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March 30, 2010

New York: Uptown

Shopping, dining and design


Ouest

Food lovers abhor a gastronomic vacuum. For proof, you need only witness the crowds that rush into Ouest, on the quality-deprived Upper West Side. That they do so is a tribute to chef Tom Valenti, whose lusty, straightforward food I have loved at Alison on Dominick Street, Cascabel, and Butterfield 81. Let's hope he's here to stay in this huge, multilevel new home that has the crowded, leathery look of an old-style bar and grill—never mind the tightfitting banquettes.

The hustle and bustle around the open kitchen seems to suit the rugged fare. The parchment-like smoked duck breast topped by a crisply fried poached egg and bitter greens, a pork terrine encrusted with mustard and a turnover stuffed with goat cheese and Portobello mushrooms are starters. Main courses include roast halibut cushioned on white bean purée, gamy and juicy squab on a rich tomato risotto, short ribs on creamy polenta with onions and mushrooms, and simple, perfectly rosy lamb chops dotted with roast garlic cloves.

Properly crunchy biscotti make the simplest dessert. More elaborate alternatives are the soothing fruit crisps, chocolate cake with a scoop of banana ice cream and a sliver of peanut brittle, and the almond financier served with lemon ice cream. $100. 2315 Broadway, New York, NY 10024; 212-580-8700.

— Mimi Sheraton


Standard Bearer

Head straight to BARNEYS for one of the largest and most complete selections of tailored men's clothing in Manhattan. It has the most styles, fabrics, and labels (and a vast array of accessories, from ascots to footwear).

This, too, is the only place in the world where you will find superbly crafted Battistoni suits, except of course for Battistoni's own store in Rome. Handmade with haute Roman styling—a cleaner-looking, higher shoulder and armhole, slim sleeves, and virgate body—these fine worsted and flannel suits are models of sophistication, right down to their boat-shaped chest pocket. Priced from $2,000.

— G. Bruce Boyer

AND FOR THE WOMEN . . . Two glass vitrines at Barneys' Madison Avenue entrance display the wearable artworks of Japanese-born conceptual artist Kazuko, who creates pendants, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and pins. Held in a free-form cage of gold wire, her crystal amulets are, quite literally, rocks—quartz, coral, pyrite (fool's gold), Tibetan turquoise—some polished, some left au naturel. The pieces are collected by Bianca Jagger and Gloria Vanderbilt, among others. $195-$4,000. Barneys, 660 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022; 212-826-8900.

— Julia Szabo


Beautiful Things

COSE BELLE is the label on a collection of women's clothing designed by Shannon McLean, who works out of a private atelier just down the street from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McLean is the 21st century's answer to Hattie Carnegie: She's a custom dressmaker to uptown society belles seeking a uniform of timeless refinement. Her perfectly cut dresses, suits, eveningwear and bridal gowns boast such details as narrow shoulders, half-belts, and high, fitted armholes. Possessed of a modern glamour, these clothes also have a real sense of fun: cashmere trousers with playful bell-bottoms, mod hound's-tooth fabrics, or the Holly Golightly cocktail suit ($1,500). $350-$5,000. 7 East 81st St., New York, NY 10128; 212-988-4210.

— J.S.


L'Hotel Francais

Perhaps it was the perfectly dressed Frenchwoman with her perfectly behaved dog in the marble, muraled lobby of the HOTEL PLAZA ATHENEE that had me rethinking my sense of place. But the truth is that this intimate hotel tucked away on one of the Upper East Side's finest brownstone-lined blocks does feel European and discreet.

Decorated with overstuffed couches, dining room tables, and refreshingly un-hotellike paintings and prints, the suites (many of which were recently renovated), seem like smartly done-up pieds-à-terre. Best of all are the red and gold duplex penthouses, which have the largest terraces. The hotel also has a stellar Sunday brunch in the renamed and redecorated restaurant Arabelle. $440-$3,600. Brunch, $100. 37 East 64th St., New York, NY 10021; 800-447-8800, 212-734-9100; www.plaza-athenee.com.

