While Coco Chanel never lived chez New York City, her shop has become a symbol of New York luxury since its opening in the mid-1960s. A half-century later, women of all ages continue to flock to this multi-story flagship, where the ground level is crammed with bags, shoes, and accessories, the second floor is devoted exclusively to sportswear and the third floor offers suits, eveningwear, and a fleet of personal shoppers. Sleek black walls and white-carpeted floors guide customers past cases of watches and double-C-stamped jewelry, while sliding mirrors on the first floor open to reveal clutches, totes, and quilted leather handbags; the latter, first created in the 1920s, are second only to Chanel’s famous boucle suits in popularity. Upstairs, more mirrors open out to reveal spacious closets and fitting rooms. The third floor’s spacious layout is less retail scene than lounge, complete with black leather couches. A small cosmetics counter offers Chanel’s full array of makeup, nail polish and the iconic, ever-popular fragrance, Chanel No. 5. Those just browsing can feast on plenty of eye candy, but serious fashion savants eager to get their hands on a piece of Chanel couture are advised to book ahead with the dauntingly well-groomed salespeople.
For those who don’t want to go through six weeks of fittings, Chanel’s well-made, classic clothing is a good option. The fashion house’s timeless white suits ($10,100), as well as Karl Lagerfeld’s usual ready-to-wear pastels, are always appropriate. Alterations not included.