Through the years I have becomeaccustomed to navigating the streets of New York with a friend, husband or client. I recently had a day to rediscover this amazing city by myself. The plan was to see as much as I could in a six hour period starting with the wholesale district, then working my way back up to Central Park. I was armed with fingerless gloves, fur aviator hat, leggings and my iPhone. The November weather was clear and crisp and cabs were hard to hail, so I opted to walk.
As I headed down 7th Avenue I came across tributes to the area's history—the fashion and garment districts date back to the 1920's. The Garment Worker, 1984, is a life-sized bronze sculpture by Judith Weller, depicting an immigrant man at a sewing machine. The Fashion Center Kiosk, designed by Pentagram Architectural Services was awarded the 1995 Art Commission Award for Public Architecture. The giant needle and threaded button were built in 1995 as part of the Fashion Center. The Claes Oldenburg-inspired sculpture has a 31 foot long needle and the world's largest button. As I stood at the corner of 39th and 7th I saw large circles in the pavement that were part of the Fashion Walk of Fame, highlighting fashion stars such as Donna Karan, Pauline Trigere, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Betsy Johnson. My iPhone gave me insight into the history of the tributes and how they were funded.
My experience with New York during the holiday season is that they don't rush it. The week before Thanksgiving a lot of the windows were dark or being redesigned. Rockefeller Center and the 74 foot Norway spruce still had scaffolding surrounding them in preparation for the 30,000 LED lights and Swarovski crystal star that would not be illuminated until the week after Black Friday.
My visits included Norma Kamali, Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman, all on or near 5th Avenue. Kamali has been a favorite of mine since the early 80's. Her Multi-level flagship store was all about white, from the marble walls and floors and alabaster furniture to the goddess-like mannequins. Her distinctive style extends to a new Wellness Café that offers an escape from the noise of New York with a continuation of a white reflective environment, sounds of the beach and the scents of olive, citrus and florals. Offerings include teas, olive oil cupcakes, lavender bread and fresh popped popcorn with olive oil and sea salt.
Henri Bendel is a must for accessory-crazed fashionistas with 4 floors of jewelry, scarves, handbags, lingerie, and a beauty central. One eager salesperson pounced on me, wanting to show me some new revolutionary age reversing product. Before I knew it, my face had been lathered with creams and serums, while a mirror was produced so I could see instantly how much younger I looked. Luckily my phone rang and gave me the opportunity to escape another layer of shine and a $500 price tag.
Of all the windows in NYC, Bergdorf Goodman's are by far the best, representing the highest level of visual merchandising. I watched as the window artists were making the final arrangements to displays that were whimsical and told a story. I was famished and my iPhone directed me to lunch at Bergdorf 's 7th floor, a gorgeous French-style restaurant with views of Central Park.
Dining by yourself can be awkward; you can only look at the menu for so long. As I waited for mango curry chicken salad and glass of sparkling wine, my iPhone proved to be quite entertaining. I processed email and text messages and blogged and tweeted, bought tickets for a Broadway show and updated my Facebook page. It’s much more fun to have a real person to share New York with, but sometimes me, myself and iPhone can be great company.