— Laurie Werner


The Perfectly Made Bed

One of life's real joys is owning the finest-quality bed linen. How about something in the 550 to 700 thread-count range, meticulously made in Florence of choice Egyptian cotton?

Should you agree, acquaint yourself with CITTADINI LINENS, whose elegant owner, Margaret Ann Cittadini, has had a lifelong passion for linens, stemming from her Florentine roots. She works out of her Upper East Side townhouse. By appointment only. Sets, $400-$1,000. More expensive sets feature lace and embroidery. 171 East 62nd St., New York, NY 10021; 212-756-8781.

— M.L. Latiolais


That Perfect Gift

Opened originally in 1934 and still family-run, SCULLY & SCULLY is known for its home furnishings and distinctive gifts (maybe the bone china floral napkin ring $40). Featuring specialty manufacturers whose products are rarely seen elsewhere, Scully & Scully fills an important niche for the discerning buyer. The Park Avenue store is designed as a series of galleries, each of which enables the customer to envision how a particular item will look in the home.

The store's wedding registry is superb, but perhaps best of all is its extensive collection of fine hand-painted Herend porcelain (but then, I must confess, I am an inveterate collector). Beyond the Rothschild Bird (salad plate, $220, and dinner plate, $110) and Queen Victoria patterns, Scully & Scully has virtually every animal (have you seen the new ostrich?) in exquisite colors such as green, rust, blue, butterscotch, raspberry, lavender, and black. 504 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022; 212-755-2590; www.scullyscully.com.

— M.L.L

PAUL & SHARK is the Italian sportswear store that specializes in nautical designs, such as a heavy wool sweater in navy and bright cotton shirts and slacks.

The Scoop photojournalist's parka merits special notice. There's never been a coat with more pockets—for pens, film (exposed and unexposed), cell phone, exposure meter, even an additional rain poncho. All in lightly padded waterproof cotton Typhoon 20,000 cloth ($1,020). What better protection against the slings and arrows of outrageous weather? 772 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-452-9868.

— G.B.B.


Stellar Skincare

What's Ling Chan's secret beauty formula for clients like Madonna, Winona Ryder, and Carly Simon? The owner of the three Manhattan LING SKIN CARE SALONS (West Side, Union Square, and SoHo) fuses Chinese botanicals with cosmetic science (oxygen plasma, hyaluronic acid, and alpha hydroxys).

Favorite treatments include the Ginseng Herbal Facial ($135) and the Green Tea Soft Mask ($40), which helps reduce puffiness and control break-outs. (A practicing Buddhist, Chan applies facial concoctions by hand and uses a jade roller which Asians believe has healing properties—if nothing else, it's pleasantly cool on the skin.) Many fans simply drop in for a monthly brow-shaping with her luscious honey wax ($30). If you don't have time to visit the salons, you can always mail-order the products ($30-$150). 105 West 77th St., New York, NY 10024; 212-877-2883. 12 East 16th St., New York, NY 10003; 212-989-8833. 128 Thompson St., New York, NY 10012; 212-982-8833.

— Shane Mitchell


World of Interiors

Anyone familiar with great English country estates will experience a comforting wave of recognition upon entering LANGHAM & COMPANY (despite its inglorious location opposite the loading docks of Bloomingdale's), a 4,000-square-foot showroom with a soaring vaulted ceiling. Bright, clear color palettes and exacting attention to English aesthetics exemplify the Langham look.

Beyond the splendid antiques, mirrors, lighting, and assorted bibelots, you'll find Langham's own line of sumptuously proportioned upholstered furniture. It's made to your specifications using the highest standards (hardwood frames, hand-tied spring seats with burlap webbing, double-stuffed backs with hair beneath down pads, 80/20 down-and-feather cushions). 153 East 60th St., New York, NY 10022; 212-759-7979.

— M.L.L.


Choice Handbags

With impeccable personal service and an inviting ambiance, the intimate ANYA HINDMARCH boutique (29 East 60th St., New York, NY 10021; 212-750-3974) is a welcome respite from the larger stores that dot Madison Avenue and SoHo. Hindmarch, a London-based designer, creates handmade bags that have become a symbol of the modern urban sophisticate, ranging in style from classical to fanciful.

