New York City: Celebrating Galentine’s Day on Fifth Avenue

Let’s celebrate friendship at the New York Public Library with my favorite lions: Fortitude and Patience, sculpted by Edward Clark Potter and the Piccirilli Brothers, 1911 (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s celebrate friendship at the New York Public Library with my favorite lions: Fortitude and Patience, sculpted by Edward Clark Potter and the Piccirilli Brothers, 1911 (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

If you’ve got a weekend to spend in the Big Apple during the winter season, I highly recommend exploring the department stores along Fifth Avenue. As your sequined shoes make a brand new start of it, straight through the heart of it, don’t fight the feeling. This still gussied-up stroll will ignite your fire, especially after a cup of Li-Lac’s hot coco. Open since 1923, the Brooklyn-based chocolate factory just opened a new flagship in the West Village. Making no beans about it, it was love at first sip.

Nothing quite like it: I also love the aroma of a hand-rolled, kettle-boiled sesame seed bagel, Murray’s Bagels, Greenwich Village (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Nothing quite like it: I also love the aroma of a hand-rolled, kettle-boiled sesame seed bagel, Murray’s Bagels, Greenwich Village (Photo by Theadora Brack)

New York, New York

I’ve been walking the New York streets since the age of eight. I love the days when nothing gets between your blood and the city’s cacophony. The noise of honking cars. The sound of high heels click-clacking. The squeal of taxi brakes. The ringing of church bells. I’ll take it all. Especially the aroma of street food: falafel, french fries, pretzels, and hotdogs. I don’t even like hot dogs, but you haven’t really lived until you’ve feasted on one from a cart parked outside the Met on a frigid day in January. With relish, please.

Here’s how Anaïs Nin described New York City to Henry Miller during the 1930s: “I love the proportions, the amplitude, the brilliance, the polish, the solidity. I look up at Radio City insolently and love it. The newness. The vitality. Just bring your own contents, and you create a sparkle at the highest power.”

Oh, you said it, Ms. Nin. Now, shall we stroll?

Gaze up at the Empire State Building, but before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed affair to remember! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Gaze up at the Empire State Building, but before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed affair to remember! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Miracle on 34th Street

Let’s launch our window-shopping outside Macy’s at Herald Square. After we’ve admired the vitrines, we’ll gaze up at the nearby Empire State Building, the closest thing to heaven in this city. It’s still true. However, before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed affair to remember! Besides, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr left the building years ago.

Hurtling into the beauty spotlight: Let’s launch our window-shopping outside Macy’s at Herald Square. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Hurtling into the beauty spotlight: Let’s launch our window-shopping outside Macy’s at Herald Square. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

1. Macy’s, 151 West 34th Street (at Broadway)

Rowland Hussey Macy’s “World’s Largest Store” has been shining at Herald Square since 1902. Are you curious about the store’s “star” logo? It’s a salute to the tattoo that Macy got when he worked as a teen on a Nantucket whaling ship in the 1830s. Perhaps R.H. had Moby Dick in mind when he created his first whale of a sale?

Here’s how Macy’s wooed Francophiles in the newspapers during the 1950s:

“Walk into Paris through Macy’s windows! We’ve removed the glass. We’ve reproduced a Paris boulevard right down to the last kiosk! See the fashion accessories that Macy’s stylists spent weeks abroad collecting. Macy’s copies of handbags, scarfs, belts, gloves, and umbrellas are twin to the French in everything but price.”

Tip: Don’t miss the original Otis L-type escalators, located smack dab in the middle of the revamped fragrance hub. The escalators with the wooden treads run between the 8th and 9th floors. Going down? Hold onto the railing because it’s a bumpy ride, but worth every click-clack and jiggle. #Nevergetsold

Curious about the store’s “star” logo? It’s a salute to the tattoo that Macy got when he worked on a Nantucket whaling ship in the 1830s. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Curious about the store’s “star” logo? It’s a salute to the tattoo that Macy got when he worked on a Nantucket whaling ship in the 1830s. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

In January 2019, Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship closed its doors. I’ll admit it—I got weepy looking up at its once majestic façade. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

In January 2019, Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship closed its doors. I’ll admit it—I got weepy looking up at its once majestic façade. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

2. Lord & Taylor, 424 5th Ave (at 38th Street)

Sadly, in January 2019, Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship closed its doors. The banners and signs were removed, along with nearly every brass-plated ornament. I’ll admit it—I got weepy looking up at its once majestic façade. See, here at “The Dress Address” is where I spent many a lunch break, trying on perfume after perfume—often during the same browse—much to the chagrin of the patient sales associates, I’m sure.

