Quiet Farewells On Madison Avenue From Soigné K, Cesare Paciotti
& Girard-Perregaux

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Like every desirable shopping district these days, Madison Avenue is once again accumulating its share of empty retail space. A few familiar storefronts on the street's golden stretch from 57th to 72nd Streets have called it quits in recent weeks. While we know that Godiva's corner shop will soon be shoe designer Louis Leeman's first U.S. store, we are still waiting to see what will happen at No. 833 where shoe designer Cesare Paciotti has sold stilettos for several years (above). Renovations appear to be underway for a two-story store. The store next door, once home to the Madison Avenue Bookshop also remains empty and available. 

Next out is Soigne K at No. 717 (2nd in the gallery above), which made a splash about four years ago selling contemporary Indian designer clothing, but, apparently, couldn't sustain the momentum. it is one of the few remaining independent, multi-brand boutiques on Madison Avenue proper, and next door, the former Moga boutique space is serving as a temporary Tod's store, and will presumably return to its empty state once its occupant's flagship renovation is completed. Soigne K's website seems to still be open, so perhaps a new location is in the works.

Finally, Swiss luxury watchmaker Girard Perregaux has apparently vacated its boutique at No. 701 (3rd in the gallery above). Madison Avenue has increasingly become home to rarefied watch brands in recent years, so this, Kering owned store would have seemed to be a fairly stable fixture. Only a ghost of its signage remains, however even as Richemont-owned Officine Panerai prepares to open its own splashy shop next door. Hopefully, none of these empty stores will remain so for long, and some may well be preparing for new tenants, so a check back in a couple of months may be in order to see what kind of new neighbors are in store for Madison Avenue.

Luxury Trade-Off: Louis Leeman To Swap Chocolates For Shoes On Madison Avenue


This Weekend Is Your Last Chance To See The Costume Institute's Blockbuster Charles James Show

There was a little question in the air this past May when The Costume Institute opened its current but soon to close exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion: Would visitors be lured in by a major exhibition's scholarly take on a revered designer despite his being little known outside of hard-core fashion circles?
The answer, as it turns out is a resounding yes.
Faring better than recent high-concept shows at the Met like 2013's Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations and 2012's Punk: Chaos to Couture, this show will end up as the 5th most visited at the Costume Institute in the past 25 years according to the New York Times. Stellar reviews certainly did their part, but word of mouth about the ingeniously designed exhibition that literally takes the viewer inside the designer's lavish gowns is likely what put visitor levels over the top.

If you haven't managed to get yourself to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see it yet, then you still have a few days left to catch it. The exhibition closes on Sunday, August 10th, so get a move on. Luckily, thanks to the completion of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, we won't have to wait until next May for the a new show. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire will open on October 21st. That's about two and a half months away, so mark your calendars.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion through August 10th at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side
New Looks: The Costume Institute Cleanses The Palate With Charles James: Beyond Fashion At The Metropolitan Museum


Pottery Barn & Williams Sonoma Leaving 59th Street
Are Rent Increases Forcing
Every Store To Move?

PotteryBarnWS-NYPostWhat does it mean when the national chains aren't interested in renewing a lease with a rent increase? We don't know it that is exactly the reason why the sibling Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn stores on 59th Street have become available, but The New York Post is reporting that 32,000 square foot space that the stores have shared for the past 15 years is on the market. Perhaps the stores are moving to higher profile space nearby and rent isn't the issue. While a half a block between Bloomingdale's and Park Avenue can be considered a pretty favorable location, sometimes major stores can get lost mid-block on a side street, and there may be some better space available from which to serve the Upper East Side on Third Avenue, but the stores took the space in the late 90s, when rents were much lower, and 15 years suggests the end of a typical 10-year lease including a 5-year renewal option. Many will remember the location as the home of the legendary disco-era store Fiorucci, which famously employed nightlife figures who modeled the store's wares at Studio 54 for regular customers like Andy Warhol and Jackie Onassis. As that store fizzled, Urban Outfitters took over the final years of its lease before Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma took over after a major remodel that added custom façades for the retailers. With rents what they are, it seems hard to imagine that a flashy, fun, store like Fiorucci would ever be able to thrive in such large location at a $400 a square foot rent.

It's become something of a scandal in both the retail and restaurant worlds in New York that longtime merchants are routinely being forced to uproot and move or shut down as their leases come to an end due to steep rent increases thanks the the current real estate boom in the city. The result has been a lot of empty storefronts in affluent shopping areas all over Manhattan as landlords (many of whom are in other cities or countries) patiently wait months and even years for that deep pocketed bank or chain store or restaurant to pony up the dough for the space.
But Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma are national chains.
If they aren't willing to absorb a rent increase, then who is? And how can any store expect to stay in the same place for more than 15 years at the most? Maybe they no longer will. Perhaps the days of an independent or even small chain store remaining in place over decades are over. Maybe retailers should just set up shop in mobile home units, ready to take off and move at a moment's notice.

