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The New Kid on the Block

May 29, 2020

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If there is one thing that cannot be ignored when one walks around Manhattan these days, it’s this: all the vacant stores – even on the posh Upper East Side. And yes, it’s all because of Amazon. Need I say more?

BUT THEN: ALONG COMES NORDSTROM and guess what? A brand new flagship store emerges in Manhattan that is featuring Christian Louboutin’s 30-odd-piece collection of his famous red sole shoes, travel accessories, handbags and even snow globes. All of this is installed in a tent-like structure rising to a 20 ft. ceiling in the middle of the store’s main floor.

Christian Louboutin’s vertiginous new stiletto is called “The Bagneuse” and is $995 – it boasts a strap enlivened with spiky metallic pyramids – nearby, another pair features pyramids printed on a silky foulard to wrap around an alluring ankle

LOCATED AT 57TH STREET & BROADWAY

This is definitely not anywhere near Manhattan’s chic Upper East Side but that’s no concern of Pete Nordstrom, a fourth-generation member of the retail family and co-president of the empire that bears his name. He insists that planning for seven years, spending a small fortune and building a 320,000-square-foot edifice that is part new construction and part careful restoration of three historic buildings is the right move at the right time.

In an interview with Lynn Yaeger that appeared in Vogue magazine’s October 2019 issue Nordstrom says, “New York is probably the most important shopping destination in the world, so it’s hard to imagine that we wouldn’t want to be here!” But what about the fact that people are buying more and more online and visiting actual shops less and less? Nordstrom disputes this and insists that having a physical presence actually drives online business.

“IT’S A LITTLE SCARY, BUT IN A GOOD WAY.”

This is how Nordstrom sums up the whole situation. And he may be 100% right because this store is very special. It will offer many fashion luminaries and, get this: it has four restaurants and two bars. The company is also opening at least two satellite shops that they call Nordstrom Local on the Upper East Side and the West Village. At these spots one will be able to accept merchandise that was ordered from Nordstrom online.

NOW IT’S TIME FOR A CLOSE-UP LOOK

It’s one thing to read about a store, it’s a totally different experience to visit there. But I decided to bite the bullet and check out the store for myself on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. When I walked in the first thing I expected to see (based on my research) was their Christian Louboutin showstopper. But guess what? It wasn’t the famous red-soled shoes – it was fashionable Fendi! After talking to several staff members I learned that this display rotates famous fashion names on a regular basis. Christian Louboutin was now on the second floor.

Christian Louboutin (right) currently has a show until July 26 at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris that was curated by Musée des Arts Décoratifs director Olivier Gabet (left) – also, a sketch of the Pensée shoe from Louboutin’s Fall 1992 collection – Courtesy of Bazaar, March 2020

Christian Louboutin is an adventurer who loves Egypt and owns a supremely chic houseboat on the Nile - Courtesy of Vogue magazine, October 2019

THE STORE HAS FIVE FLOORS AND TWO LOWER LEVELS

This means that one has seven floors to explore – while having a choice of four restaurants and two bars. The overall appearance of Nordstrom is a lot of super-colorful merchandise set against ultra-white walls with massive white pillars and high ceilings. It all works beautifully.

On floors three and four you’ll find the handsome two-storey Broadway Bar that was closed for a private event when I was there. After seeing all the goodie bags lined up I decided to check back later to see how this party was doing – it was rockin’ – let me tell you.

On the fifth floor I came upon the Bistro Verde restaurant and decided to try their White Chocolate Bread Pudding with raspberries and whipped cream – absolutely delicious. I also stopped by the Hani Pacific restaurant on Level 2 where the hostess told me that the menu is Pan-American with a Hawaiian Twist. Believe me, you’ll never starve while shopping at Nordstrom!

After leaving Nordstrom I decided to walk east, drop into Bergdorf Goodman, go up to their seventh floor – my favorite in the store – and take a look (among other things) at their BG Restaurant. Guess what? It was closed for a private party.  I guess Tuesday night is becoming a great night to have fun!

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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