saturdays on Madison Avenue: 9/12, 9/26, 10/3

Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn

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