Fiorucci’s former location coming up for rent (NYPost)


Donna Karan To Exit Madison Avenue By The End Of August

Donna Karan
may be luxuriating on the Hamptons for the Summer, but her flagship Collection boutique on Madison Avenue (pictured above) will be homeless by the end of the Summer. WWD reports that the 13 year-old store at 819 Madison between 68th and 69th Streets will close when its lease expires at the end of August. There were no specific details about why the store was closing, or where it might move beyond a statement from the designer's spokesperson announcing the planned closure and stating, "At this time, we are exploring other opportunities for a space more reflective of the spirit of our brand today." One can only presume that the inevitable rent hike that would have accompanied a lease renewal must have been a factor in the decision to close the store, but there may have been business concerns as well. While the DKNY brand remains a significant business, Karan's signature label is no longer the powerhouse with a fiercely loyal following and prominent placement in department stores that it once was. Now owned by LVMH, The Donna Karan New York label has lost ground at the high end to international luxury brands like Gucci and Prada and even hometown competitors like Michael Kors. The expense of a Madison Avenue boutique in such a prime location may not have been justified without some kind of resurgence from the brand. Karan will still be represented in the city with DKNY boutiques, and the designer's own Urban Zen fashion and wellness store in the West Village, which she owns separately from her eponymous brand. There are still 11 other Donna Karan Collection boutiques that are expected to remain open, but few of them have the prestige or visibility factor of Madison Avenue, so the question remains, if, when and where the store will reopen that will have a similar impact?

Donna Karan's Madison Avenue Flagship to Close (WWD)


A Goyard Boutique Is Coming To NYC

There's Gucci. There's Prada. There's always Louis Vuitton, but status minded handbag carriers have known for a few years now that if you really want an exclusive patterned canvas purse dangling from your wrist, you splurge for Goyard. Available at only six separate points of sale in the entire United States, including a freestanding boutique in San Francisco, three Barneys locations and both Bergdorf Goodman's Men's and Women's stores, the coveted Paris-based brand's website proudly announces, "Goyard does not engage in any form of e-commerce". If you see any websites offering that unmistakable geometric signature pattern, you can be sure that they are phonies. Luddites though they may be, the folks at Goyard have decided to add a fourth door in Manhattan at 20 East 63rd Street which our friends at Racked discovered only from seeing the elaborate plywood scaffolding that currently covers the brownstone it will occupy on Jim Shi's Instagram account (pictured above). There's no word on when the store will be ready to open its doors, but now we will all be watching carefully to see when this stealthy contender is ready to enter New York's hyper-competitive luxury accessory and leather goods market.

Goyard's First New York City Store Will Be Really Hard to Miss (Racked)


The Costume Institute Will Wear Widows' Weeds For The Fall

MourningEnsemble1870-72The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has officially announced that their next exhibition will focus on the tradition of mourning clothes. If you are thinking that that will make for a very somber Met Ball, don't worry. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire (Not to be confused with the 1992 Robert Zemeckis film Death Becomes Her about the quest for eternal youth starring Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep) will open on October 21, well before the next gala. Since the opening of the newly renovated Anna Wintour Costume Center earluier this year, the Costume Institiute will once again be mounting two shows a year, and this one will be the museums first fall show since 2007. You can be sure that when the next gala rolls around, the theme will be somewhat more festive.

And speaking of the show, don't presume that it will necessarily be a downer. Curated by Harold Koda, the Institute's Curator in Charge along with Assistant Curator Jessica Regan, Death Becomes Her will chronicle 100 years of mourning dress from 1815 to 1915 allowing it to easily cover, among several other periods, the death-obsessed Victorian Era. The show will be designed to offer more than just sociological insight, and there's a lot more than weeping involved. “The predominantly black palette of mourning dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes,” says Koda,  “The veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances.  As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order."

Like the current Charles James show, the upcoming exhibition will allow for greater display of the museum's costume collection than in the past few years, and will include mourning gowns worn by both Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra, who, as royals, had a great influence on the mourning traditions of their times. So don't expect just a dour parade of dreary dresses. This Fall, the Costume Institute will use a little death to tell us more about life.