Here’s a photo of my final purchase at Lord & Taylor: A red cat bag by Karl Lagerfeld. RIP, Lord & Taylor and Monsieur Lagerfeld, too. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Here’s a photo of my final purchase at Lord & Taylor: A red cat bag by Karl Lagerfeld. RIP, Lord & Taylor and Monsieur Lagerfeld, too. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Never a thumping bore: The year of the grand opening at Saks was 1924, to every flapper’s delight, I’m certain. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Never a thumping bore: The year of the grand opening at Saks was 1924, to every flapper’s delight, I’m certain. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

3. Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 5th Avenue (at 49th Street)

Now, let’s power-push it up to Saks. Look at the flags in the distance. The year of the grand opening was 1924, to every flapper’s delight, I’m certain. Setting the scene: At the crack of dawn on Monday, September 15 that year, hundreds of sightseers appeared, including boxer Jack Dempsey.

“Rush of shoppers opens Saks Store.” “Crowds so large even stenographers are pressed into service as Saleswomen.” “First package to President Coolidge!” “False report that Prince of Wales is there causes stampede of women to men’s department.” Such were the zippy headlines in that day’s The New York Times.

Saks, Study how the vitrines mesh with the reflections of the surrounding cityscape. Providing seamless backgrounds, the trees and skyscrapers play nicely with the mannequins. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Saks, Study how the vitrines mesh with the reflections of the surrounding cityscape. Providing seamless backgrounds, the trees and skyscrapers play nicely with the mannequins. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

What’s new?

Diamond-shaped escalators, that’s what’s new, and shiny, too. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the dichroic film-coated escalators not only twinkle, but also throw flashes of color on the white walls and columns as you ride between the renovated floors. Inspired by the launch of the escalator at the Exposition Universelle 1900, Koolhaas wants to bring back the thrill with a pimped-up moving staircase ride.

Well, I certainly felt the “groovitational” rush and pulled up to the beauty department, now located on the second floor. No shock to you, I’m certain.

Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the new dichroic film-coated escalators at Saks not only twinkle, but also throw flashes of color on the white walls and columns. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the new dichroic film-coated escalators at Saks not only twinkle, but also throw flashes of color on the white walls and columns. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Fool-for-fanciful: I could almost hear the Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack softly a-do-doing as I exited Bergdorf Goodman. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Fool-for-fanciful: I could almost hear the Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack softly a-do-doing as I exited Bergdorf Goodman. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

4. Bergdorf Goodman 54 5th Avenue (at 58th Street)

Herman Bergdorf and Edwin Goodman’s flagship moved on up to 54th Street in 1928. Overlooking Central Park and the Grand Army Plaza, the view is a stunner when the Callery pear trees are in bloom (even if they’re a bit smelly). Also, keep your eyes peeled for the Plaza Hotel, located next to Bergdorf. The Way We Were is just one of many movies to feature this hotel.

According to the Bergdorf Goodman designer Sam Theis, the current installation gives props to props: Showcasing the collections with “surrealism, comedy, and color.”(Photo by Theadora Brack)

According to the Bergdorf Goodman designer Sam Theis, the current installation gives props to props: Showcasing the collections with “surrealism, comedy, and color.”(Photo by Theadora Brack)

Tip: Last year, for the first time ever, I explored the entire department store. I had a ball as I rolled through each and every tiny showroom like a high roller. On the 7th floor, I discovered an exhibition featuring gems from Berdorf’s own archives: Historic photos of the vitrines, advertisements, and sketches by Balenciaga and Dior.

Then, as I flew though the fragrance department, I completely lost my head over the spicy Twilly d’Hermès Eau Poivrée. I sprayed it not only my wrists, but also on the back of my neck—letting the cat out of the bag. Where did I not spray it? I could almost hear Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack softly a-do-doing as I made my exit with a tiny new bottle in hand, glowing and feeling toasty to the core.

As Deborah Kerr said to Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.”

