Lexington Avenue is a world of its own, especially along the five-block stretch from 69th to 74th Street. Here a distinct sensibility has taken hold, as chic shops have nestled in among the old-time hardware and shoe-repair shops and local coffee joints. Nowadays you can find Indian textiles or an 18th-century sideboard from Berlin a few doors down from the York Barber Shop, a relic that seems unchanged since it opened in 1928. This is a strip like few others, textured by both the exotic and the workaday. "It's not commercial," says Nina Griscom, one of the area's recent arrivals. "It is a real neighborhood." And one with real style.
This little shop is something like a stylish drawing room where the Lost Generation might have thrown back cocktails. Griscom, in fact, is the stepdaughter of former American ambassador to France Felix Rohatyn, and she uses her considerable connections to locate treasures from all around the world, such as sterling-silver purses picked up in Bangkok (from $425) and an ottoman covered in zebra skin ($4,500). Last fall, when she visited the Maharaja of Indur, Griscom was inspired by a weaver working in the palace. And this spring, her windows displayed a pair of ginger-colored velvet Jean Pascaud chairs that Barbara Becker had sold in the wake of her divorce from Boris. At 958 Lexington Ave.; 212-717-7373.
TODD ALEXANDER ROMANO
"Not to sound immodest, but this shop fills a void," says interior designer Romano, deeply tanned from a recent sojourn to Capri. "It's like nothing else in New York." On his corner of the avenue, Romano has set up a constantly evolving showroom that allows his inimitable imagination to run wild. Against a backdrop of hand-painted wallpaper is an eclectic mix of red leather Louis XVI slipper chairs ($6,800 a pair), a silver fifties cocktail shaker resembling a milk pail ($475), a cowhide ottoman from the fifties ($4,200), and a De Gournay blanc de chine terrine in the shape of a goose ($735). At 1015 Lexington Ave.; 212-879-7722.
The moment Patricia Palumbo discovered a Tommi Parzinger console in Westport, Connecticut, she decided to open a gallery dedicated to the midcentury German designer, who died in 1981. The tiny storefront sells originals—a 1940 ebonized walnut kitchen table with six chairs ($23,000), for example—and an assortment of fine reproductions. Palumbo, who has exclusive rights to produce Parzinger's designs, has re-created everything from crystal chandeliers ($8,500-$10,000) to a fluted dresser that would have been perfect in the boudoir of, say, Marilyn Monroe. As it happens, Marilyn (like various Rockefellers and Mellons) owned several Parzinger originals. $ At 972 Lexington Ave.; 212-734-7630; www.palumbogallery.com.
Just a touch east of Lexington on 70th Street, this new two-floor emporium overflows with all sorts of exotica from points considerably farther east. There are beaded tunics and pashminas, for sure—but also rarer pieces, such as Indian block-print quilts ($50-$250) and bright, patterned Pakistani bedcovers called suzanis ($250-$450). "My clientele has a sense of fun and adventure," says Freymann, who does the globe-trotting for them. At 153 E. 70th St.; 212-585-3767.
"We sell things you'd usually see in museums or galleries," Naoki Uemura says of his shop, which he owns with his wife, Kumi Oniki. Lining the shelves are simple linen coasters ($7), fat-bodied stoneware vases (from $150), and asymmetrical bowls by ceramist Hanako Nakazato ($60-$160). Along more expensive lines are the one-of-a-kind wrought-iron sculptures by James Garvey, which run upwards of $6,000. Our favorite is the set of coffee cups with textured circles and stripes ($150 for six) by Masahiro Mori, an 80-year-old master whose work was first seen in this country at the Museum of Modern Art. At 952 Lexington Ave.; 212-772-3243.
This well-edited antiques store has none of the prissiness of its Madison Avenue brethren. Owners Angus Wilkie and Len Morgan play extravagant European pieces—a Biedermeier cherrywood desk ($45,000), for one—off the shop's limestone floor, putty-colored walls, and floor-to-ceiling glass front. Wilkie, who spent a decade working at Christie's, goes on as many as five hunting trips a year, to Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom for such big game as a 67-inch-tall ormolu-mounted mahogany secretary by Friedrich Wichmann, circa 1800 ($95,000). Tabletops are sparely appointed with objets, among them 18th-century snuffboxes of horn, shell, and—oh, excuse us, here comes a pair of perfectly groomed decorators from Los Angeles. "This is the crossroads of Manhattan," Wilkie says once the pros have put a few items on hold. "There's a very nice built-in clientele." At 995 Lexington Ave.; 212-288-7597.
In her high-ceilinged 250-square-foot shop, Myers has somehow managed to pack in 10,000 antique prints. "There are so many more art pilgrims coming here these days," she says of the neighborhood. What they'll find is an incredible array of framed engravings, like a spooky 1864 image of Château de Montsabert ($1,050) and an 1861 hand-colored lobster from the Netherlands ($700). At 1030 Lexington Ave.; 212-288-3288.
Off the Avenue
Bergdorf Goodman, at 58th and Fifth, opens its refashioned seventh-floor restaurant, BG, this month, with interiors by Kelly Wearstler. The great Manhattan bakery Sant Ambroeus (212-570-2211) has just settled into its new home on 78th and Madison. And the gelato is as sensational as ever.
Collectors, take note: From November 3 to 4, Sotheby's (72nd and York; 212-606-7000) will put on the block pieces from the private collection of Lily and Edmond J. Safra. In December the venerable auction house will launch a special diamonds division, opening a shop that sells nothing but girls' best friends.
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