With 2020 in the rear view mirror and everyone looking forward to a better and healthier future, there will be many changes in the new normal. But in the world of fashion, the only thing that ever stays the same is that everything is always changing. 2021 will be a year of change. I had not been to the Meatpacking District, a/k/a MePa, since September. MePa has been evolving since its transition from a working maritime and food distribution neighborhood into the present.
In the ’80s, Florent, the oh-so-hip restaurant on Gansevoort Street, was a celebrity magnet with wild transvestite-timed Bastille Days. Shuttered in 2008 because of outrageous rent increases, it now has its own Wikipedia page. There were still some meatpacking businesses, and there were the infamous underground and semi-underground sex clubs that joined the ones that opened in the ’70s and were shuttered by the city in the ’80s. You never knew what household name you might spot.
In the late ’90s high end designer stores like Jeffrey, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney moved in, only to move on. Jeffrey only closed in 2020. Mega clubs and many restaurants kept the area vibrant at night — Tenjune and the old Pastis among them. The High Line opened in 2009, and the Whitney in 2015. More stores came, among them Restoration Hardware, or RH, in the old Pastis location, pictured in the main photo. RH rebuilt from scratch, having to please preservationists with a new, more modern design. Hermes opened a store a few years ago, and I wondered what would come next. A lot — it turns out.
The newest addition is Loro Piana. The tiny, triangular light filled store has a tightly edited offering of luxurious men’s and women’s pieces. Some women’s clothing, shoes and accessories are by the checkout.
A narrow corridor is filled with the rest of the woman’s collection. All the looks are elegant and casual.
The space was designed by Vincent Van Duysen, and features a display atrium at the center of the triangle. It will be interesting to see how this evolves. At the right is an explanation of the current show.
The men’s area is luxe and elegant. Cashmere, knit and woven, shearling, and leather fill the space.
Men’s shoes are all super casual and super cool. Hats add a sporty touch — a luxe sporty touch, that is.
The window displays three sculptures from Companion Species: Blanket Stories, Generations and Acknowledgment, by the American artist Marie Watt. Working with pre-loved textiles, she transforms them into many things. Blankets were one of the first products that Loro Piana produced, and Watt’s take on blankets symbolize safeguarding, traditions, family heirlooms. All is explained inside.
The boutique is selling blankets that can be customized through January 31st. Personalize it with one of the patches created and stitched by the artist. A very cozy way to start the new year. Pretty chic, too.
Loro Piana, 3 Ninth Avenue at Gansevoort Street
Across the street, next to Hermes, is the Brunello Cucinelli boutique. Bright and open, sunlight shines down through a skylight over the door. A selection for women lines the right hand side of the boutique.
The boutique is decorated in elegant neutrals, rather like the clothing. The building’s industrial bones were left intact and updated with taste. The modern furnishings make the store feel like someone’s loft.
Men’s clothing lines the other side of the building. “Classico con twist” is the key to dressing in calming colors that are a Cucinelli signature. Understated luxury for sure.
The back wall displays clothing children’s clothing and accessories. There is also a bar and an espresso bar tucked away in a stylish corner. An elevator to the right takes you to the second level.
There is more womenswear upstairs. Brunello Cucinelli offers a wide range of clothing, shoes, bags and other accessories. It’s a beautifully curated place to shop.
Next to the sitting area are stairs leading to a small terrace overlooking Gansevoort Street. When the weather warms up, the space will be open. Around a corner, hidden nooks offer more Cucinelli goodies.
Brunello Cucinelli, 50 Gansevoort Street
London based Belstaff closed its Madison Avenue venue and opened a few months ago on Gansevoort Row. The brand, known for its trailblazer jackets worn by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, said that the area felt like home. The space, done by Brinkworth Design, mixes vintage and modernist decor.
Vintage clothing is in the mix. The new pieces reflect the heritage styling of the brand. What’s old is new.
Started as a canvas supplier in WWI, Belstaff’s canvas jackets are signature pieces. The leather ones are now stylish classics as well. Sweaters, shirts, pants and accessories are all buy and hold items.
Women’s clothing is along one wall. Belstaff has been doing women’s clothing for 95 years. They even created Amelia Earhart’s canvas flight jumpsuits. The pieces here are solid classics in the best fabrics.
One of the most interesting concepts, The Workshop, is located at the back of the store. You can restore, repair and renew your pieces. Design your own jacket. Have the Trialmaster customized in your fabric, decorated with patches, embellishments as shown on the walls. Garments can be aged like the red jacket on the mannequin. All the work is done by local craftspeople in the Workshop. A photo of Che Guevara hangs on the wall. He wore his Trialmaster on an eight-month motorcycle trip across South American.
Belstaff, 62 Gansevoort Street
Contemporary brands, like Frame, are moving in, too. Los Angeles based, and owned by two Swedes, the brand is well known for its high-end London inspired jeans. They are opening stores and expanding the range.
Jackets, sweaters, outerwear shirts, and jackets are being added to the mix. So are shoes, boots and bags. The boutique has a super-clean look. Do as Gigi Hadid and Taylor Swift do — shop here with attitude.
The boutique was decorated by Atelier de Troupe. They did the custom fixtures and furniture. To be sure, the signature jeans are here. Neatly displayed in a single size, with more sizes in the back.
Menswear is at the back of the store. The men’s collection is smaller than the women’s, but no less cool.
Gansevoort Street seems to be evolving into a pedestrian street these days. All the better for taking a walk and peeking into all the stores. And more are coming. There is a sign for a Bally store, and trade papers say that Rolex and Audemas Piguet are next. Quite an evolution for MePa.
Frame, 64 Gansevoort Street
Pastis reopened on Gansevoort Row in 2019. Its “terrace” was always the chicest place to eat. Now it has been expanded and is the only place to dine. A line to get in is not an unusual sight.
Pastis, 52 Gansevoort Street
A few blocks to the south, off Bleecker Street, is a small shop full of lots of different things. Tarin Thomas was selling her made in New York jewelry online for seven years, and now has a store.
Tarin was able to move in and use the existing store fixtures after APC’s departure. Coupled with a good rent, it was the perfect scenario for a small brand. Good to see that it’s not just the major luxury brands that are opening new stores these days.
Vintage clothing, from Jil Sander to Liz Claiborne, is for sale at the back of the boutique.
A collection of vintage home goods is available in store only, along with interesting new pieces.
The jewelry is displayed in a long case. If you want different metals, stones or sizes, all of that can be made to order in New York. The store also has several intriguing collections of beauty products.
Tain Thomas, 92 Perry Street off Bleecker Street
Stoney Clover Lane has been cheerfully moving from the internet into stores on the East and West Coast. Two sisters working in a college dorm decided that the world needed glam travel accessories.
The basic accessories are all customizable in a fun way. A collab with Hello Kitty is the newest addition.
The rainbow-colored bags fill the welcoming pink-hued shop. Buy them as they are, or start from scratch.
If bright saucy colors are not your style, black, white and neutral bags are also for sale.
There is a customization station at the back of the store. The colorful displays of bags are incredibly well done, as is the vintage “sweets” counter that runs the length of the store.
The vintage cake stands on the counter are filled with decorated letters, symbols, objects, embroidered objects, beads and more. They are more fun and less fattening than real sweets. New ideas are what makes fashion go round. And Stoney Clover Lane proves that there shan’t be a shortage in the future.
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.