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Friday, 3 June 2011

I'll take Manhattan!

It really was just too dull (after that wonderful wedding last month) to be sitting around Mannequin Towers moping about failing to catch the bouquet (that Chelsey has sharp elbows, I'll say)! My new beau METROpolitan man, sulked all the way home because Pippa didn't catch his eye at the reception: Well really, what did he expect, with half of Bougies in attendance!

To quell my boredom, I booked a flight to New York to do some retail research and bring you the latest news from the other side of the pond: and Who better qualified as commentator on all things shopping than I? (if only they would make it an Olympic sport, I'd be in with a gold medal chance next Summer)!

Lobby at The Ace Hotel
Staying mid-town, my common-room de jour
was the extremely fabulous Ace Hotel www.acehotel.com/newyork
On track (at 29th and Broadway) and on trend as the hottest room in Manhattan at present, the lobby was the epitome of cool, heaving with arty types blogging, skyping, coffeeing and generally checking each other out. This hub of urban connectivity has the best decorated rooms, 2 great restaurants, coffee shop supreme and two of the best new boutique concepts in NYC now (Project No.8 and Opening Ceremony). 


Graffiti walls at the beautifully decorated Ace Hotel

Upon arrival, I hit the ground running; spending four days strolling the streets, sauntering the sidwewalks and checking out...well the checkouts! So, here's my little take on Life in the Big Apple at present.

The most obvious trait Miss Mannequin noted straight off was the serious sting recession has left on the city. Empty shopfronts in previously busy areas alarmed and this I guess is further exacipated by the development of online retail. Conversely, I saw newer retail areas that were positively thriving: lower rents, creative retail concepts and plenty of trendy eateries all contributed. Much like London, the spread of must-see areas sprawls ever wider across Manhattan (and indeed out over the bridges) in a series of connected villages, each a piece of the retail action.

Madison Square Gardens

Interestingly, NYC has never struck me as being a laid back, stress free kind of place. this trip, I was struck by the bike lanes! Yes really...200 miles of them, in prep for a proposed public bike scheme which could start as early as Spring 2012. Secondly, divided off section of avenues, furnished with (alarmingly green) cafe tables and chairs caught my eye. People loved it...they socialised in the sunshine, chatting and laughing and not looking particularly eager to jump for the clock! Was this really clockwatching, time is money New York? This air of laid-backness was further enhanced by the sheer amount of urban art and plantings! Giant coloured metal roses appeared to blow along Park Avenue, a serene elongated head was parked centre of Madison Square Gardens, the Highline (a repurposed train track above the meatpacker district) buzzed with urban sunbathers and small children pic-nicing with their parents! Miss Mannequin was impressed.  

The HighLine - a whole new world above the Meatpacker District
Back in retail-land the stores were far from busy in the traditional old school shopping areas. Staff were uber-attentive and there was not an afternoon that passed where (almost in a synchronised action) wine and cupcakes where whipped out from under a counter at 3pm on the dot. I chanced upon five such parties in three days! I had the impression that an by 5pm the streets would be filled with tipsy women staggering home loaded with totally inappropriate purchases!

Tomorrow I shall give you the Uptown retail round-up and tell you about my trip to the MET (for the Alexander McQueen Retrospective).

until then good evening...or as i believe they say in New York, Hang Loose Dude!

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