by Christina Parrella and Mallory Passuite, 05/07/2013
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Countless visitors and locals are awed and delighted by New York City's iconic and unabashedly extravagant luxury flagship stores. Since the turn of the last century, the world's top designers and fashion houses have staked their claims to the City's most opulent stretches of Midtown real estate, particularly along Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue and 57th Street—and more recently downtown, in SoHo, the Meatpacking District and NoLIta. Though luxury stores can be found in big cities the world over, no one does luxury quite like New York City. Not only do we harbor the world's largest Dolce & Gabbana outlet, the City also features the original Tory Burch store and the Armani/5th Avenue mega-shop with in-house restaurant Armani/Ristorante, serving Michelin-starred chef Lorenzo Viani's fine Italian cuisine. New York's vintage shops may cache one-of-a-kind, thrifty finds, and its iconic department stores remain forever fabulous, but its luxury-brand flagships offer a shopping (and window-shopping) experience unlike any other.
Upper East Side
841 Madison Ave., 212-359-0300
After becoming a superstar as the design mastermind behind Gucci's explosive revival in the 1990s, Tom Ford departed the brand in 2004 to create his own line of luxury menswear under his eponymous label. Three years later, Ford opened his William Sofield–designed concept shop on Madison Avenue, now with a full line of both men's and women's wear, accessories and a much sought-after cosmetics line. Ford’s signature suit, which is polished and elegant, provides a striking silhouette. The dress shirt comes in 350 colors, with 35 fabric options, three cuff styles and seven collar choices. The shop's two levels include a well-stocked floor of ready-to-wear apparel, complete with a fireplace, beaver rugs and butlers; three appointment-only, made-to-measure suit salons; and a marble-floored, mirror-lined perfume bar.
815 Madison Ave., 646-439-0381
Jeanne Lanvin launched the label in 1889, but much of Lanvin's current prominence is owed to creative director Alber Elbaz, who has overseen the line since 2001 and has drawn a following that includes the likes of Michelle Obama and Victoria Beckham. The three-level townhouse-turned-boutique features two-story Palladian windows, art deco chandeliers, a furry white shag rug and plenty of seating from which to take in Lanvin's feminine and elegant women's ready-to-wear, couture and accessories collections.
1009 Madison Ave., 212-517-9339
Fans of the glamorous Italian designer line and its colorful prints can find a complete selection of women’s and men’s clothing, including tops, pants, dresses, tunics, sweaters, cardigans, swimwear and accessories, as well as towels, linens and other home goods—even teddy bears patterned in the brand’s trademark zigzag stripes. Missoni devotees can also worship downtown at M Missoni, the brand’s first flagship dedicated to its lower-priced label ($250–$1,000).
870 Madison Ave., 212-535-3703
When Phoebe Philo became Céline's creative director in 2008, she revived the struggling French brand by reinvigorating the less-is-more trend—simple shapes, color blocking and minimalism define her runway shows. Upon entering the two-story Madison Avenue flagship, the first outpost of the brand in the US, you'll see Philo's vision come to life. The store is stocked with different styles of the much-sought-after "Luggage Tote" as well additional leather handbags, accessories, shoes and clothing from the women's ready-to-wear collection, all of which are neatly displayed. Céline is one of the only luxury brands without an e-commerce site, so a purchase from this polished brick-and-mortar location puts you in undeniably exclusive company.
797 Madison Ave., 212-510-8371
New York City socialite-turned-designer Tory Burch opened her first boutique in 2004 and nearly sold out her inventory the first day. The Madison Avenue flagship store feels fresh and chic, with bold, edamame-green accented walls, purple hydrangeas and black-and-white carpeting. Burch's brand of country-club chic has generated new classics like Oprah's favorite tunic top and the wildly popular Reva ballet flat, which comes in an assortment of colors and leathers, adorned with a shiny cutout of the double-T logo. Located on NoLIta's Elizabeth Street, the boutique carries women's wear, accessories, handbags and shoes.
Tiffany & Co.
727 Fifth Ave., 212-755-8000
The flagship of this iconic jewelry store has dazzled shoppers from the same Fifth Avenue location since 1940. The store's six floors showcase fine jewelry, from sterling-silver logo-engraved cuff bracelets and cuff links to diamond engagement rings and watches to a full line of fine china and stemware. Signature pieces include the Tiffany Key necklace collection, which ranges from $100 to over $5,000, depending on materials, and the Elsa Peretti–designed cursive alphabet pendants, available in gold and silver.
