If we had to guess, we would have to pick David Yurman as America's biggest fine jewelry designer. At least he's the most prominent, and though his multi-level flagship makes an impressive statement on Madison Avenue, it's a little bit surprising that it is his only store in New York City. That's about to change, as the designer has agreed to open a second store in SoHo at 112 Prince Street. The New York Post reports that Karen Millen (pictured below), the current occupant, will move out at the end of this month to make way for Yurman's second Manhattan store. The 2,750-square-foot ground floor should make a well-sized store for the designer that also just happens to be nicely positioned to compete with Tiffany & Co. a few doors around the corner on Greene Street. Yurman should be a good fit for SoHo with a product line that ranges from lavish gemstone studded creations to his somewhat less pricey signature sterling silver cable collection as well as an ever expanding range of watches. There is something for everyone there. The only question is what took him so long? It's likely that he was simply waiting for a perfect location that's also within spitting distance of Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Apple and a Michael Kors store that's about to upgraded from a moderate lifestyle concept to a top-of-the-line Collection store. Bet on the Yurman store being ready for Holiday shopping later this year.
Last Saturday, Cartier shut down its storied Fifth Avenue Flagship for extensive renovations expected to last for two years including an entirely new main floor, enlargement of the penthouse, a dramatic new staircase and Fifth Avenue façade as well as a major overhaul and upgrade of its heating, lighting, ventilation and air conditioning systems. To take its place, the jeweler has taken over part of the GM building previously occupied by the CBS Morning Show, which has spent nearly a year undergoing its own renovation to create a suitable space for an Haute Joaillierie. The "temporary" store is expected to open next week, with the exact time frame for the moving of merchandise a closely guarded secret for obvious security reasons, but an article in The New York Times suggests that the jeweler may hang on to the space even after the flagship reopens. At 8,000 square feet, it will be the jeweler's biggest, even larger than the heritage store at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. It will boast extravagant 22 foot ceilings, and textured glass window treatments are already visible at the location. The interior is being created by the same team that designs Cartier's stores worldwide, so it seems that few expenses have been spared, and Emmanuel Perrin, president and CEO of Cartier International tells the Times that “it absolutely could become permanent.” That leaves us with the question of why the jewelry and watchmaker would need a second, permanent flagship sized store only 7 blocks from its original one, especially with another location over on Madison Avenue?
Location, location, location —as we have said before. While the ornate Italian Renaissance style mansion that has housed Cartier's main store for a decades is as hushed and elegant as one would expect a world class jeweler to be, it is a bit intimidating, with most passerby content to gawk at the opulent jewels in the windows without actually entering the store. By contrast, competitor Tiffany & Co.'s marble showplace at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue has remained a popular tourist destination, and with another, more modern feeling store just steps from FAO Schwarz and the Apple Store, which are two of the most visited retail establishments in the city, Cartier will be well positioned to capture a customer who may not have been comfortable wandering into the main flagship. Of course, the Times notes that Cartier's parent company Richemont could also convert the space for another of its luxury brands which include Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget and Montblanc, but it looks likely that New York will wind up with two Cartier flagships by the time they are finished.
You would think that with all the luxury business in New York City, that there would be room enough for all the illustrious brands in a flagship-sized watch store, but it turns out that some brands have more clout than others, and they will wield it when it suits them. Chanel is suing the city's largest watch seller, Tourneau over a breach of contract regarding an aborted Chanel watch boutique originally installed in Tourneau's multi-level "Time Machine" flagship store on East 57th Street. According to Chanel's suit, when Cartier officials, including its CEO Stanislas Chauveau De Quercize, visited the Tourneau store earlier this year they essentially pointed to Chanel's new in-store watch boutique and said "Either that goes or we do".
In a store like Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth Avenue, a vendor like Chanel might have a certain amount of authority to make demands by virtue of the huge amount of business it generates, but in the luxury watch world, things are different. Chanel's popular and widely copied white ceramic sports watches are mere niche players compared to the giants like Rolex, Omega, Patek Phillipe and, most prominently Cartier. The folks at Tourneau apparently weighed their options and decided that whatever trouble might arise with Chanel couldn't possibly be as bad as losing the Cartier business. Now, Chanel, which no longer does business with Tourneau, is suing for $15 million, and its former boutique is reportedly serving as a Christmas tree display area. Business with Cartier is, presumably, continuing as usual now that the offending brand has been removed, but what could this mean for stores like Saks or Bergdorf's which have multiple agreements with competing luxury labels with in-store shops throughout their stores? Will Dior be able to insist that a new Balenciaga shop be banished from its floor? Will Saint Laurent insist that Céline be moved elsewhere, or even out the door? While Tourneau's little watch battle may seem relatively innocuous, the ramifications might have a rippling effect throughout multi-brand luxury stores.
