London's Vivienne Westwood, whom many consider the godmother of punk rock, never made much of a commercial mark on New York. That changed last month when she opened a New York boutique in a six floor French Beaux Arts townhouse at 14 East 55th Street. Still, Westwood was stealthy; the store had only a soft opening on November 5, though an official opening party is expected this winter. But AVENUE has had a look and liked what it saw.
The store seems to stretch on forever; Westwood's women's Anglomania collection is displayed near the entrance, the lower level is reserved for men's wear, and the third floor contains the main Vivienne Westwood line, featuring made-to-order and store dresses that run up to $10,000, as well as the Andreas collection by Westwood's husband Andreas Kronthaler, which includes avant-garde unisex items that are literally one-of-a-kind. Not only that, but this is the only store outside of London currently carrying the World's End line, named for the site of Westwood's original boutique in London. However, get your hands on them now, because on they sell through, they won't be replenishing. And for those who know the secret password--hint, it's not Malcolm McLaren--there's a V.I.P. room as well.
There's nothing punk about the operation, which boasts everything from a full staff of associates including five full-time sales associates, two part-time sales associates, one full-time stock supervisor, and three managers, and most notably adorable Vivienne Westwood-label water bottles. The designer's social conscience is revealed by the Africa bags also on display on the lower level. They are hand-crafted by African women Westwood pays a living wage.
"We're giving customers something new and different," said a representative for the brand. "Because we're not found in a lot of department stores, we're the only real point of contact in New York, we always keep the lines of communication open between customers and associates."
Next up, a sequel to the documentary Vivienne Westwood's London? Westwood's New York, anyone?
Visit Vivienne Westwood's website at viviennewestwood.com.