653 Fifth Ave., 212-446-3400
The famed French jeweler and watchmaker moved to its present six-story Fifth Avenue flagship location, a former private mansion, in 1917. The elegant emporium boasts classic collections like Santos de Cartier, based on the brand's original squared-bezel, first-ever men's wristwatch, and Panthère de Cartier, a collection of fierce feline pieces in white or yellow gold, many speckled with diamonds and set with precious gemstones to form the eyes and nose. A coveted Cartier timepiece starts at around $2,500 and climbs into the millions.
717 Fifth Ave., 212-339-5950
When Giorgio Armani designed Richard Gere's wardrobe for American Gigolo back in 1980, he secured a spotlight on the Armani suit, known for impeccable tailoring and ultraclean lines, that it has not since relinquished. The recently redesigned Madison Avenue flagship is the first to house all Armani apparel lines for men and women (from Giorgio to Jeans) in one location, as well as accessories, cosmetics, Armani/Casa, Armani/Ristorante and Armani/Dolci. The sleek space, designed by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas Architects, features glossy black floors, reserved VIP fitting rooms and a glowing-white grand staircase that winds like ribbon through the store's four floors.
9 E. 57th St., 212-407-7100
Mayor Mike Bloomberg declared May 28, 2009, "Burberry Day" in New York City to mark the opening of the British brand's six-story American headquarters in Midtown—the largest in the US. The company, founded in 1856, has been indelibly associated for generations with the enduringly popular trench coat, which it invented during World War I to outfit soldiers fighting on the front lines. Find the now-iconic tan Burberry raincoat and countless variations lined with Burberry plaid, along with men's and women's casual wear, outerwear, formalwear and accessories and clothes for kids.
3 E. 57th St., 212-980-2970
In 1962, Algerian-born French designer Yves Saint Laurent (and partner Pierre Bergé) launched the label that is today credited with the creation of such fashion staples as Le Smoking suit (the first women's tux), the safari jacket and the shirtdress. Yves designed until his retirement in 2002; the brand’s former creative directors include Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati. Today, Hedi Slimane, who dropped the “Yves” from the label’s name in an effort to rebrand the line, designs ready-to-wear collections for the label. The posh and polished 57th Street flagship store echoes the label's sleek sophistication, furnished in all things black, white and mirrored. Within the two floors, find handbags, heels, costume jewelry and apparel in luxurious fabrics for men and women.
15 E. 57th St., 212-355-5050
The 57th Street flagship store embodies classic Chanel chic. The front facade features illuminated glass rectangles that mimic the bottle of the famed Chanel No. 5 fragrance, and the standard Chanel color palette of beige, black and white covers the interior of the store, which stocks everything from couture to cosmetics. The top level of the store's three floors has a VIP salon, a reserved section with recessed lighting and white drapes that flow from ceiling to floor. Since Coco Chanel founded the label in 1909, the luxury brand has popularized such wardrobe legends as the little black dress, the quilted-leather handbag, the tweed bouclé skirt suit, la marinière (Breton sailor stripes) and the signature double-C logo. The innovations of the house's current creative director, Karl Lagerfeld—seen in Chanel's couture fantasies each season in Paris—have only added to the label's mystique.
1 E. 57th St., 212-758-8877
The LV logo has covered the leather bags and luggage of the elite since 1896. But from the ceramic-coated glass exterior to the illuminated, frosted-glass walls and lofted levels overlooking the main floor, Louis Vuitton's Fifth Avenue flagship looks every bit au courant. The store’s window installations, which have featured polka dot, checkered and cherry-blossom designs, showcase the cutting-edge special collections inside. And in addition to leather, the store carries eyewear, jewelry, shoes and apparel for men and women, along with the house's collaborative efforts, which come courtesy of Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs and a host of artists, including Stephen Sprouse and Yayoi Kusama.
Dolce & Gabbana
717 Fifth Ave., 212-249-4100
Known for its overstated, ornate and colorful clothing, Dolce & Gabbana is inspired by the energy and tradition of Italian life. In this mammoth, three-floor flagship, that sentiment is apparent through its display of Venetian glass chandeliers, gilded full-length mirrors and vintage Baroque sofas. The store features a floor dedicated to men’s and women’s apparel, as well as shoes and accessories. It also carries D&G staples like lace frocks, mini leopard dresses, sheer blouses and a vast range of clothing from its ready-to-wear collections.