Chanel Sues Watch Retailer Tourneau in Contract Dispute By Chris Dolmetsch (Bloomberg)
Better late than never is what one can say to the hot Parisian fashion label Carven (pictured above) and the fast growing accessory brand Miansai as they arrive in SoHo with less than two weeks before Christmas.
Finally ready for customers only about a week and a half ago, Carven's first New York boutique admittedly opened a little later than expected, but you may understand why once you see the inventively designed interior that makes the most of an unorthodox space. Previously home to the Curve boutique, which has decamped to NoHo, Carven's Mercer Street store has the odd configuration of having zero display windows and a long, narrow entryway to pass through before shoppers get into the boutique proper. It's a challenging layout, but the brand's creative director Guillaume Henry and his regular store design partner Eric Chevalier conquer it with unexpected elements like an undulating curtain of light bulbs overhead that guide customers into the store, which is almost entirely lined with mirrors. In a neighborhood filled with boutiques that often either mimic the accepted store design styles of the moment or simply replicate the institutionalized style of their designers for the umpteenth time, Carven's quirky, site-specific style is a refreshing surprise that also nicely complements the innovative materials in Henry's apparel designs.
A couple of blocks east, the #menswear favorite accessory line Miansai has also just debuted its own shop. Sometimes, we have to admit, it can be a bit bewildering to figure out why a cadre of influential men's editors and buyers will glom onto an innocuous item like Miansai's narrow cord bracelets with a silver fishhook clasp, but those insiders' support has helped to guide the Miami-based label through the multi-bracelet craze of recent seasons to the point where it is ready for its own outpost on a men's shopping friendly stretch of Crosby Street. The store includes unexpected elements like a tea-and-Kombucha bar and copper-topped counters mixed with SoHo signature like whitewashed, exposed brick walls.“I wanted it to feel very Scandinavian,” Miansai's young founder and creative director Michael Saiger tells WWD. “I wanted it to be homey and inviting. I didn’t want it to feel like a jewelry store.” Now with a more established retail presence, the label has introduced hats, watches and leather accessories for mens and women alike to broaden its reach, and nestled among complementary neighbors like Carson Street Clothiers, Aether, Saturdays Surf and Bonobos, Miansai couldn't be better positioned to continue to grow. Have a look at both stores in our gallery below.
This week's Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs makes her way to Brooklyn to check out the borough's latest validation as a bona fide shopping destination: A Swarovski store. Congratulations, Brooklyn. You're almost like a real mall now. Jacobs approaches the assignment with a certain amount of skepticism, because, you know, store full of sparkles.
Swarovski stores are not, after all, an unknown quantity. This would be the area's 10th, so we're all pretty familiar. Mostly, Jacobs tells us about Swarovski the company in all its many divisions, than about the actual stores, which simply sounds like a place filled with glittery jewelry and pricey, crystal festooned curios of questionable taste. They may seem acceptable taken one by one, but all together, they create an overwhelming effect even for those who normally like shiny things just fine,
USB keys glinted with ersatz amethyst in a nearby vitrine. Even the stems on a pair of martini glasses were fully loaded. It felt like the visual equivalent of having pop music play in your head all day (and that was happening, too).
Sounds like... a Swarovski store.
Critical Shopper: Swarovski’s New Outpost, a Look on the Bright Side By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Swarovski 484 Fulton Street between Bond Street & Elm Place, Brooklyn
As humans, we are often given to hyperbole when describing shiny things, or things that give us pleasure in general. How many times have we seen the "best movie ever" or eaten the "best ice cream in the world" or had People Magazine tell us that someone is the "Sexiest Man Alive" with a definitiveness that is really questionable at best? Well, The Shophound spent quite a bit of time yesterday morning looking over The Metropolitan Museum of Art's newest exhibition, Jewels by JAR, and we are comfortable saying without overstatement that we have never seen jewelry like this before, and we have seen a decent amount of jewelry in our time.