One of the line's seasonal bestsellers is the smart, rectangular Ebury ($1,010), a five-compartment pigskin-lined shoulder bag in an exclusive Italian leather called Abrasivato. Pop-art-inspired beaded creations ($520) and chic calf-leather totes ($685-$795) are also popular. The sales staff here are among the friendliest to be found in New York.

A few other stores to keep in mind for top-of-the-line bags are: Destination (32-36 Little West 12th St.; 212-727-2031) for elegant gallery-quality designs; Jamin Puech (252 Mott St.; 212-334-9730) for beaded, embroidered, and woven styles; and, of course, Kate Spade (454 Broome St.; 212-274-1991) for this wildly successful designer's complete line.

— Kim Balin


Anglo All Around

Everyone knows that any POLO store is an ideal place to find essentials like khakis, oxford button-downs, and crew-neck sweaters. But only Ralph Lauren's flagship store on Madison Avenue carries the full line of Blue and Purple Label clothing, furnishings, sportswear, and shoes—not to mention some of the handsomest antique men's jewelry anywhere. The singular American and English pieces from the 1910-1940s period fit in perfectly with the store's Anglo-American sartorial approach and ambiance. It offers truly one-of-a-kind items, such as an American Art Deco 14-karat-gold-filled tie bar ($120); ca. 1920s American cuff links in sterling silver and pearl enamel ($275); and a ca. 1915 American pocket watch with its original face in a white-gold engraved case with a 1920s English sterling silver chain ($750 for the watch, $300 for the chain); as well as a selection of wrist watches and other shirt jewelry. 867 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-606-2100.

— G.B.B.


Zen Treatments

You'll pass ZENDO SHOBO-JI, a traditional Japanese Zen monastery, a dozen times before finding it (unless you bump into one of the robed monks leaving the 19th-century brick townhouse on a shopping expedition). But then again, that's the point: You're supposed to search for enlightenment.

On Thursday evenings, cross the threshold and attend an orientation for beginning zazen, or sitting meditation. The monks will teach you proper breathing and posture. You can also join a walking meditation (kinhin) that winds through the zendo, past shoji screens, a shrine to Buddha, and traditional ikebana floral arrangements. If this whets your appetite for more Zen, sign up for a weekend retreat at the Catskills outpost, Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji. 223 East 67th St., New York, NY 10021; 212-861-3333; www.zenstudies.org.

— S.M.


Classic Slippers

Customers come back again and again for STUBBS & WOOTTON's beautifully handmade velvet slippers. There are only five colors—navy, bottle green, black, beaver brown, and wine—but some 50 decorative variations, including palm trees, martini glasses, the sun and moon, several dog designs, frogs, dice, cards—and devils ($200).

Stubbs also does delicious slippers in needlepoint ($165) and antique paisley ($325), as well as silk, wool tartan, and leather ($165-$200). Custom slippers with your monogram start at $400. 22 East 72nd St., New York, NY 10021; 212-249-5200; www.stubbsandwootton.com.

— G.B.B.


Naga Antiques, Ltd.

It's as close as you can get to the meditative calm of a Kyoto temple yet still be in Manhattan. Occupying two floors of a brownstone, with a serene Japanese garden in the back, Naga Antiques offers an exceptional inventory of Japanese objects, sculpture, ceramics, and furniture.

Probably best known for specializing in early Japanese screens, the gallery does screen restoration as well. In business for over 30 years, owner James Marinaccio has established an invaluable resource. 1 145 East 61st St., New York, NY 10021; 212-593-2788.

— M.L.L.


Pillow Talk

Marjorie Lawrence has done business at THE PILLOWRY for 30 years, and she creates fabulous one-of-a-kind pillows for any smart environment—classic or contemporary.