See Photographer Garry Winogrand's Chronicle Of Mid-Century America

Are you all shopped out now?
Have you been to every possible sample sale at this point?
Tired of looking at all that Spring merchandise in the stores and not ready to see Pre-Fall this ealry in the Summer?
This would be an excellent weekend to catch the new photography exhibition, Garry Winogrand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opening today, the show collects more than 175 of the prolific photographer’s works including famous images you will recognize as well as new prints pulled from proof sheets that the photographer himself was never able to fully realize, and even over 6,000 rolls of film that he never got a chance to develop before his untimely death at age 56. While Winogrand is recognized as one of the major figures of 20th Century photography, his early death turned attention toward some of his more famous contemporaries, and vast portions of his work have remained relatively unexplored —even by close associates— until now. The show’s curators sifted through troves of his archives, developing that film and re-editing proof sheets, to select and in several cases present for the first time works that give a richer understanding of his body of work. Fashion fans will easily notice the strong influence the Winogrand's spontaneous method has had on contemporary fashion photographers (Bruce Weber and Arthur Elgort immediately came to The Shophound's mind)

If that all sounds too highfalutin, don’t be discouraged. Rather than working in a studio, the Bronx-born Winogrand made a point of photographing real people wherever he might find them, which means everywhere, all the time. Every one of Winogrand’s prints catches an arresting moment in real life, whether it’s a couple motoring down Park Avenue in a convertible with a monkey in the back seat, or some particularly festive revelers at the Metropolitan Museum’s Centennial Ball in 1969 (pictured above). The zoo, the beach, a bus, a protest rally or a rodeo were all fertile ground for material. Still, his photos still center more on people and whatever their experiences may have been at the moment he caught them rather than their surroundings, however historically significant they may be. New Yorkers in particular will appreciate an abundance of images taken in the city between 1950 and 1971, giving us glimpses of life in a familiar place at very different times.

Of course, that’s not all that’s going on at the Met. If you haven’t yet seen the Charles James exhibition at the Costume Institute, then it’s a good opportunity to catch a double header of two great shows, as well as an impressive Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt currently being installed for a formal unveiling this Monday.
So take a day off from the shops. Your wallet will probably thank you, although there is that Museum Store....

Garry Winogrand starts today and runs through September 21 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street Upper East Side
See a few more selections from the exhibition in the gallery below

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Garry WinograndFortWorth1974-77


Apple In, VBH Out On Madison Avenue

940-madison-avenueAfter covering most of the city's other main shopping neighborhoods, it looks like Apple has finally found the right spot to service the Upper East Side's computer customers. The V.B.H. boutique at 940 Madison Avenue at 74th street is about to become Manhattan's sixth Apple Store, and one of its most elegant. No official announcements have come from the company, but as with the Grand Central Terminal store, construction permit applications from Apple's favored architecture firm have confirmed the past few month's rumors. While the exterior is not expected to change —it is protected by being in the middle of the Upper East Side historic district— the gallery-like, Peter Marino designed interior of V.B.H. is expected to be demolished. The building began its life as home to the U.S. Mortgage & Trust Co. and more recently, housed home furnishings brand Mackenzie-Childs before becoming V.B.H. about a decade or so ago. Part of the building is also occupied by jeweler David Webb. There's no word yet on whether or not it will stay put, or have to find yet another new location of Apple takes over the entire building.

This leaves us with the question of exactly what is to be come of the soon to be vacating V.B.H.? Started by Valentino alum Bruce Hoeksema, it was positioned as an uber-exclusive luxury brand featuring lavish precious jewelry and exotic handbags and accessories presented in a discreet but opulent environment across the street from the Whitney Museum. Bergdorf's and Neiman Marcus were wholesale clients, but the brand's recent clearance sale at Soiffer Haskin featured an alarming abundance of handbags, and the brand's website appears to be defunct. Will V.B.H.'s exit from Madison Avenue be its final exit, or is it simply shedding some increasingly expensive overhead? Time will tell, but in the meantime, Upper East Siders can look forward to a more convenient location for the nearest Genius Bar.

Apple Store to open on the Upper East Side (NYDN)


The Costume Institute Cleanses The Palate With Charles James: Beyond Fashion At The Metropolitan Museum

There are a few reasons why The newest Costume Institute exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a Big Deal. The Shophound got a preview of the show yesterday, and anyone who has been nonplussed by some of the thematic extravaganzas the Museum has presented over the past few years might be surprised and will probably be pleased by the focused, streamlined and, yes, even scholarly show that opens to the public on Friday. The show is not without its own flash, but this time it takes the form of illuminating high-tech displays that take you literally inside the garments.