That goes double for chocolate and perfume.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Theadora

Oodles of poodles: Gal pals shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, 1960s, 7th floor exhibition. #ACCESSORYGOALS #HAIRGOALS

Oodles of poodles: Gal pals shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, 1960s, 7th floor exhibition. #ACCESSORYGOALS #HAIRGOALS

 

 

 

 

Paris Tales: Swinging with the Kitties in the City

In celebration of the upcoming international Pet Travel Safety Day, let’s spend it with a few of my own favorite felines in the Paris, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

In celebration of the upcoming international Pet Travel Safety Day, let’s spend it with a few of my own favorite felines in the Paris, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Flying sky high on a lark, I knock. Grab a perch because I’ve got a feathered tale to tell. A great ball of yarn to re-wind, so to squeak. Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie on the family television set at the age of nine, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques. There. I have said it.

Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques (Image: Moviestillsdb.com)

Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques (Image: Moviestillsdb.com)

Set in Paris

A story I tell often, frankly. That cartoon flick was a game changer. Not only did it leave me yearning to be the rhinestone-laden Parisian glamour puss (a.k.a., “Duchess”), but I also fancied running away with her swashbuckling, orange tabby beau, the flamboyant prince of the boulevard, “Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley—O’Malley, the alley cat.”

Oh, c’est très jolie, monsieur Thomas,” I’d murmur again and again at my own reflection in the mirror, channeling my inner-Duchess. (more…)

Paris: Seeking Light and Fashion on the Boulevards

Dispatch from the K-Collection show: I spotted gift bags filled with K-beauty facial masks, crystal manicures, blue tresses, and irresistible bejeweled felt caps at the Palais Brongniart, historical home of the Paris stock exchange. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Dispatch from the K-Collection show: I spotted gift bags filled with K-beauty facial masks, crystal manicures, blue tresses, and irresistible bejeweled felt caps at the Palais Brongniart, historical home of the Paris stock exchange.

By Theadora Brack

One recent blue-skied day during Paris Fashion Week, I got to sit on the front row at the K-Collection show at the Palais Brongniart, historical home of the Paris stock exchange. Here, behind the massive columns surrounding the entrance, three Korean fashion houses presented their Spring-Summer 2020 collections: J. Chung by Jaesun Chung, Wnderkammer by Hyeyoung Shin, and Bmuet(the) by Byungmun Seo and Jina Um.

Mesmerized by the meshing of old and new: edgy mod and frilly prairie, I spied wild kinetic fringe, ruffled multi-tiered skirts and tops, and cheese-patterned frocks. Baguettes in bags, too.

Now, on the K-Collection catwalk, I saw asymmetrical hems, frilly mock turtlenecks, long flowing, souped-up sleeves, ruffled multi-tiered skirts and tops, and cheese-patterned frocks. Baguettes in bags, too! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Now, on the K-Collection catwalk, I saw asymmetrical hems, frilly mock turtlenecks, long flowing, souped-up sleeves, ruffled multi-tiered skirts and tops, and cheese-patterned frocks. Baguettes in bags, too! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

(more…)

Paris Tip: Embrace the Rain

The weather in Paris can change at the drop of a Schiaparelli hat, so pack your camera and parapluie, Pont Alexandre III, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

The weather in Paris can change at the drop of a Schiaparelli hat, so pack your camera and parapluie, Pont Alexandre III, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Ahoy! Calling all Instagram Aficionados: This summertime grid tip is for you. Decked out in fifty shades of pearly grey, the Pont Alexandre III is the perfect backdrop for your photo-op. Rolling across the bridge has never failed to break this siren’s heart.

Designed by architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, Pont Alexandre III was one of the showstoppers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle—along with other new-fangled marvels like talkie movies, escalators, and mechanical sidewalks.

A picture perfect opportunity still, here the dramatic cloud cover high in the sky is your friend, so why not shake up the scene with a red trench coat or blue parapluie?

Favorite Nymph of the Seine by Georges Récipon, Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Nymph of the Seine by Georges Récipon, Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

(more…)

Paris Flea Market Guide: Off to the Puces!

Throughout the year, the City of de-Light stays retro-active with weekend flea markets and pop-up bazaars (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Throughout the year, the City of de-Light stays retro-active with weekend flea markets and pop-up bazaars (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Bewitched by kitsch? Join the rave. Throughout the year, the City of Light stays retro active with weekend flea markets, along with open-air and tented pop-up bazaars. With so many venues, where to start? Here’s a Paris treasure hunt guide.

Meet the fleas: The infamous rag and bone pickers (forerunners of today’s dumpster divers) got the puces party jumping in the late 19th century. Two favorites still exist: Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves and Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (a.k.a. Clignancourt).

