The Northwest corner of Madison Avenue has been under wraps for the last 8 months. The Carolina Herrera boutique had temporarily relocated to 70th Street, but moved back into its new beautifully renovated home last week. Lafayette 148, a longtime downtown brand, opened a stunning shop next store the same day. Just in time for Fashion Week.
I love the fact that both stores, with completely different looks, have raised the shopping experience in New York to new levels. The stores showcase the clothing, and the clothing complements the store design. Me, I could move into either one and be perfectly happy. I guess that’s the point.
Mrs. Herrera’s boutique has been renovated to resemble a private home. A set of doors provide an entrance from 75th Street. The enlarged windows and graceful canopies were added. The 1925 building has been given a complete overhaul by the Brazilian architect and designer, Andre Mellone.
The boutique is spare, but warm. Furnished in an appealing melange of periods by Chiara de Rege, each floor has its own vibe. The ground floor is spacious, with the clothing and accessories shown along the wall. No T stands here, please. And if it does feel like a living room, so did the original Herrera store.
The grand spiral staircase that Mrs. Herrera commissioned for the original boutique remains. The large windows let the light stream in; all the better to set off the clothing.
The selection of clothing is deliberate. The rails are not overcrowded; you can see each piece as they hang. The clothes are flattering and yet have sex appeal. They are happy clothes, tucked away in architectural spaces.
Carolina Herrera, the company, has a new creative director, Wes Gordon, who came on board last year. He has taken the Herrera code and tweaked it.
Everything in the space is beautiful, and works in harmony — from the stone floor to the wonderful walls. Just as Herrera clothes flatter the wearer, the store does as well. The walls are a faint shade of an almost pink. The color flatters anyone that walks into the store. Abundant daylight doesn’t hurt.
The accessories too are in harmonious shades. Makes you wonder why you always wear black shoes.
Color is the message for the clothing as well.
The second floor has wooden floors, and an elegant 1940’s inspired rug.
The back wall shows the Carolina Herrera Perfumes off in delicate arched niches.
Good Girl perfume comes in a bottle in the shape of a stiletto, while the newest fragrance, Bad Boy, for men, is lightening in a bottle. Bad Boy was introduced earlier this year.
The clothing hangs from custom designed fixtures that echo the furniture and decor.
Shoes, bags, sunglasses, belts and other accessories are on display.
Bags and shoes sit on a slightly curved console, made to stand neatly around the staircase.
All the clothing displays mix daytime and evening ensembles all over the store. This is a fresh way to approach merchandising, and makes the store feel like a very elegant dressing room.
The dressing rooms themselves really make you look fabulous. I have never understood why so many stores have such unattractive, small, badly lit dressing rooms. That is not the case in the Herrera store. The lighting, soft colors and elegant furniture make you look your best.
Walk up to the third floor and you will find the Bridal Collection, with traditional as well as very modern looks. A long hall lined with gowns leads you to a spacious room.
Book an appointment, and you will have a private bridal experience.
The room is a soft flattering pink, as is much of the furniture in it.
The look of the store was adapted for new boutiques at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Some of the merchandise is the same as in the boutique, but not all.
Coming back down from the Bridal Salon, you can descend the sculptural staircase.
As you leave the store, the simple and discrete window display leaves you smiling.
Carolina Herrera, 954 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, 212-249-6552
True to its downtown roots, the new Lafayette 148 boutique has a wide open space that is reminiscent of Soho. Lafayette 148 was named after its original headquarters downtown at — you guessed it — 148 Lafayette Street. Named The Townhouse, the new space has an interior that is loft-like and minimal. And the clothes follow suit.
The clothes this season are in very neutral colors. The fabrics are soft and the accessories clean.
There are walls of grey clothing, as well as camels and beiges. Accessories are neatly placed.
Here too, the decor and the clothing have the same voice.
Nothing in the store is crowded or overcrowded. It’s a pleasure to shop here.
Garments are shown in leather, silk and wool for fall. Sweaters come in wool and cashmere.
Head upstairs to what the salespeople call The Loft. You can book personal styling appointments.
A wide and airy space overlooks Madison Avenue.
Lafayette 148 designed a special capsule collection exclusive to the new store. The company does a limited made to measure and offers over 50 sizes.
Jewelry, scarves, belts, boots and shoes that complement the clothing are displayed around the shop.
The Lafayette 148 offers another unique shopping experience. Walk in and you will feel right at home.
Lafayette 148, 956 Madison Avenue, 914-600-8776
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn