New York: Fifth Avenue Window-Shopping Tour (Part 2)

30 Rock on Fifth Avenue Photos by Theadora Brack  (Original by Anne Simpkins for Harper’s Bazaar, September 1943)

Pretzel time at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street (Anne Simpkins, Harper’s Bazaar, September 1943)

By Theadora Brack

Let’s continue our window-shopping tour de force up Fifth Avenue. I’ll also include a few photographs taken by Anne Simpkins for Harper’s Bazaar in 1943. So grab your sunglasses, trainers and spare bills for salted pretzels and soda pops. Meet me at 30 Rock!

What’s new on the Avenue?

Here’s the squeal: Zara’s new flagship at 666 Fifth Avenue recently opened with a hi-tech, futuristic look, while Massimo Dutti will jump to Zara’s former 691 Fifth Avenue location. Meanwhile, the Elizabeth Arden Salon scooted to 663 Fifth Avenue, and MAC Cosmetics moved into E.A.’s former digs at 691 Fifth Avenue, across from the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Whew!

This is the very spa where Anaïs Nin wrote, “The church bells are ringing while I sit at Elizabeth Arden’s on Fifth Avenue with my face covered by a mask, and I almost come near God again.” Now that’s a beauty treatment!

1. Henri Bendel 712 5th Avenue (at 56th Street)

First stop! Henri Bendel and its “street of shops” made the Fifth Avenue scene in 1990. Now saddling two historic buildings (the Rizzoli Building and the Coty Building), classic French glass windows by René Jules Lalique were recently discovered during the redo. Commissioned by perfumer Francois Coty in 1908, don’t you dare walk by the three-story Art Nouveau masterpiece without a little glass gazing!

We have the late, great style icon (and store president for three decades) Geraldine Stutz to thank for giving Andy Warhol his first break when she hired him as a shoe illustrator. Stutz was also the first to feature European designers like Jean Muir and Sonia Rykiel.

Schiaparelli and Prada at Bergdorf Goodman

Fit for a king: Heck, even the Duke of Windsor shopped here! He also stored his New York wardrobe in the Bendel’s fur vault. Now that’s  regal service!

As Geraldine Stutz would often quip, “What is the difference between mere fashion and true style? Fashion says, me too. Style says, only me.”

2. Tiffany & Co. 727 5th Avenue (at 57th Street)

Golly, gee—glam! Get ready for your close-up because we’re approaching another sweet cinematic backdrop, perfect for your social media profile portraits. Created by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in 1837, Tiffany & Company made the big frog leap from 37th Street to 57th Street in 1940.

Here is where Holly Golightly bid farewell to the “mean reds,” while lingering over sticky buns and window-shopping. Fanatics of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” book and flick still pay homage, so you might have to wait in line for the picture-perfect shot.

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

Overlooking Central Park, Herman Bergdorf and Edwin Goodman’s flagship opened during the 1920s. This season its vitrines salute the “Schiaparelli & Prada, Impossible Conversations” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Meet my favorite designer. Mad about Dada and Surrealism, Elsa Schiaparelli worked with artists like Jean Cocteau, Dali, and Man Ray. A publicity maven, Schiaparelli would launch her collections with circus performances, complete with prancing elephants and daredevil tightrope walkers outside her “Schiap” shop at Place Vendôme in Paris, Oh, la la.

30 Rock (Anne Simpkins, Harper’s Bazaar, September 1943)

Film buffs: Do keep your eyes peeled also for the Plaza Hotel at 750 5th Avenue and Central Park South. Located next to Bergdorf Goodman, “The Way We Were” is just one of the many movies to feature the photogenic hotel.

Wiping away the salty tears in my eyes, “Yes, Hubbell, your girl is lovely!” Just thinking of the film gets me all emotional!

After a much-needed crying jag (and pretzel break) at the “Abundance” fountain, let’s now hotfoot it to Barneys. Rebounding just got easier!

4. Barneys New York 660 Madison Avenue (at 61st Street)

Come hither! After Haberdasher Barney Pressman pawned off his wife’s engagement ring for $500 (with her consent!) and forty discounted suits, he opened Barneys during the roaring twenties.

“No Bunk, No Junk, No Imitations” was his shop’s slogan! A cross between P.T. Barnum and Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., Barney hired barrel-clad gals to give away matchbooks stamped with the store’s logo and address. Talk about a store-wide campaign with legs!

Keep on strolling!

Now let’s wind it back with Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada at Bergdorf Goodman. Created by David Hoey, the surreal vitrines doff a “bachi” to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s springtime Costume Institute exhibition.

Pinching once again from “Schiap,”  “If the wind catches your hat and tantalizingly blows it farther and farther away, you must run quicker than the wind if you want to retrieve it!”

Okay, let’s get surreal!

50 thoughts on “New York: Fifth Avenue Window-Shopping Tour (Part 2)

  1. Wonderful blog as always Theodora. Would love to hear your opinion on the New York versus Parisian macaron! If you happen past a macaron cafe whilst you are on your travels!


    • Thanks for your kind words and assignment! I dig the mission. I’ll check out the new Ladurée sho. It’s located at 864 Madison Avenue (at 70th Street). Stay tuned! Theadora (I’m a huge fan of the black and white cookie. The perfect breakfast!!)


    • Thanks, Jess!! Geraldine Stutz was a character! Ruling the Henri Bendel roost for three decades, she also gave a helping hand to Perry Ellis, Mary McFadden, and Ralph Lauren—just to name a few more! Theadora (The René Lalique windows are amazing. You’d do a wonderful job photographing them!!)


      • Haha. Funny, that’s exactly the expression I’d have on my face if I were vaccuuming on 5th. And why does the part on the floor look suspiciously like a hat to wear on the beach or at a garden party? (And no interesting window displays as yet, but am back in London and will keep my eyes peeled)


  2. Who but Theadora would begin a tale of fashion and fifth avenue with a quote from Anais Nin. Indeed Theadora you are “A Spy In The House of Love”. You fling reflections of fashion at us as brilliant glass. Cutting edge. Surreal. Each photograph breathless with excitement. Every comment a whispered secret. You make my heart beat faster. Oswald loves it too.Virginia


    • Goodness. Gracious. Dear Virginia, your prose is such a treat to read. What a gift!! You always make me smile. Thank you for such a lovely passage!! Theadora (Sending big hugs to Oswald!!)


    • Goodness. Gracious. Dear Virginia, your prose is such a treat to read. You always make me smile. What a gift!! Thank you for such a lovely passage!! Theadora (Sending big hugs to Oswald!!)


    • Merci, Rhonda!! I adore vintage rags. I’m always on the hunt for them at the Fleas. It was fun to Mix ‘n Match! Theadora (Thanks also for your positive energy!!)


      • Oh you are welcome. No one can look through your window without finding something to smile about!


    • Thanks, Paul!! I always look forward to your thoughtful comments! Theadora (Catching the reflections of the buildings in Paris is tricky because the department stores usually have huge awnings or scaffolding. Have you tried? I plan to give it another shot.)


    • Merci!! I now on the hunt for more photography by Anne Simpkins. She worked for Harper’s Bazaar during the 1940s. I like her eye! Theadora (By the way, I loved the photograph of your tailor grandfather. So dashing!!)


      • Theadora, you have a nice word for everyone. So much positive energy! Big hug.


  3. I loved how the old photos and new images (yours) complemented each other–literally “reflecting” across the decades. I’m sure Roman tourists stood on the steps of the Greek Parthenon posed in exactly the same way as in that “Pretzel Time” shot, thousands of years ago. Human nature doesn’t change. Thanks for all your humanity in how you put this and all your other posts together. It’s always a breath of fresh air after a sleepless night.


  4. Love your New York Fifth Avenue photos, esp “#20” with the reflection of the coolest 1920s luxury hotel, the Sherry-Netherland in the Bergdorf’s window — layers of fashion and history, timeless, really. Thanks so much for liking my post and blog, too, a very nice complement coming from you.


    • Thank you, Gene!! By the way, I’m a big-time fan of your silent movie site. I dig your swell bio tagline: I’m the King of Silent Pictures . . . I’m just hidin’ out ’til talkies blow over. Parfait!! Theadora (I almost got to meet Lillian Gish at a silent movie night at the cathedral of Saint John the divine in New York. She canceled at the last minute because of illness. Ah, that would have been a dreamy evening!)


      • I’m glad you like my site, but I have to confess that my “tag” line is not original. In the 1965 film, “Mickey One,” Warren Beatty, playing a comic on the run and hiding from the mob, has a one-night stand with a woman who afterward pleads with him, “Who ARE you, Mickey One?” I adopted his exasperated response, one of my all-time favorite lines in movies.


  5. I love your window photos and fashions, Theadora. I’d wear them all, though I don’t have a place to wear the pouf dress of the previous post. So much fun to vicariously shop and view 5th Avenue, and so tastefully, with you. Love your write-up, too. Thank you! ~ Lily


    • Merci, Dana! Your “Woodstock Wardrobe” layouts are always spiffy!! I’ve been trying to track down the “Shop Around the Corner” flick. It looks fabulous. Thanks for the tip! I’m a huge Ernst Lubitsch, Margaret Sullavan, and Jimmy Stewart fan! Theadora


  6. Great post! You have such unique articles and a unique blog! It’s very interesting and informative. Having only visited New York once, I don’t know much about the city besides the major hot (shopping) spots. Love the pics in this post too!


    • Thank you, Molly!! I appreciate your kind words. Ah, I loved your recent nod to Audrey Hepburn. Her “looks” are timeless. Your shots of Charleston were also gorgeous. Enjoy the week! Theadora (Do you have any New York shopping tips?)


      • Well I’ve only been to New York once but I read a lot of blogs, websites, and magazines featuring New York shopping. SoHo is best for unique (but expensive!) finds and obviously 5th Avenue is the main fashion strip. H&M and Zara are my favorites for cheap, trendy items. Checkout for more info about shopping in NYC.


  7. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award again, thanks Spencer! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

    • Well, thank you!! I feel the same way about your funky-retro “Cat Walk Creative” site. Inspirational! I loved that velvet Ruffle Evening Gown by Bernshaw. Enjoy the week!! Theadora (Over the weekend, I scored a groovy pair of “Gina” shoes in green patent leather, circa 1960s. It was good day!)


  8. Pingback: New York: Fifth Avenue Window-Shopping Tour (Part 1) « People, Places and Bling!

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