To cover these pillows, Lawrence and her husband, Robert, have collected all sorts of carpet fragments and textiles from their extensive travels: kilims from Iran, Turkey, and the Caucasus; dhurries from India and Afghanistan; Navajo rugs from the American Southwest; Aubussons from France; as well as embroideries, silks, and damasks. She will also custom-make pillows with an exacting eye for detail. She can work from your fabrics, paint, and wallpaper to coordinate with your interior design needs. $50-$3,000. $ By appointment only: 212-308-1630.

— M.L.L.


Edited Antiques

Working out of his East Side house and catering to a small and select group of designers, clients with boldface names, and fellow dealers, R. LOUIS BOFFERDING has—and happily shares—vast expertise in the decorative arts, intertwined with an extensive knowledge of European social history. If you are serious about highly edited, top-quality pieces of well-documented provenance, Bofferding is a precious source.

This dealer's specialty is furniture designed by prominent 20th-century decorators like Elsie de Wolfe, Syrie Maugham, Stéphane Boudin from the House of Jansen (who worked closely with Jacqueline Kennedy on the White House rooms), and Louis Süe of Süe et Mare. $ By appointment only: 212-744-6725.

— M.L.L.


Italian Menswear

The Italian haberdasher DAVIDE CENCI, who has stores in Rome and Milan as well as New York, is known for his classic yet unique items. The firm specializes in clothing and accessories designed and made especially to its own specifications. This season, for example, it offers a buttery-soft silk-and-cashmere corduroy suit for casual wear (in two- or three-button front, $1,800) and a three-quarter-length wool-cashmere town coat lined in featherweight shearling ($1,375).

Cenci also does a range of sleek matte-finish calfskin goods by Florentine artisans in glorious chocolate and burnt orange. These include briefcases and travel pouches, wallets, business-card holders, and organizers. The three-gusset attaché case ($850) is lined in pigskin and has a special security lock, as well as pockets for pens, cards, and other paraphernalia. It's the perfect business bag. 801 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 800-528-2515; 212-628-5910; www.davidecenci.com.

— G.B.B.


Custom Frames

Founded in 1907, JULIUS LOWY FRAME & RESTORING COMPANY immediately became, and remains to this day, New York's leading resource for antique and custom reproduction frames, as well as for conservation of paintings and works on paper. These days, Lowy clients include museums, galleries, and corporate and private collectors.

Two things in particular make art owners applaud: more than 4,000 antique frames (from the 16th through the 20th century) and a system called LowyScan Virtual Framing that lets clients "try on" a frame before buying to see how it will look with their work. 223 East 80th St., New York, NY 10021; 212-861-8585.

— M.L.L.


Sumptuous Cashmere

The name LORO PIANA belongs to one of Italy's premier textile families, and the store is a showcase for its line of luxury fabrics, as well as a line of urbane clothing. The firm's reputation is based strongly on fine cashmere, so there is everything here from delightful little quilted slippers to handsome sweaters and sports jackets. Not to mention bolts of cashmere and merino for custom-made clothing.

Most interesting is a completely wind- and water-repellent cashmere hip-length jacket with detachable hood ($2,195). 821 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-980-7961.

— G.B.B.

WARREN EDWARDS does all sorts of classic men's shoes, but his specialty is the low-vamp, comfortable, casually distinctive slip-on. This hand-stitched shoe with ornament comes in brown and black calfskin, but it's the made-to-order selection that truly shines: 40 colors in ostrich, alligator, crocodile, lizard, and stingray—yes, stingray. Even the soles of these shoes are burnished to a fine glow. $650-$2,400. 107 East 60th St., New York, NY 10022; 212-223-4374.

— G.B.B.


Blue Chip 20th-Century Design

A trip to the chic LIZ O'BRIEN gallery will open your eyes and mind to some exciting decorating possibilities. If the clean, spare lines of 20th-century design are your pleasure, revel in furniture from such giants as T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Samuel Marx, Tommi Parzinger, Diego Giacometti, and Billy Haines. The carefully chosen pieces, along with a competent and knowledgeable staff, will expand your design vocabulary. 800A Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-755-3800.

— M.L.L.