Last night's celebrity laden Gala was extra momentous because it also celebrated the debut of the Costume Institute's newly renovated facilities and galleries now renamed The Anna Wintour Costume Center after the Vogue EIC and Condé Nast Artistic Director. While there has been no end of press commentary about the honor given to one of the Museum's most effective fundraisers, the results of the renovation are a success. The Costume galleries —still downstairs, through Ancient Egypt— have shed their serpentine configuration for a larger, more open room allowing for more flexibility in exhibition design. This is where our preview started, with a section of the show features multiple examples of James' less dramatic but no less technically accomplished coats, day clothes and shorter cocktail dresses. It's a fairly traditionally styled display (see it in the gallery below), until you notice that several pieces are accompanied by 3-dimensional animated computer schematics that take the designer's patterns and show how they have been be manipulated into the often deceptively simple garments on display, unveiling James' intricate construction techniques. It turns out that this is actually a show for fashion nerds who are every bit as interested in how things are made as who wore them and how glamorous they looked, even if his regular clients included luminaries like Babe Paley, Gypsy Rose Lee, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Millicent Rogers and more. Interestingly, a smaller gallery contains selections from James' archives including sketches, notes, scrapbooks and other memorabilia including a typed list entitled, “CLIENTS WHOM I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO DRESS...SOMETIMES COULD HAVE BUT DID NOT” which included pointed commentaries on various personages. What a pity that Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Maria Callas and Greta Garbo missed out on being dressed by James. It certainly might have rescued him from the obscurity he fell into toward the end of his life if he had a little bit more celebrity appeal. By the same token, one wonders what he might have dreamed up if he had the opportunity to work with David Bowie, Gertrude Stein and Mick Jagger.

The section downstairs prepares us for what is more likely to be the beginning of the exhibition for most visitors. The show's main flaw is that it is separated into two, unfortunately far-flung sections. The next part is clear across the museum on the main floor in the Special Exhibition Galleries. Traveling is an annoyance, but it's worth the excursion to see the meat of the exhibition, an amazing collection of the dramatic ball gowns that Charles James is known for —at least by those who know him at all. Again, restraint, serves the show well here. Instead of trying to recreate the famous Cecil Beaton photo that has become the show's poster, the gowns are placed far apart on large, circular platforms and spot-lit in a darkened room devoid of decor except for mirrored walls printed with quotes from James (pictured above). The stark tableau is impressive enough, but get closer to each garment and discover each one paired with its own video screen that scrolls from a detailed description of the particular gown style and possibly its original owner to more computer renderings and X-ray images paired with projections on to the dresses themselves revealing the inner structures that add lightness to shapes that one would think should be cumbersome. Never has a Costume Institute show used technology to such an arresting effect. Charles James: Beyond Fashion may not have the glitz appeal of Punk or Superheroes, or the timely, elegiac overtones of the Alexander McQueen exhibition, but it shows that the Costume Institute can get serious and scholarly without getting boring.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion from May 8 through August 10 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side

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Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier To Bring His Own Label To Madison Avenue

Since taking over creative duties at Bottega Veneta in 2001, Tomas Maier has done such an exceptional job of restoring the label's relevance and developing it as one of parent company Kering's most consistently profitable luxury lifestyle brands that a lot of customer forgot that he had been running his own small but highly regarded swim and sportswear label since 1997. They will get a big reminder later this year when Maier opens his own boutique at 956 Madison Avenue between 75th and 76th Streets (pictured in the Google image above) with some new backing from Kering.
In an industry infamous for personalities that are outsized to a fault, Maier himself seems happier out of the spotlight. Up until this year, he has been content with shops for his own brand in seasonal, secondary markets like East Hampton, NY and Palm Beach, FL. His signature label has continued to operate quietly while he revamped Bottega Veneta, but now that the larger status brand has been so well reestablished, Maier will finally be ramping up his own, more casual brand with a new headquarters on East 57th Street featuring a broader assortment of sportswear, shoes and accessories for men and women —just don't expect any splashy runway shows or celebrity laden launch parties. “We don’t need one more fashion show, or an ad campaign for two years, only for it to then disappear, or the glitzy store with the glamorous opening party that closes six month later,” Maier tells WWD. “I don’t want any of that. I like it very professional, but also humble. I like the money being spent to go to the right place, and that is product development and the ways we can relate to wholesale and retail clients.” The expanded collection will still be made primarily in Italy and the E.U., but Maier promises to keep the prices reasonable. "A T-shirt for $285? That’s a little much," he says in perhaps an unintentional dig at his other job where staggering prices have become commonplace. For his own, expanded line prices are promised to be kept under $1000. As if to underscore Maier's low key approach, the store won't even be taking advantage of the seasonal Fashion Week press hype in September. Look for its doors to open a few weeks later in the calm of October, just as the resort collections thea Maier hs been so successful with start arriving on the racks.

Tomas Maier's Mission: Growing His Own Brand (WWD)
Tomas Maier (Official Site)