Thursday, June 14, 2007

Recharging the ‘Battery’

As a transplanted upper East-sider now living downtown in Battery Park City, I find it especially interesting to witness what has become a bona fide rebirth of this historic area. Long associated with maritime and finance, it is being 'rediscovered' by world class, global fragrance and fashion houses.

Indeed, there have been signs of (fashion) life for quite some time. The top of Larry Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center, with its magnificent harbor and city views, has been used for fashionable parties and perfume launches (including one by Valentino), as well as a show venue by several menswear and womenswear designers. Not the least of whom is John Galliano, who recently staged his resort 2008 Dior fashion show in this space before a crowd of fashion and Hollywood luminaries.

And for the first time in its history, the Fragrance Foundation held its May 31st Fifi Awards at the massive all glass Winter Garden at the Financial Center. Speaking of fragrances, on Wednesday morning, Payot and Prada Beauty hosted a Beauty Breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park Spa, with its sweeping Statue of Liberty Views.

Add to the equation the trend of high end retailers setting up shop in the financial district. This October, Tiffany & Co. will open a 7600 square foot store at 37 Wall Street, (in a lovingly restored beaux arts style building which had been a former Trust Company of America headquarters). And that’s not all. According to www.fashionweekdaily, June 13, “in an effort to preserve the area’s natural history and original grandeur, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation will make three separate grants of $1 million each to three major downtown not-for-profit organizations: Friends of the High Line, The Battery Conservancy, and the New York Harbor Conservancy”.

And then there’s Hermes. The storied and venerable French house, which is synonymous with luxury, will soon unveil its brand new 4,000 square foot store at 15 Broad Street, located across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. On Thursday evening, June 21st, there will be a party to fete the opening.

So remarkable is this real estate coup (which is credited for bringing the “zing” of luxury to Wall Street) that the broker who is responsible for this deal, was honored at Tuesday night’s Retail Deal of the Year Awards celebration. The New York Post’s Lois Weiss (in Wednesday’s ‘Between the Bricks’ column) reported that Joel Isaacs of Isaacs and Company, “shepherded the God of Merchandising to 15 Broad Street to become the Deal That Most Significantly Benefits Manhattan.”

In the meantime, Hermes finds itself the much deserved center of attention these days. In the July Issue of Harper’s Bazaar, there was a 4 page montage like spread entitled, “The Secrets of Hermes” showing photos of fashion icons like Grace Kelly and Kate Moss carrying their prized Kelly and Birkin bags; Naomi Campbell showing off her orange Lindy bag; interviews with Jean Paul Gaultier, the creative director for the house since 2003 and Pierre Hardy who has been designing accessories, shoes and jewelry since 1988; and Queen Elizabeth wearing her Hermes scarf tied under her chin, as she is known to do.

Undoubtedly, nothing can beat the Hermes scarf in terms of its longevity and versatility. And therefore nothing is better for packing and traveling (which comes in handy during the summer months when many of us pack and go to parts unknown). The weightless silk square, regardless of color or pattern, can be used in a myriad of ways and can be called upon to make even the simplest and most basic clothes look new and fresh. You can wear it on your head (pirate style, turban style, or tied under the chin a la Queen Elizabeth), wrapped around your wrist, tied on the handle of your handbag/tote, or tied around your neck (long, short, or everything in between).

And finally, since I’m talking about Hermes, I just had to mention that perhaps the most inappropriate and ludicrous place to flaunt a Birkin Bag is in prison (of all places). Though this is precisely what Kathy Hilton did on Tuesday when she and hubby Rick paid a visit to daughter Paris behind bars. Clad in a classic white shirt and black pants, her enviable luggage colored Birkin (which looked brand new) was unquestionably a fabulously chic accessory. But since she had to surrender the costly and rather large item to prison security before entering, what was the point? How silly of me, she knew it would be a photo-op! And quite frankly, what would you expect of parents who want to celebrate the prison release of their daughter (serving time for violating parole of driving under the influence) by having one big party? Talk about inappropriate!

-- Marilyn Kirschner

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