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Apr 9, 2020

Window Shopping on Fifth Avenue During a Pandemic


Readers, today I went running up to Central Park and on the way I stopped to take in some store windows on Fifth Avenue.

Needless to say the stores are all closed.  A few are actually boarded up, but most are not.  Some windows--the jewelry stores in particular-- are empty of merchandise.  But many stores left their window displays up.

Versace was not only closed, it was completely cleaned out.

The streets are nearly empty of people and there's very little traffic.  It's like having the city to yourself.  Passing by the shells of famous old department stores like B. Altman and Lord & Taylor, I couldn't help wonder if there won't be many more empty shells in the near future.  This pandemic is going to have a devastating effect on retail fashion for lots of different reasons.

The old B. Altman department store on 34th & Fifth.

The old Lord & Taylor flagship on 38th & Fifth.


Rockefeller Center

I actually saw some very pretty things.  I was struck by a lot of styles with an early Thirties feel: flowy fabrics and bias-cut satin.  That said, there's no single dominant style.  You see things reminiscent of nearly every decade of the Twentieth Century!

The Columbian designer Johanna Ortiz, in her own Fifth Avenue store.  These flowy crepe dresses could be from the late Twenties or early Thirties.
This playsuit ensemble from Guess has a Forties-Fifties feel.


Bias-cut satin gown with back cowl by Carly Cushnie at Saks: very Thirties Hollywood.
More Johanna Ortiz (from Saks)

Moving north, I saw some really lovely things at Longchamp, Valentino, Ferragamo, and Armani.

This summer dress made with inverted pleats at Longchamp caught my eye but what an ugly mannequin.
Also at Longchamp, this summer dress is entirely shirred at the hip and then releases into soft gathers.
I loved this men's blouson-style hooded pullover at Ferragamo.   I could make that.
Modest white summer dresses at Valentino have an almost Edwardian feel.
At Armani, an elegant double-faced wool women's coat.
Classic Armani women's suits: these remind me of his Eighties stuff.
Poor Bergdorf's: their parent company, Neiman Marcus, is nearing bankruptcy.  Hopefully someone keeps this landmark store open.  The windows are a mishmash of every sort of style, but that's fashion today.


That Paco Rabanne silver chain mail dress looks like it's from 1968.
This Burberry ensemble has an animal print dress topped iwth a coat lined with leopard.  To me it feels like Seventies Yves Saint Laurent.
This Rodarte dress feels Thirties to me.  I really like the fabric.
I forgot who the designers are here but we're deep into late Sixties Carnaby Street territory.

A few more photos of this very empty-feeling town.

Outside the Plaza hotel looking south toward Bergdorf's.

Looking north toward Central Park on Fifth.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: desolate.
Times Square, deserted.


Very few people in Central Park

In closing, I hope you're all doing well and staying healthy.

If you're sewing--and I hope you are--happy sewing.  Any of these styles strike your fancy?


35 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for that tour. Must have felt very strange. Is it hard getting used to the quiet and the lack of people and traffic? Thank goodness for sewing, it keeps me sane. Glad you are well

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  2. Thank you for the glimpse of New York. High waisted pants and shorts are a consistent theme at the moment. Sadly they make all but the most svelte of women look like they have too much junk in their trunk.
    I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

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  3. In all these photos only 3 people! Looks like a good time to find a parking place in NYC.I choose your classic bandana as the best fashion.

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  4. Your pictures are lovely, calming, and makes me think about how it took a strange virus to make all of us pause and enjoy a bit of quiet and relaxation for a bit. Thanks!

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  5. Oh dear I think you have been hacked! (see 'Annonymous' comment above)
    Thank you for the pics as now I know what the streets and buildings actually looks like, without traffic and people.
    Sending good wishes from over here.

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  6. Some very wearable clothes there, hopefully someone will be able to buy them soon. I feel the hardest thing about retail is the RENT. Property prices are off the charts everywhere. Stay safe, NYC is a hot spot it would seem and I feel for your City <3

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  7. Never saw the city so empty during the day...actually looks erie...I agree, that black & white print was lovely...that scroll kind of design has always been a favorite...stay well & safe, Peter!

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  8. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a coyote or a zombie shambling down the street in any of these photos. I’m glad there is still window shopping!

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    1. I'd be much more surprised to see Cathy wanderin' and window shoppin'. Perhaps this can be a regular "thing". Imagine Michael touring the boutiques on the west side, Cathy giving us glimmers of her favorite upper east side retail haunts, and Peter revisiting Fifth Avenue in mid to late May? No sew -just "on the go".

      I'd show my Ohio, but how many dead strip malls are of merit, and when all the hub-bub is a crowd clamoring for gas at a Sunoco ($1.37 a gallon - and yes, I bought me some), well, I just assume let the social scientists feast on someone else's bones.

      As for you, BarbaraShowell, all this chatter of the un-dead and volpine, lead me to believe you should curb your Netflix, and immerse yourself in sewing (self care advice, nurse to nurse).