Great Bordeaux

While the selection at SHERRY-LEHMANN, which has been a part of the Manhattan landscape for nearly 70 years, is global, their muscle is Bordeaux. From first-growths on down and half-bottles on up, Sherry-Lehmann has it. Really, what could make your dinner guests happier than an Imperial bottle of 1985 Château Mouton Rothschild? I ask you: Who needs auctions? 679 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-838-7500; www.sherry-lehmann.com.

— Alice Feiring


French Arts

Specializing in early-20th-century French furniture, lighting, and decorative arts, L'ART DE VIVRE has captured a solid clientele in its 15 years in business. Owners Charles and Patricia Fuller spend at least three months a year in France, returning with unique pieces that exude refinement (like a pair of 1940s moderne mahogany chairs, $20,000).

L'Art de Vivre's selection of French lighting from the '30s and '40s, with its varied use of material and innovative design, is considered superb on both sides of the Atlantic. $ 978 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-734-3510.

— M.L.L.


Preppy Chic

The impression one gets of the pocket-sized JAY KOS is of an Anglo-American campus shop tweaked by a fine Italian hand. For example, Kos stocks cream-colored cable-knit tennis sweaters trimmed in an array of purples, reds, and oranges never seen on the courts of Wimbledon. There are fine cotton spread-collar dress shirts enlivened with bold checks, and colorful hosiery bearing horizontal stripes and polka dots.

This season the most popular items are corduroy trousers in wide, narrow, and horizontal wales (the wide wales are $195), in grass green, mint, bright yellow, orange, pink, red, sand, and peacock blue. Cut on the slim side and plain-fronted, they're perfect with a tweed jacket and a pair of chukka boots. 986 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-327-2382.

— G.B.B.

BERETTA has been manufacturing hunting guns since the 15th century and outfitting hunters in the chicest of sporting clothes for the past 15 years. Of particular note from this Italian firm: Polarfleece gloves; Le Chameau leather-lined rubber boots; canvas-and-leather travel bags, gun cases, and knapsacks; and a line of cotton-twill safari jackets and pants. Beretta's signature parka is in heavy-duty abrasion-resistant Cordura nylon ($475). 718 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-319-3235.

— G.B.B.


Keep an Eye On

Power. Glamour. Discretion. Once you pass through the doors of THE CARLYLE hotel into the lobby, with its antiques, tapestries, and gleaming black-and-white marble floors, you know you've arrived. Unfortunately, in recent years the rooms upstairs have begun to look more than a bit dated. But that should all change in the coming months, thanks to a refurbishment by The Carlyle's new owner, Rosewood Hotels. 35 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021; 888-767-3966, 212-744-1600; www.rosewoodhotels.com.

— L.W.


Luxe Neckwear

All blond wood, beige walls, and minimalist decor, ROBERT TALBOTT specializes in luxury neckwear and shirts arrayed in sleek wooden bureaus and lined up on simple display tables. This top-of-the-line company has been making the finest-quality neckwear for over 50 years, and every season it produces hundreds of new designs. These range from prints and woven silks to lightweight cashmeres, including their famous Seven-Fold Collection.

Bow ties, from sophisticated micro-hound's-tooth checks to bold stripes, are a specialty. And where else can you find them custom-made? Talbott stocks hundreds of fabrics, which can be sized to your specifications and transformed into the shape of your choice, be it a narrow batwing or a wide butterfly model. 680 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-751-1200.

— G.B.B.


Neoclassical Treasures

On the parlor floor of an Upper East Side townhouse, LEE CALICCHIO specializes in Neoclassical furnishings and is a resource for many of the top decorators in the field. Exemplary English, Continental, and Baltic pieces complement the predominantly French collection here. Beyond the large mirrors, elegant chairs, substantial tables, handsome screens, and other solidly scaled pieces, one will discover a number of objets d'art, side and cocktail tables, porcelain lamps, and decorative boxes. $ 134 East 70th St., New York, NY 10021; 212-717-4417.

— M.L.L.


Centolire

The most surprising thing about Centolire, the newest venture by restaurateur Pino Luongo (whose previous hits included Le Madri and Coco Pazzo), is that we haven't heard much about it. Smartly laid out in a duplex, Centolire has a sophisticated downstairs area and a spacious, pastel-bright upstairs with a benign sound level.

