Finding the French in New York: Shopping in New York
Paris is the capital of style. This is an inarguable truth, not a topic for debate. I am fixed in this belief, and not likely to be convinced otherwise. No other city has yet managed to so thoroughly master the art of dressing, whose key, I believe, lies in the difficult practice of restraint. Go shopping in New York or London, and observe the local fashionistas—you’ll see what I mean about the challenges of restraint.
As a New York City transplant to Paris several years ago, I was immediately struck by the pervading “classic is king” approach to fashion, and went about refining my own style soon after my arrival. I started exploring the city’s boutiques—in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Marais particularly—and fell hard for clothiers like Sandro, Maje and Isabel Marant. Upon my return to New York, I was sad to bid adieu to many of my new sartorial soul mates, and found myself surfing their websites late at night in fits of nostalgia.
So imagine my delight not too long ago when I discovered that some of my favorites (and then some!) were setting up shop in New York: Isabel Marant arrived in SoHo in 2010, and Céline materialized on Madison Avenue at the beginning of 2012. The Bleecker Street mall, several blocks’ worth of some of New York’s best shopping, is fast becoming a home away from home for French fashion emigres, as well as my happy place when I’m feeling homesick for the good old days in France. It’s not quite the Marais, but you won’t hear me complaining.
The quintessentially Parisian labels Maje and Sandro, modern tailoring experts excelling in everyday pieces with an edge, opened on the same day next door to each other, at the corner of Bank Street, near Zadig & Voltaire, where there is no such thing as too much bedazzle. A petit Bonpoint, for fashion mavens in the making, sits down the street from the magical Diptyque boutique, a pastel wonderland of perfumes and candles at Perry Street. Maison Martin Margiela’s lower-priced MM6 label occupies a narrow storefront between Charles and West 10th Streets and was the first and only stand-alone MM6 in the world when it opened at the end of last summer.
Though I wasn’t particularly fond of their lifeless, dowdy pieces a few years ago, Comptoir des Cotonniers has updated its aesthetic recently, trading in potato-sack dresses in favor of sleeker lines in vibrant colors and more luxurious fabrics—and by the way, it’s working.
Gas Bijoux, originally from sunny Saint-Tropez, is a dainty pink boutique lined with jewel cases full of dangly earrings and all species of bracelets. Down the block, the stripy, nautical Saint James shop opened last summer between Grove and Christopher Streets and is the place to go for the perfect sailor sweater. Sadly, Café Angelique, two doors down, which held so much promise after a long day of shopping, is French by name only. Finally, with all my fashion favorites covered, if only I could find the perfectly crisp croissant.
Zadig & Voltaire
Maison Martin Margiela
Comptoir des Cotonniers
Editor’s note: Enjoy Champagne in NYC for less if you are a GG2P Travel Club member.