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  9. Hi from Portugal! Thank you for sharing NYC... You are all in our hearts...
    You stay safe, I hope your mum is ok too.
    From this side of the ocean,

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  10. Thank you for the tour. So many beautiful old buildings. Some very strange outfits! Some I liked, the almost Edwardian outfit - but minus the monastery rope, some I didn't, but that means they are covering everyone's tastes! I like simple things and while I quilt, I'm beginning to think now is the time to make my own skirts with my own fabric.

    On the brighter side - the pollution must be at an all time low! Some good things are appearing like people turning to their own baking, crafting etc - so much better! But I'm not looking forward to when stir crazy cranky hits big time! Take care peeps.

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  11. Beautiful. My sewing mojo has deserted me...so I'm making scrubs for the NHS along with several thousand other volunteers. I spent all day yesterday just cutting out...

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  12. love that armani coat..... we are very quiet here too in Ireland.....in someways I am rather taken with hearing birdsong louder than traffic - thank you for a great post - keep well

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  13. Thank you for the running (walking) tour, Peter. Wow. It looks like scenes from an old Harry Belafonte movie. You covered quite a bit of ground. Beautiful and yet, eerie at the same time. Stay well. Praying for us all.

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  14. Wow, those crepe flowy dresses are amazing!! I've never been to New York and looking at these pictures make me want to go window shopping there.

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  15. Thanks for the tour, Peter. It's been a long time, if ever, that I've seen photos of NYC with so few people out and about. After 9-11? Maybe not even then.

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  16. Thank you, Peter. It was nice to have a little diversion, an armchair tour of the shop windows. What would we do without our sewing/fashion hobby to keep our minds on something pleasant. Such scary times. Like we have had an invasion of the body snatchers! Where have all the people gone? Stay safe and keep putting up your lovely blogs. Can't wait to see how you get on with your vintage swimming costume. I think you are starting to get my sewing mojo back up and running. All the best. Stay safe.

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  17. 1960s Carnaby Street for the blouse and trousers, yes.

    That goldenrod garment beside it is pure Protestant Mainline church choir robe, though. It even has a liturgical stole wrapped around the mannequin's neck!

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    1. I agree - church choir robe, i wore one for years growing up in the church. I didn't know they sold them in high end stores.

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  18. This post really struck me. Thanks.

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  19. Enjoyed your visual tour. My first trip to NYC was overwhelming--so many people--so much movement. Now I am able to see the city through your eyes. Styles you've captured are fabulous. I'm especially fond of the bias cut 30's/40's dresses.

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  20. Thank you for photos of an eerie NY.. they say that during times of trouble fashion goes feminine and skirt hems drop. I've been noticing all things gathered and frilly for a while.

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  21. I had to laugh at your comment If could make that.’ I say that all the time when looking at ready to wear. What a different view of NYC. One can’t help but wonder what our world will be like when this is over.

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  22. Great photos, Peter. Reminds me of the 1959 Harry Belafonte flick “The World, The Flesh, and The Devil.” Stay healthy. My doc sent me for a coronavirus test this morning and now I just sit and wait for the results.

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    1. Hang in there, Stana: hope it's just a mild flu.

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  23. How lucky we are to have this wonderful tour to remind us of the beautiful things about New York we know and love....visited from Australia 10 years ago and so want to go back again....

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  24. It sure is strange times. I feel sorry for that pot of daffodils - rather than being cheery they look left behind. It will be interesting to see how retail goes after all this.

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  25. Love the tour -- what a strange feel to NYC. Thanks for sharing.

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  26. thank you so much for the photo tour, I loved it.
    My favourite picture by far was the one at the end of your smiling face. I can't tell you how good it felt to see you, even though we've never met.

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    1. Thank you, Kathryn. Hope all's well with you and yours during these challenging times.

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  27. I was in New York City on March 10 and 11. The city was eerily quiet even then, but nothing like the post apocalyptic pictures here. Thanks for sharing. Stay well, and remember that every day that passes is a day closer to resuming some semblance of normal life.

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  28. That Paco Rabanne dress IS from the 60s--it's a version of the famed dress Audrey Hepburn wore in 1967 in the movie "Two for the Road." (https://www.flickr.com/photos/skorver1/6106842420/)

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  29. Lela S Ontario CanadaApril 20, 2020 at 6:37 PM

    Thanks for the fashion windows preview! Rare chance to see the looks without crowds in front of the glass. Thrilled you pointed out designer Johanna Ortiz-a couple of her outfits appeal and one reminds me of what Mom wore in late 1970s (would your own Mom have worn similar dresses?). I'd have to adjust the neckline for her (lower bustline) should I attempt to sew a similar dress. You're right-the windows are covering many decades, all the merrier in the lead-up to the August Wonder Woman 1984 movie release. Just purchased the May Vogue issue to read Gal Gadot's interview (check out those dresses she models) AND to check out the Metropolitan Museum's exhibit preview About Time (dresses! 19th to 20th century).

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