The restaurant features traditional and modern riffs on many Italian specialties. Dishes marked with a coccio, or crock, are baked, sometimes under Tuscan bread. The most successful is the main-course fish-and-seafood stew, cioppino. Two well-executed old-world-style pastas are the timpano (an eggplant-covered dome enclosing penne, tomato, tiny meatballs, eggs, and mozzarella) and the spaghetti alla chitarra (with meatballs, peas, and mushrooms). Lemon-zest lamb chops nestled beside fried polenta and a slab of veal Milanese under arugula salad are delectable main courses.

For dessert, try the exotic pichi pachi (chocolate mousse under caramelized eggplant) or the torta della nonna (custard and fruits layered onto sponge cake). $110. 1167 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10028; 212-734-7711.

— M.S.


Buttons On Parade

When asked how many buttons are actually on site at TENDER BUTTONS, owner Millicent Safro answers, "Let's just say millions, and leave it at that."

Inside the tidy, narrow brick townhouse (ca. 1854) you will find button paradise. For starters, there are genuine horn buttons in about 200 different styles, from the extra-large ones that are perfect for your polo coat to those that are smaller and more delicate. There are mother-of-pearl buttons in every conceivable size and thickness, buttons from George Washington's inauguration and the Civil War. The list goes on: hand-painted 18th-century French buttons, 19th-century English hunt buttons, Japanese Satsuma buttons, Fabergé buttons.

But the most outstanding collection may be the one comprising 500-plus blazer buttons—plain and patterned, with insignia or monogram, in pewter, brass, gilt, sterling silver, carved horn, and cloisonné (enamel and gilt designs start at $32; antique sets start at about $500). 143 East 62nd St., New York, NY 10021; 212-758-7004.

— G.B.B.


Table Dressing

The showroom has unusual antique furniture and chandeliers, but SENTIMENTO is really best appreciated for its antique desk, boudoir, and table accessories. There's a delightful riot of picture frames, perfume bottles, inkwells, clocks, candlesticks, and antique boxes. Designers and clients rely on owner Toby Landey for her highly discerning eye—whether their style is traditional or contemporary, city or country. Sentimento is to the trade only, but you can accompany your designer. $ 306 East 61st St., 3rd Fl., New York, NY 10021; 212-750-3111.

— M.L.L.

THE PIERRE HOTEL'S ROTUNDA is one of Manhattan's great urban spaces, a pseudo-Renaissance hall muraled in 1967 with a trompe l'oeil mix of mythological figures and society swells, including one woman with more than a passing resemblance to Jacqueline Onassis. 2 East 61st St., New York, NY 10021; 212-838-8000; www.fourseasons.com.

— L.W.


Skilled Sommeliers

If a novelist doesn't need an MFA to write a bestseller, then why should a sommelier need an MS (Master Sommelier) to create a great wine list? Most of Manhattan's top sommeliers are, in fact, MS-less. Take KURT ECKERT, who started out in restaurants to support his painting, and then his passion for wine took over. Now he's in charge of the cellar at the stellar Jean Georges o (1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023; 212-299-3900), where he's crafted a terrific list. There's plenty of Bordeaux, Burgundy—even an 1870 bottle of Château Lafite for $18,700.

Twenty years ago BETH VON BENZ was designing fur hats, not guiding diners at JUdson Grill (152 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019; 212-582-5252) to the perfect wine adventure for their meal. Her buddy NED BENEDICT holds sway over the wine program at Aureole (34 East 61st St., New York, NY 10021; 212-319-1660), for which he is forever finding great bottles at auction.

But there are many great sommeliers in New York. Several to keep in mind: Tim Kopec at Veritas, Paul Greico at Gramercy Tavern , and Karen King at Union Square Café .

— A.F.


The Decorated Garden

John Danzer of MUNDER-SKILES knows absolutely everything about outdoor furniture. Referring to himself as an "exterior decorator," Mr. Danzer is an expert on the subject of antique and reproduction garden furniture.