You may wonder if, after seeing this display of artistry and craftsmanship, your own jewelry might start to look a little crappy?
It probably will, at least for a little while. Don't let that keep you away.
On our way home from the Museum, we passed by a jeweler renowned for creativity and finely detailed work, and everything we saw in the window suddenly looked a little bit crude by comparison. We expect to get over this, but it just serves to point out how the jewels on display at the Met are simply on another level from most anything you can buy in even the finest store.
You may also wonder why a jewelry exhibition at the museum is not being staged by the Costume Institute, but due to the Met's particular curatorial guidelines, precious jewels fall under the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. Perhaps this is why exhibition curator Jane Adlin, an Assistant Curator in the department, approached the material as sculpture in the form of jewelry, rather than as a collection of accessories. It works because JAR, also known as Bronx born Joel A. Rosenthal, approaches his work the same way, applying the same kind of detail to a jeweled tulip brooch like the one pictured above that a Dutch master would to a painting of the very same flower. While a world renowned jeweler on the Place Vendôme in Paris might make a perfectly lovely flower brooch out of rubies, diamonds and platinum to justify a stratospheric luxury price. A few doors down, in his own exclusive atelier, Rosenthal might use those same materials, but also add aluminum, lowly zircons or garnets, titanium, enamel or any other seemingly random ingredient that will achieve the kind of visual effect he is after. The value in his work is not only in precious materials, but more so in his artistic rendering. This is why we can look at a case full of his flower brooches and earrings and marvel at how each one is unique as he uses different techniques to create a geranium, a spray of fern leaves, or a camellia, or any number of other flora. There are fauna, too. A wall festooned with glittering butterfly and dragonfly brooches proved a magnet for viewers at the preview. We can't tell you of they were based on actual insects or were fantasy designs, but it hardly mattered. Lightning, mushrooms, owls and even a scoop of melting ice cream are among the many things rendered by Rosenthal in the exhibition. Because of the way the more than 400 objects are presented, you don't have to be a jewelry lover or imagine how one would wear them to appreciate them as art. In fact, they are presented very much apart from the presumed wearers, most of whom maintained their anonymity in lending pieces to the show. There are no photos of people wearing any of the items, and even the displays avoid any illusion to the body. Like any other piece of fine art, the jewels' practical uses are beside the point.
The show is a big deal for the notoriously press-shy Rosenthal. It is the first major exhibition of his work in the U.S., covering the entirety of his career including pieces he hand delivered himself direct from his atelier. It is also the first retrospective at the Met of a living, still working jeweler. Rosenthal works exclusively by appointment. He doesn't sell to other retailers. He doesn't send pieces to magazines or lend them to actresses for red carpet events. In fact, if someone wears one of his pieces, you can bet it is because it has been bought and paid for and probably made exclusively for them. Unless you run in the same circles as JAR clients, this show may be one of the few opportunities you will ever have to see his work in person. In a rare move, he has created a small line of earrings and watches to be sold exclusively at the Museum through the duration of the show. The watches are $600 each, and the earring start at $2000 for styles in resin and go to $7,500 for a pair in gold covered aluminum (pictured in the gallery below). These are truly below-entry level prices for JAR jewels, and are likely to sell quickly to jewelry fans. During a brief Q & A with Adlin during the preview, she was asked about the price range of the pieces in the exhibition. Bristling a bit at the thought, she eventually explained that the museum never comments on the value of anything it displays, which led us to the old adage, "If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it."
See our gallery below for pictures from the Met's press office, some photos of our own and a few of the JAR pieces available exclusively at the museum store.
Jewels By JAR at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 20, 2013 - March 9 2013
J.Crew's CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund Collections Launch Next Week With Tabitha Simmons, The Elder Statesman & Jennifer Meyer
One might think that at some point, The Shophound will get sick of collaboration lines between designers and retailers, but we, and shoppers, seem to have an endless fascination for them, especially when it provides an opportunity for up and coming, young designers to get valuable attention. Next Wednesday, May 22, J. Crew will once again present capsule collections from the top three finalist for the CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund, Tabitha Simmons, Jennifer Meyer and The Elder Statesman. The concise assortments distill each designer's specialty including colorful footwear from Simmons, Glittering jewels from Meyer and the inventive knits (apparently for women only this time) that have put The Elder Statesman in the spotlight. Have a look in our gallery below, and if you want to shop the collections online one day earlier than the rest of the general public, sign up HERE so J.Crew can notify you at the very first instant they are available.