789 Madison Ave., 212-988-0259
Since starting her namesake label in 1993, Kate Spade has gone from selling basic nylon handbags to building a line that includes apparel, handbags, jewelry, eyewear, shoes, home decor and even swimwear. Like her colorful, girlish line, Spade's new three-floor Madison Avenue flagship is undeniably cute. Decorated in a palette of sherbet colors, the store is covered with bows, hydrangeas and glittering baubles. The 7,900-square-foot space also houses a VIP salon, bar and Spade's exclusive Madison Collection, which retails for 25 percent above Spade's average collection prices.
1122 Madison Ave., 646-863-4188
This 4,400 square-foot emporium is the first flagship store from Halston Heritage, the high-end womenswear line launched in 2009 by the disco-darling designer's company. Modeled after the luxe apartment of the late Halston himself (right down to the obsession with orchids), the shop is stocked with the brand's minimalist chic women's dresses, blouses and skirts, handbags, shoes and elegant evening gowns—all of which pay homage to the brand's glam roots while remaining perfectly modern.
575 Broadway, 212-334-8888
Prada's SoHo flagship store molds high fashion and top design, offering an atmosphere as modern as designer Miuccia Prada's trendsetting label. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas's zebrawood wave flows through the two-story shop, beginning with a smooth curve at one end that cascades into display stairs that are dotted with headless mannequins. The Broadway concept shop carries classics like the black nylon Prada bag, men's leather loafers and the latest runway-ready looks for men and women.
12 Crosby St., 212-966-1616
Since debuting his line of modernized American sportswear in 2003, Parsons graduate and Michael Kors protégé Derek Lam has scored three CDFA awards and opened his first flagship store. Crafted by playful and innovative Tokyo architect group SANAA (which won the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2010), the stunning SoHo shop has a smooth concrete floor and clear acrylic walls that curve and weave between white brick walls and bright, well-tailored, modern women's wear.
138 Wooster St., 212-206-0872
Legendary Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga, who founded his eponymous label in 1919, reconstructed the female silhouette with such creations as the balloon skirt and the baby doll dress. Balenciaga remains as vital (and conceptual) as ever with new creative director Alexander Wang adding embroidered pieces, elegant knits and minimalist silhouettes to the already popular collections for men and women. The label's "it" piece is the Motorcycle Bag (a distressed, Italian calf-leather satchel with brass hardware studs and trailing leather fringe that comes in a rainbow of colors). Temporarily located in SoHo, the flagship store feels modern, raw and as edgy as the label itself, with maroon-and-white walls, stone sculptures and clothing displays. Balenciaga’s permanent flagship is set to open on Mercer Street in August.
103 Grand St., 212-977-9683
Considered fashion’s wünderkind, Alexander Wang started his fashion label in 2007 at age 24. In 2008, he won the coveted Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund Award and added a handbag and ready-to-wear collection. His label, along with his T by Alexander Wang line, features an assemblage of knits, distressed denim and leather, all of which contrast a street wear sensibility with formalwear. The Alexander Wang flagship, with its sleek white-marble interior, fox-fur hammock and black leather couches, is complemented by a permanent cage installation that changes seasonally to highlight elements of the brand’s latest collections. Wang was recently named creative director at Balenciaga.
112 Greene St., 212-255-1556
After staking her claim among the butcher shops in the Meatpacking District, Stella McCartney transferred her flagship to a bigger space in SoHo, but she didn’t lose her sense of luxe in the move. The two-story space features the designer’s main collection, which is feminine, ethereal and animal-friendly, along with her lingerie, children’s clothing and the Adidas by Stella McCartney line.
417 W. 14th St., 212-645-1797
Much of Alexander McQueen's genius design feels ethereal and slightly dangerous, from his signature skull pattern to the wonderfully strange "armadillo" shoes from his spring 2010 collection—the final one before his death in February—and the design of the New York City flagship store itself. McQueen collaborated with Pentagram Architects to create the concept shop, which features white walls with organic curves and clean cutouts for shelving and halogen spotlights. The clothes are bold, beautifully tailored and daring, and the label’s new creative director, Sarah Burton, maintains the brand’s aesthetic.