In a small upstairs showroom, dozens of chairs are hung Shaker-style on the walls, and chaises, tables, and ottomans crowd the floor. His collection includes more than 100 designs, inspired by people (Thomas Jefferson, Edith Wharton, Albert Hadley), locales (Dunbarton Oaks and Montgomery Place), and design vernaculars (Windsor, Gothic, Amish, contemporary). 799 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-717-0150.

— M.L.L.


Does Anyone Still Wear A Hat?

Whether it's a hat made from dyed and curled ostrich feathers or a wide-brimmed Swiss Paglina straw model topped with French silk flowers, TRACEY TOOKER's creations suit every whimsy (Aretha Franklin, Brooke Astor, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg are regular patrons). Considered one of the most sought-after milliners in New York City, Southampton, and Palm Beach, Tooker excels in elegant made-to-order chapeaux with bone buttons, luxurious real and faux furs, double grosgrain silk bows, and satin linings. "We find the best silhouette for your face, the best color for your outfit," says Tooker. $150-$1,200. 1211 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10028; 212-472-9603.

Other top milliners include: Suzanne (700 Madison Ave.; 212-593-3232) for bridal and special-occasion hats, tiaras, and ornaments; The Hat Shop (120 Thompson St.; 212-219-1445) for contemporary designs; and Lisa Shaub (232 Mulberry St.; 212-965-9176) for custom wide-brims and other styles.

— K.B.


Bespoke Linens

If you like your bed, bath, and table as carefully dressed as your person, visit LERON, purveyors of the world's most sumptuous matelassé coverlets, cashmere blankets, and bespoke linens. Matching tableware to your china or bedding to your wallcoverings is what Leron does best. Monocled artisans in Italy, Madeira, and France apply the most extraordinary embroidery, appliqué work, and Beauvais stitching to crisp 600-count Egyptian cotton, pure linen, silk douppioni, or woven jacquard. 750 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-753-6700.

— J.S.


A Map of The World

To fond adherents, the third-generation family-owned J. POCKER & SON is as appreciated for its outstanding collections of limited-edition decorative prints and large-scale maps as for its custom frames, framing, and matting. In addition to exclusive collections from naturalist Mark Catesby and the entire florilegium by Sir Joseph Banks, you will find, literally, maps of the entire universe, displayed in frequent rotation on the second-floor gallery.

They include a map of the Wall Street area in 1664 (unframed, $250; framed, $550); Sidney's Map of 12 Miles Around New York in 1849 ($850; $1,600); and splendid maps from the Vatican Library Collection, such as Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius' Map of the World ca. 1598 ($400-$1,800, depending on size) and Coronelli's celestial map of the constellations from 1693 ($700; $1,400). The myriad selection at J. Pocker & Sons is wondrous—and addictive. 135 East 63rd St., New York, NY 10021; 212-838-5488; www.jpocker.com.

— M.L.L.


Dressing Up

Under the urbane and stylish eye of Jack Simpson, DORMEUIL has developed a sophisticated custom business that includes men's suits, sportswear, shirts, and a full complement of accessories. The firm's particular strength is evening- and formalwear: debonair dinner jackets in crushed velvet and patterned barathea, linen formal shirts, and a variety of evening trousers.

The fancy waistcoats, recreated by L'Escalier d'Argent of Paris from jacquard patterns originally worn during the reign of Louis XVI, are made of embroidered damasks, brocades, and French velvet. These dress vests are hand-cut and finished with matching linings and buttons. The Brocatelle ($615), for instance, is done in an exquisite silk-linen jacquard of leaves and ornamental flowers. 21 East 67th St., New York, NY 10021; 212-396-4444; www.dormeuilusa.com.

— G.B.B.


Accessories for the Home

Call it the singerie conspiracy—you will never pass by the windows of WILLIAM WAYNE & CO. and not find a sly, strategically placed monkey beckoning you. Once inside, you'll find a shop decked out like a tasteful friend's pleasantly cluttered home, filled to the rafters with accessories.