At Porte de Vanves, you’ll find everything from key chains, perfume bottles, bolts of fabric, fancy fans, and heartthrob Elvis, too—oh, sigh! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

At Porte de Vanves, you’ll find everything from key chains, perfume bottles, bolts of fabric, fancy fans, and heartthrob Elvis, too—oh, sigh! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

(more…)

Paris: To Notre-Dame with Love

Paying tribute to Notre-Dame (Photo by Theadora Brack, River Boat Ride, March 2019)

Paying tribute to Notre-Dame (Photo by Theadora Brack, River Boat Ride, March 2019)

By Theadora Brack

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s 18th century Grand Organ was rescued—with all of its 8,000 pipes still intact, we think. “None of the pipes have appeared to collapsed,” organ builder Bertrand Cattiaux told The New York Times. “We can just cross our fingers and wait.”

The bell towers were also saved. I’m still waiting for an update on my bells.
Did you know they have names?

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ and bell towers were saved (Photo by Theadora Brack, March 2019)

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ and bell towers were saved (Photo by Theadora Brack, March 2019)

(more…)

France: Two Tales of Tenacity

Celebrating two heroes: Louise Weiss and Marie Marvingt ((Photo by T. Brack), Girl Power Graffiti by @_kvich, Montmartre)

Celebrating two heroes: Louise Weiss and Marie Marvingt ((Photo by T. Brack), Girl Power Graffiti by @_kvich, Montmartre)

Let’s pedal push it up to Montmartre—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Let’s pedal push it up to Montmartre—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

By Theadora Brack

This week, I’d like to introduce you to one of my heroes: suffragette and writer Louise Weiss.

So grab your bicycle and helmet, and let’s get to pedal pushing up the Montmartre slopes to Abbesses—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground. It’s time to pay homage.

Traffic is heavy, but don’t fret yet. The autumn sun is still on our side of the rue.

As we round the butte, we spot the spot, close by Vincent Van Gogh’s former digs (at 54 rue Lepic). At the school just around the corner is where publicity maven Louise instigated one of her famously stormy powder puff battles.

Let’s prop our bikes up against the lamppost, and try to imagine the scene. (more…)

A Regal Run: Loping Through The Luxembourg

Let's re-charge the soul and soles with writer George Sand at the Jardin du Luxembourg (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s re-charge the soul and soles with writer George Sand at the Jardin du Luxembourg (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Fall Inspo: Why not rock the vote and head-to-toe grey with a splash of mustard? (Elle, 1951, T. Brack's collection)

Fall Inspo: Why not rock the vote and head-to-toe grey with a splash of mustard? (Elle, 1951, T. Brack’s collection)

By Theadora Brack

This week, for just one moment, let’s take a brief break from the news cycle and go for a jog in the park.

Personally, I can’t think of a finer way to re-charge and experience the City of Light’s past and present than kicking down the old cobblestone rues.

As writer George Sand once wrote, “Don’t jibe at the very wise advice that sentences you to one hour’s walk a day. You imagine the work of the mind takes place only in the brain; but you’re much mistaken. It takes place in the legs as well.”

I completely agree.

So grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg. Created with a Florentine twist by Queen Marie de Médici and gardening theorist Jacques Boyceau during the 17th century, it opened to the public in 1778.

Here, I’m not only able to run, but also mingle with the statues of French queens, saints, big cats, and writers. I’m hardly a martyr, or a monarch or a literary giant (yet!), but up my black Lycra sleeve I do have a few tips for a picture-perfect storybook run.

Let’s go!

Let's grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg

Let’s grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg

(more…)

Statue of Liberty: Where is the Love?

La Statue de la Liberté, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Let’s once again doff our “bachi” to my favorite Franco-American collaboration, the gigantesque statue of Lady Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in the New York harbor. Still looking fierce in her spiky nimbus (that’s right, mythically speaking, it’s not a crown) and matching floor length chiton in all its copper green tonalities.

This week, I’d also like to share four copies of my new favorite book about our iconic idol: Her Right Foot. Created by writer Dave Eggers and artist Shawn Harris in 2017, this illustrated Junior Library Guild selection revels in the history of the 151-foot-tall international shining star, from her four-foot nose down to her fast-grooving toes.

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

(more…)

Paris: Favorite Bench in the City

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Everybody’s got a favorite bench in the world. I’ve got mine, too. So this week, let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre. Here the unstoppable showstopper Dame Nature dresses to the nines—winter, spring, summer, and fall, and definitely at l’heure bleue. Slaying picture perfect moments as she works her 24-karat magic on the ancient buildings. Mine eye has seen the glory.

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L'Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L’Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

(more…)

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