Walking around SoHo is great way to appreciate New York’s architectural heritage. The cast iron facades (an American invention, worth noting) are stunning, and in the summer it is always fun to see the rooftop gardens sprouting with flora and fauna. The artists who had once flocked there for inexpensive studio space worked hand in hand with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to beat back the proposed addition of a ten-lane highway that would have torn through Little Italy and Soho.
The neighborhood today is lively and crowded, sometimes too crowded on weekends. Tourists are starting to return, though Europeans tend to be sparse (with the euro at parity with the dollar, New York is less of a bargain). But New York is back.
New stores are opening up almost daily, it seems, or moving into new locations. A mix of brands from different countries, with different styles, are bringing new views and new ideas to a city that welcomes all good ideas.
After having been away for a few weeks, I was walking down Broome Street when I noticed the amusing faux-Lichtenstein windows. A few weeks before the space had been empty. I recognized the name of the store as another location is a few blocks away on West Broadway.
Flying Solo is obviously doing well. They had recently moved into larger stores several times, and they now have two. Flying Solo offers designers from around the world a chance to sell in New York. For a monthly fee, the designers get a small selling spot and staff to sell the merchandise.
This new space is more open than the other store. Each rack or display module exhibits the products of a different designer, with more than twenty creatives to be found here. Casual and day clothing is at the front of the store along with shoes and bags.
Collections of evening and occasion dresses populate the back of the boutique. Flying Solo is a mini-department store. The collections are vetted by the Flying Solo buyers, and about one hundred brands a year are sold in store and online. If you want something unique, this is the place to find it.
All types of jewelry are showcased in the back room of the store. Creative pieces, both costume and semi-precious pieces, are the norm. There is much to discover here.
Flying Solo, 419 Broome Street
Givenchy has just opened a boutique on Greene Street. The brand has not had a downtown presence until now. This store is quite a bit larger than the new Madison Avenue location, but the aesthetic is similar. Bags and small leather goods line the walls as you enter.
There is a very small selection of men’s and women’s clothing at the back of the ground floor. In both locations women’s clothing is diplayed on mannequins designed in collaboration with the artist Ewan MacFarlane. Matthew Williams, the American designer, was hired a few years ago to toughen up the house of Givenchy. The men’s clothes are streetwear to the max.
There is a large space downstairs with both men’s and women’s clothing — and a peculiar mannequin. All the racks are kept sparse. The women’s clothing trends towards street smart shapes for day, with edgy evening outfits.
There are large dressing rooms and a good sized stock room downstairs. The stockroom holds many pieces that are not kept on the selling floor. Many brands are doing that these days.
There is a large skylight at the back of the boutique. Light floods both levels of the store. Another enigmatic sculpture crouches on a pedestal brandishing a hair brush. The store design mixes marble and a raw ceiling with exposed pipes and construction features.
Most of the footwear consists of sneakers and slides. There are some heels and statement boots for women. Mr. William used to dress celebrities like Gaga and others, so it’s a new vision for Givenchy.
Givenchy, 94 Greene Street
Mulberry, the British heritage brand, has moved into a new space where Balmain used to be on Wooster Street. The company was started in 1971; and grew and grew. They pride themselves on being Brit focused wherein about half of their product is manufactured in Great Britain.
There are quite a few different styles that come in a multitude of colors, shapes and sizes. The brand has morphed from its original utilitarian look into a more fashion focused brand.
Johnny Coca now heads up design. As an alum of Vuitton and Celine, he brings a new vision to the brand. He does a nice selection of wallets, belts and other small accessories.
You will find a nice selection of bags and backpacks for men. The bags are precisely and tastefully designed. Even better, the store is happy to repair bags or offer in store care.
The brand offers a range of trainers, as the Brits call sneakers. The store is a comfortable place to shop; and everything is well-priced for the level of quality and design.
Mulberry, 100 Wooster Street
A world away is the new Jonathan Adler flagship, located in an interesting space that had been both a Lazlo Skin Care Lab and an art gallery. It had been empty for a while, but now looks perfectly happy filled with Adler’s infectious furniture and accessories. The floor showcases all the product lines.
Jonathan Adler dreamed of becoming a potter, and sold his first work to Barney’s in 1994. He added category after category. The table pictured above is covered in colorful acrylic game sets that offer a fun spin.
There is plenty of pottery and accent pieces in glass, lucite and metal. Furniture and lighting abound. Sofa, chairs, rugs, sconces, chandeliers — pretty much any category you might want.
The vintage-inspired furniture comes in many styles. There are Complimentary Design Services to help choose pieces that are right for you, and also Interior Design Services for the head to toe look. A design studio is located here; make an appointment and they will help. The brand has done interiors for hotels like the Parker Palm Springs and the Eau Palm Beach, as well as for private homes.
Creative throw pillows are another fun category. Needlepoints include Prozac and Xanax (with matching lucite and metal versions of the pills), witty winks, images and more. Beach towels are also tucked into the shelves. Need gifts? This location has a lot going for it, and it’s all fun and games.
Jonathan Adler West Braodway, Soho Atelier, 382 West Broadway
On the other side of SoHo, Slowear has opened a new light-filled location — the Venetian men’s brand known for casual-chic classic men’s wear. Slowear owns most of the manufacturers whose clothing it stocks, Incotex, Zanone and more.
There is a dedicated men’s “beauty” department beyond the entrance. Need a Bro Mask? Face care and shaving products mix with scents and candles.
There is a small selection of bathing trunks. Sunglasses and pocket squares are in the cases. Knitwear and tees are neatly folded in the windows. A small collection of footwear is also available.
Part of the store design is accomplished with folding screens. This adds flexibility to the space without cutting off the light. Shirts, jacket and pants hang within the screens. And the wood floors and rugs create a more intimate feeling.
Unstructured jackets and blazers come in unusual colors. Slowear is an elegant lifestyle collection, done only as Italians can do it. Quiet must-have clothing.
At the back of the boutique is a stylish lounge with mid-century furnishings. The books and vinyl are for sale. Refreshments are offered. The world of Slowear is revealed.
Slowear, 330 Lafayette Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.