"We take things from the past that have gone out of fashion and reinvent them in a fresh and stylish way," says co-owner William Meyer. There are assorted pieces of furniture, Chinese porcelain footbaths, and piles of toleware. But William Wayne & Co. really excels in beautiful things for the table. We dare you not to fall in love with the wonderfully colored crystal goblets ($20 each), the vast array of dessert plates ($85-$300), or the myriad napkin rings ($5-$10 each). 846-850 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-288-9243 (or 40 University Place; 212-533-4711).

— M.L.L.

JOHN LOBB has been making shoes and boots for discerning feet since the mid-19th century at its St. James's Street shop in London. Last year, the firm opened a Manhattan branch carrying ready-made footwear—town and country shoes, evening shoes in patent and calf leathers, and a variety of boots. The most famous shoe here is unquestionably the one designed by William Lobb himself. Called the William, it is a double-buckled, straight cap-toe design with a double sole. At once elegant and slightly sporty, the William comes in box calf, suede, and our favorite, the dark-brown grained calf ($760). 680 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-888-9797.

— G.B.B.


Object Lessons

To his eponymous shop in Carnegie Hill GERALD BLAND brings the benefits of a long tenure at Sotheby's as the auction house's 18th-century English decorative arts specialist. In this small but comfortable space, one is aware of a distinguished sensibility behind every piece. Predominantly 18th- and early-19th-century English furniture (a pair from 1760; $125,000 for both) is complemented by an occasional well-turned French piece and some especially fine paintings by lesser-known 17th- and 18th-century artists. On one recent visit there was a set of four large-scale 18th-century Dutch landscape paintings gracefully begging for a grand foyer or living room. $ 1262 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10128; 212-987-8505.

— M.L.L.


Classic Womenswear

It may take its name from the City by the Bay, but you won't find the SAN FRANCISCO CLOTHING company anywhere but in New York. The store targets women over 35, which explains why everything on display is choice, no-nonsense, and figure-forgiving—such as its classic straight skirt with a high waistband.

Nothing beats the store's selection of casual threads with an elegant edge, perfect for chic weekend getaways: for example, sexy Parisian blue jeans by For Joseph ($110) and a fleet of French mariner's shirts ($50-$125).

For evening, the store offers separates designed to coordinate with what's already in your wardrobe. A bestselling box-pleated ball-gown skirt of heavy duchesse satin ($445-$525) can be dressed up with a beaded shell or loosened up with a twinset (shells and twinsets, $195-$325). For a downpour, there's Barbour all-weather gear ($345-$495) or a divine raincoat in robin's-egg blue ($495-$595). And for winter, authentic Austrian Loden coats ($895-$995). 975 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212-472-8740.

— J.S.


Antiques to Inspire

Strolling through AMY PERLIN ANTIQUES' pleasantly crowded space, you can imagine the grand manor house, Burgundian château, or Umbrian villa in which all the pieces would seem particularly at home. Dealing in no specific period or country, but rather more in sentiment and sensibility, the store will intrigue and inspire. Recent finds: three matching oversized walnut armoires from a French refectory ($14,000 each), a ten-foot-high chest of drawers from a Spanish church ($18,000), and an evocative trumeau mirror ($5,800) and round walnut table ($30,000) from Italy. $ 306 East 61st St., New York, NY 10021; 212-593-5756.

— M.L.L.


Sun-Kissed Clothes

If you're looking to outfit yourself for a sojourn in Palm Beach, or you'd like to recapture the breezy elegance of your last visit, there's no more dependable resource than the Upper East Side's A PERFECT DAY IN PARADISE.

Luxuriate in rack after rack of colorful resortwear: print skirts and dresses (two-piece silk set, $455), bikinis, thong sandals adorned with daisies, twinsets, and T-shirts with contrast stitching at the sleeves and neck. (For dedicated preppies, there are grosgrain hairbands in time-honored color combinations such as navy and green.) Just in case it should rain on your patch of paradise, equip yourself with a mackintosh from Scotland. $25-$1,000. 153 East 70th St., New York, NY 10021; 212-639-1414.

— J.S.

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Member of Fine Dining.

$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.