Upper East Side Shops
Moda Operandi Madison
24 E. 64th St., Upper East Side
Moda Operandi's second showroom (which, like the online store, and the first physical showroom in Belgravia, specializes in pieces that are straight from the runway) just opened off Madison Avenue in conjunction with New York Fashion Week. The space itself, a two-story townhouse identified by a single display window, is every bit as elegant as you'd expect, with de Gournay-wallpapered walls, a full-service kitchen, and furniture hand-picked by co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo. The exclusive, private shopping experience is by appointment only, but the selection of designer goods, including the most stunning jewelry, is second-to-none.
26 E. 80th St., Upper East Side
This gorgeous estate jewelry shop looks more like an exceptionally appointed apartment than a store and has more than earned its name: the collection of estate jewelry spanning every era and every designer (Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels are the biggies) is nothing if not museum-worthy. Rare treasure hunters in particular flock to FD as it’s one of the few U.S. distributors of JAR. Also worth noting are the vintage accessories by Chanel and Hermes and photography by Man Ray, Richard Avedon, and more.
306 E. 61st St., 7th Floor, Upper East Side
At Balsamo, you'll find an eclectic mix of European (18th- through 20th-century) antique and vintage furnishings and accessories for the home and garden. In addition to their showroom in Manhattan in the Interior Design Building, they have an upstate store—housed in a renovated 1837 church in Pine Plains, NY.
306 E. 61st St., 2nd Fl., Upper East Side
Led by Barbara Kirshbaum, who has been on more than 120 buying trips to Europe and Asia, BK Antiques carries furniture, lighting, accessories, original artwork, and silver from the 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century. BK Antiques also has an exclusive collection of limited editions: high-end desk accessories; a series of small “drinks” tables in wood, iron, and stone; oak console tables; barstools; wastebaskets and custom iron and wood benches.
969 Madison Ave., Upper East Side
This mega-pharmacy is so large (15,000 square feet, spread across three floors), it’s actually deemed a department store: Sure, you can drop off a prescription, but most people come here to pick up anything from old-fashioned throat lozenges to Mason Pearson hairbrushes to fancy shampoo and lipstick. The prices fit the setting (it’s just a stone’s throw from The Carlyle), but they have the services to match, from quick delivery, to house accounts, to shipping prescriptions to you anywhere in the world. They also have an excellent toy store named Zittles which consumes the entire third floor, carrying old-fashioned favorites like Barbie, Madame Alexander dolls, and a solid selection of dress up clothes.
972 Fifth Ave., Upper East Side
The French Embassy has pulled off a wonderful coup in bringing this gem-like French bookstore and reading room to Fifth Avenue. Named after the ethereal character from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the Jacques Garcia-designed (who else?) space is beautifully decked-out with comfy leather couches for cuddling up with a novel, and a gleaming constellation fresco on the ceiling of the two-storey space. The only French bookstore of its kind in the city, it’s a gift to New York—in one of the few remaining Stanford White-designed Beaux Arts buildings, no less.
SHOP Cooper Hewitt
2 E. 91st St., Upper East Side
Housed in Andrew Carnegie's former Georgian mansion, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum still conserves the original dark wood-lined interiors and imposing staircase, even after closing for a few years for a major upgrade in the hands of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, among others. The shop on the second floor is part of the revamp, too, with the architectural firm's custom modular shelving framing the tailor-made space. The wonderful mix of beautifully designed objects and utilitarian goods remains the same, however, and from designers young and old, from Ben Medansky vases to Tom Dixon spice grinders, and much more. It is by far one of the best museum shops on the planet.
De Vera (Closed)
26 E. 81st St., Upper East Side
At this veritable treasure chest, black walls highlight cabinets chock full of objects chosen solely for their beauty, whether they be modern French ceramics from Tse et Tse, rare jewels, or 15th-century religious effigies. It's all the work of owner Federico de Vera who travels around the globe hand-picking and then arranging every single item for his two Manhattan stores. Nothing comes with a label, but should you want the backstory on any object, the staff are expert antiquarians and design connoisseurs. The other location is in Soho.
Creel and Gow
131 E. 70th St., Upper East Side
Jamie Creel and Christopher Gow are serious collectors who spend much of their time traveling the world sourcing far-flung objects for their townhouse shop. We go just to see the wacky and elegant displays that mix coral and taxidermy, Suzani textiles and kitschy South African ceramics. It’s a real mix with prices to match, and if you’re looking for a truly offbeat gift—like say, a hand-blown glass hammer and nails—chances are you’ll find it here.
822 Madison Ave., Upper East Side
Proenza's first brick and mortar location is everything you'd expect from this much-loved label: The space is a slick, geometric gray, with inlaid marble walls that are the perfect backdrop for the duo's structural pieces. There's now an additional boutique in Soho.