Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Department Store Wars!

One thing which New York does not lack is department stores. Depending on how flexible a definition is used, the total is at the very least five or six. The cream of the crop are the 3 Bs - Bloomingdales, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman. These are all enviably situated within striking distance of each other.
Bloomingdales offers both the widest range and the biggest floor space of the three (unless you count Bergdorf's menswear shop with the womenswear shop). It would take several trips to fully explore. Items range from cheaper, diffusion lines and youth brands to the most expensive designer items. Bloomingdales is best for basics, such as magnificent hosiery and lingerie departments and t-shirts and casual wear. Also of note is the plus size department. This will be a revelation for larger ladies used to shopping in England: not only is there more choice and everything is cheaper but you'll find you take a smaller size too. Visit Bloomingales Soho branch for an easier shopping experience. This store is smaller and combines the best of Bloomingdales's younger, trendier lines.
The trendiest of the New York department stores, Barneys was always being menitoned on Sex And The City, for good reason. Barneys' buyers have sought out the most cutting edge designers and hard to find lines, for example Trovata as well as more established name. The shop is well fitted - huge white spaces which make the clothes the stars. Furthermore, Barneys, if not small, is compact. You can get through the whole place easily. The shoe department is renowned and indeed offers a magnificent selection. However, for me, it is a close call with Bergdorf Goodman. Barney's shoe department offers a wider range and, in keeping with the shop's ethos, more cutting edge designers. Also of note at Barneys is the restaurant, Fred's. London department store dining has nothing on either Barneys or Bergdorf's eateries. Fred's is a place to see and be seen buit also offers and wide ranging, extremely resonable menu in chic surroundings.
Bergdorf Goodman
Magnificent architecturally, Bergdorf Goodman exudes old fashioned elegance. The emphasis here is on the higher end designers, although there is a floor of "younger designs" for more affordable collections. This is a place which has a whole section devoted to evening dresses of the highest order. The shoe department is sublime, with masses of Louboutins, Alaias and a dedicated Blahnik department. Accessories on the ground floor (floor 1 American) is also well worth a visit, with a great range and some unusual items (Zac Posen handbags). The restaurant, BG, offers sublime views of the park and manageable, delicious portions.

Also well worth a look is the tiny Henri Bendel on 5th, which is distinguished by the Frederic Fekkai salon it houses, a collection of own label jumpers in many colors and styles, and an innovative jewellery section.

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