Maybe it's a bit on the nose, but we love how Harry Winston, the great diamond purveyor, has festooned the façade of its Fifth Avenue store with gigantic ultra-fake diamonds for the Holidays. That they don't look remotely real makes them all the more delightful. Viva glitz!
Barneys' New Jewelry Department Is The Final Piece Of Its
Women's Main Floor Renovation
Women's Main Floor Renovation
It has been a year-long wait to see exactly what the finished product would be as Barneys New York has completely restyled the Women's main floor of its Madison Avenue flagship. Revealed in stages, the sleek, minimalist results have been jarring to those accustomed to the quirky character the store has cultivated over the decades as artisanal touches like the shimmering mosaic floor and ersatz romanesque murals have been swept away in favor of slabs of marble and steel. Love it or hate it, you have to concede that it is a decisive statement about how Barneys' current management sees the store's image going forward, and this week, they have revealed the last bit of the floor to be renovated. The jewelry section at the back of the floor has always been a popular destination, even if it was just to gaze at the exotic fishtanks (at right) that served as a backdrop for some of the display cases —a design signature that was imported from the original 17th Street women's store that also served to entertain impatient spouses and children.
Well, those are gone.
The lower section of the department echoes the marble, steel and glass cases that are seen on the rest of the floor, but a few steps up, the salon-like space that houses the most precious jewelry has been given a somewhat more plush ambiance. It is the only part of the floor with carpet, in tones of gray to coordinate with the marble underneath and the brushed steel, rounded display cases arranges in a more gallery-like pattern instead of the traditional banks of cases and counters that put the customer on one side and the sale associate on the other. Above, the mosaic murals have been replaced with two blocks of relief sculpture, one gold colored, one silver (or platinum?) perhaps meant to resemble the precious metals in their raw, ore state. They add a bit of texture, and we might add much needed warmth to the floor.
If you want to remember what the store looked like when it opened nearly 20 years ago, have a look below at an image from original architect Peter Marino's website. Which version do you like better? It's worth noting that the new women's floor has spilled over into what used to be strictly the men's side of the store, which, for the moment remains pretty much as it has been. A big "Renovation" banner, however, tells us that this side of the floor will eventually be due for its own makeover. Hopefully, unlike the new shoe floor, it will retain its own specific character, but, eventually, we shall see for ourselves.
Today's WWD is floating a rumor that Elsa Peretti, a mainstay of Tiffany & Co.'s stable of designers, is considering leaving the famous jeweler which has manufactured and sold her work exclusively since 1974. This information comes after SEC filings revealed that Tiffany has offered to purchase the designer's intellectual property outright for an undisclosed sum. Peretti reportedly responded by suggesting that she was considering "retiring" their longtime licensing agreement and severing her relationship with the retailer.
If Peretti left exited the jeweler, Tiffany would left with Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger who died in 1987 and Frank Gehry who is primarily an architect in its portfolio of proprietary branded jewelry. The last high profile split from Tiffany was Angela Cummings' departure in 1984. She launched her own fine jewelry company with in in-store shop at Bergdorf Goodman, but closed her business in 2003.
If Peretti did split with Tiffany, the separation would be a year and a half process during which rights to manufacture and sell the designs would transfer back to the designer in stages. At that point she would have the option to make her own arrangements for selling products under her own name. Should she choose to do so, there is likely no shortage of retailers who would be ready to offer Peretti's sleek, minimal and timeless designs under their own roofs. Her work ranges from relatively inexpensive silver jewelry to pieces in precious metals and gemstones as well as accessories and home furnishings, suggesting a broad market for an independent Elsa Peretti brand. The question implied by WWD's article is whether or not the 72 year old designer is ready to end what has always seemed like a mutually beneficial 36-year relationship with Tiffany in favor of striking out on her own. The classic, iconic qualities of many of her most famous designs (Diamonds by the Yard, Alphabet, the signature Open Heart, the Bone Cuff, etc.) indicate that her archive of designs will continue to have a commercial appeal long after she might choose to retire, and there would also be opportunities to expand her brand into other design categories like furniture or other home furnishings not carried by Tiffany. Is this her plan, or if it is simply a negotiating tactic to adjust her current agreement with Tiffany? The result could be a huge opportunity not only for Peretti but for any number of retailers who might be eager to be in the Peretti business.