Thursday, June 23. 2022. Cooler, yesterday in New York with temps dropping into the mid- and even low-60s where after a raft of warm days, at first it seems “chilly.” Furthermore the weather forecasts are talking about very hot days plus storms. Variety is the spice of life.
Last week JH and I had one of our occasional lunches at Michael’s where we discuss our business and activities. After lunch we continued our conversation while walking up Madison Avenue taking in the traffic and activity on one of New York’s snazziest streets when it comes to commercial (fashion and food) activities that draws its audiences from the Upper East Side, including Fifth and Park Avenues.
Madison Avenue in the mid-60s has been undergoing constant change and construction which is always interesting to observe: something going out with something coming in.
At 65th Street, the old Armani store is now gone, quite literally, demolished to the ground. It will soon be replaced by the future home of the Giorgio Armani flagship boutique and residences at 760 Madison Avenue. A few doors up is Bar Italia, a favorite local Italian eatery which is managed by our friend, and dapperest man on the Avenue, Hassan El Garrahy.
And right next door from Bar Italia is a small pre-war building — practically overwhelmed by the neighboring scaffolding and the demolition site just down the block. Nevertheless, it had a doorway that opened to a staircase lined with florals and greenery.
Curiosity led us up the steps to the source: on the second floor we came upon a shiny new shop called Anne Barge New York/Flora On Madison where two women, Shawne Jacobs and Flora Petakas, were putting the finishing touches on their boutique for an “opening” (by invitation only) that very night.
Upon entering, one could see instantly, the business is bridal. Two walls of wedding gowns and dresses, and two walls of formal women’s wear (to be worn by the mother of the bride perhaps, or for other formal occasions).
I was fascinated simply because, a long time ago, I was once a proprietor of a retail shop up in Pound Ridge, New York, which catered to the women of the community and those nearby such as Bedford, New Canaan, North Stamford, and Greenwich.
Ms. Jacobs is president and creative director of Anne Barge, one of the preeminent bridal and special occasion design houses in the United States. Ms. Petakas is owner of the New York luxury bridal trade show called Union Square Couture, a couture trade show for select American and international designers entering the U.S. market.
This new venture is a joint luxury and bridal and evening wear boutique; and although it is housed under one roof, they are two separate businesses, each available to clients by appointment only.
Both women were filled with nervous excitement around the opening reception, which coincidentally was taking place downstairs at Bar Italia. We asked Jacobs, who is based in Atlanta, what she was looking forward to most: “Welcoming clients from all over the world for the quintessential New York shopping experience, along with the Southern hospitality of my upbringing. We want to make shopping for high-end bridal and eveningwear lovely and memorable!”
Jacobs felt the moment was right to introduce the Anne Barge label to a wider, international market with a store on one of New York’s most fashionable streets. Her flagship Atlanta atelier, which she opened in 2017, is thriving, drawing regional clients as well as Hollywood and Nashville celebrities with whom she has collaborated. She has been at the helm of Anne Barge since 2014, launching Anne Barge Black Label and Little White Dress, a big online success which is now carried in upscale stores.
Flora Petakas’ vision and marketing expertise in luxury bridal and eveningwear at Union Square Couture made her preeminent throughout the industry. For her, launching a retail store was necessary to meet the demand where personal customer relationships are key.
Flora On Madison offers clients — whether attending a wedding or a charity gala — a curated collection of luxe eveningwear. Petakas takes bi-annual trips to Europe to scout new designers and currently features eveningwear designs from Georges Hobeika, Costarellos, Yolan Cris, Rachel Gilbert, Marco y Maria, Sophie et Viola, Gemy Maalouf, Savin London, Anne Barge Black Label and Rhea Costa.
The space itself is serene — decorated in a soft, neutral palette with metallic accents. Two refined chandeliers from Slamp Lighting feature interlocking, hand assembled Cristalflex petals that fill the space with ambient light. Included in the decor are framed bridal photos from personal wedding albums of the owners.
“We want our clients, whether they are searching for a dream bridal gown or a sensational party dress, to feel welcome and special,” said Petakas. “The process of finding a perfect look should be a delightful experience, accented with the highest level of personal service.”
Make an appointment and see for yourself.
Anne Barge New York/Flora On Madison
766 Madison Avenue, 2nd Floor
(between 65th & 66th Street)
By appointment only
Later that night …