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Few city experiences are more quintessentially New York than a shopping stroll up Fifth Avenue. Whether you are window shopping, gift shopping, or selecting the season’s latest must-have fashions, this string of luxury retail has something for everyone. Read on for our guide to navigating the iconic Fifth Avenue stores.
The Department Stores
There are department stores and then there are department stores. This NYC real estate is blessed with some of the most luxuriously curated shopping experiences in the world. Bergdorf Goodman on 57th Street is the grandfather of couture shopping, located in a former Vanderbilt mansion. In addition to designs from the world’s top fashion houses, you’ll find dressing rooms on upper floors with views of Central Park. Nearby, three historic townhouses form Henri Bendel at 56th Street. The legendary store is more than 100 years old, and is credited with introducing U.S. shoppers to brands like Coco Chanel and Lanvin. Last but certainly not least, Saks Fifth Avenue, as the name might suggest, is the anchor of Fifth Avenue shopping at 50th Street. Nine floors and an entire city block comprise this mammoth consumer playground.
The World’s Leading Fashion Houses
Gucci, Versace, Prada—nearly every luxury Italian brand is represented here. Dolce & Gabbana’s Fifth Avenue shop at 56th is a relative newcomer and gushes with opulence. Venetian glass chandeliers, gilded mirrors and vintage baroque sofas set the stage for the brand’s lavish style. At Valentino, another recent addition to the block near 55th, a soaring three-story atrium, sculptural staircase and monochrome palette offer a sleek backdrop for the palazzo-style shop. Stop here for two floors for women’s wear and bespoke designs for men. At the corner of 52nd Street Salvatore Ferragamo is an institution. Ferragamo was known for creating high-quality shoes, and not just any shoes—he stitched Judy Garland’s ruby slippers for the Wizard of Oz and Marilyn Monroe’s peep toe slingbacks worn with that wayward white dress. Shop here for timeless footwear as well as men’s and women’s clothing.
And it’s not just the Italians, of course. North American brands—like Tommy Hilfiger, Hollister and Club Monaco—are present as well, as are French icons like Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Longchamp.
When it comes to jewelry and 5th Avenue, it’s hard to say which name carries more clout. Of course there is Tiffany & Co. at 57th street, with its soaring bank vault entrance and setting for the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Shop here for anything you want to take away in a little turquoise box, or enjoy lounging in a lifesize one at The Blue Box Cafe on the store’s Fourth floor. If you are shopping for something important, say, diamonds, carry on, there is much to see. Harry Winston, the name recognized for gilding the so-called lily by being first to loan diamonds to actresses for the Academy Awards, was founded here. Make an appointment or stop in to the flagship store on 55th Street. At Cartier you’ll find investment-quality engagement rings as well as jewels set in wild cat designs. Whether or not you are buying today, Bulgari in the Crown Building on 57th is a must-do. Marble and gold lattice entryway leads into a temple of jeweled designs.
And when it comes to watches, tiny Switzerland has a strong foothold on Fifth Avenue: Rolex, Hublot, Piaget, and Breguet all have elegant storefronts.