Many travellers get sucked in by the gravity of the city’s various high streets – namely, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue and lately, the increasingly popular Meatpacking District, home to brands like AllSaints, Vince and Diane von Furstenburg (who basically coined the All-American wrap dress).
For those who want to walk on a wilder side, however, there’s Laura Solin-Valdina (also known as NYCSTYLIST), fashion stylist to Manhattan socialites like Diana Taylor (Michael Bloomberg’s long-time partner) and Wall Street CEOs. Solin-Valdina’s everyday job is to sift through the clutter of New York boutiques to find quality clothing and shopping experiences that only a New Yorker would know about.
Here, Solin-Valdina gives Billy an insider’s look at off-the-beaten path retailers and the street style trends in key New York neighborhoods.
Upper East Side
Watch women walk down the picturesque, tree-lined streets of the Upper East Side and you’ll notice a pattern: fitted mini dresses are paired with boxy, cropped jackets (tailored, of course) and chunky stacked heels. “And to complete that look you definitely need a small-sized cross-body purse, which is very on trend right now,” Solin-Valdina says.
Tucked away on 69th Street between Madison Avenue and Fifth is Fivestory, a hyper-curated boutique of women’s ready-to-wear clothing, shoes and accessories from designers including Alexander Wang, Carolina Herrera and Celine. With a shoe department that measures 10-by-10 feet and a hand-picked selection of handbags, shoppers are likely to find their one of a kind – whether it be a statement cropped jacket, pair of leather ankle boots or a patterned crossbody – here.
Meanwhile, no trip to the Upper East Side is complete without the traditional brownstone shopping experience. Find classic yet cool women’s everyday line Veronica Beard at 988 Madison Ave. where sisters-in-law Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard opt out of the boxy atmosphere of most clothing stores. Instead, they show their line at an apartment, and shoppers feel like they’re like they’ve been invited to a friend’s home.
Garment District and Kips Bay
“The common element between the Garment District and Kips is that they are home to a lot of the fashion and design schools. In the Garment District, on the west side of town, you have the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Parsons School of Design, and on the east side, you have the School of Visual Arts,” explains Solin-Valdina. “They’re both areas where you can let loose and try anything. Some things look good, and some things don’t but creativity is definitely appreciated.”
Think: eccentric designs, unexpected pops of colour and bold accessories. “It could be a classic jacket with an exaggerated shoulder pad or a shoe with an exaggerated bow of some sort,” Solin-Valdina states.
For two retailers that epitomize the creative nature of each district, take Bene Rialto (Garment District) and Dover Street Market (Kips Bay). The former, just around the corner from Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, is a five-floor townhouse, experiential event space and fashion accelerator for emerging local designers. In Bene Rialto’s retail marketplace, you’ll find everything from chunky, bright-red bangles made by independent jewellery designer Ona Chan to gender-neutral totes by Ro Bags.
New York’s Dover Street Market, (which has sister locations in London, Ginza and Beijing) meanwhile, is part fashion-art gallery, part luxury retailer. Brands like Gucci, J.W. Anderson Men’s and Raf Simons create capsule collections for the store that you can’t find anywhere else.