PARIS IN NEW YORK CITY
It’s strange to imagine a time when you couldn’t find what you were looking for in New York City – especially when that something is the latest French fashion. Paris didn’t release their monopoly on style until the latter half of the 20th Century (and some would argue they still haven’t) so you can imagine the voracious appetite for imports that would otherwise involve booking a ticket on a Transatlantic ocean liner. The following article from L’Officiel de la Mode in 1929 describes a department store opening on 5th Avenue that would cater almost exclusively to French imports:
The new house of Stewart, which opens on October 7th at Fifth Avenue and Fifty Sixth Street New-York-City, is the latest and more luxurious Specialty Shop in America. Its location, far up on Fifth Avenue, where the select residential district of New-York begins, would find its equivalent in a Paris location at the beginning of the Bois-de-Boulogne.
According to a principle laid down by Mr. I.-L. Liberman, the director of Stewart, 75% of the merchandise presented in the house some from France and the highest standard of luxury and smartness is to be maintained.
In preparation for the opening of Stewart, its Paris representative, the Francis Thynne Company, has shipped millions of francs worth of models, chosen by expert buyers to please the most exacting American women.
At the present, Mr. Ralph Ewing, of the Francis Thynne Company, is selecting for Stewart the newest creations of Paris so that Stewart will continue to receive, with every boat, the costumes, the accessories, the vanities which contribute to the smartness of the Parisiene.
The ideal of Stewart is to present the most complete resume of the actual Paris mode to be found in America.
There’s not much information available regarding the fate of Stewart, but it is safe to say that it has gone the way of other defunct luxury retailers B. Altman and Company and Bonwit Teller. The good news is that there are still beautiful department stores on or near Fifth that continue to bring European fashion to America. Speaking of, one such retailer, Bergdorf Goodman, is the subject of a new book by former CEO, Ira Neimark – something great to pick up if you’re interested in the department store business and how it’s grown over the past fifty years.
Images: (Top) L’Officiel de la Mode No. 99 – November 1929, (Bottom) – The Rise of Fashion and Lessons Learned at Bergdorf Goodman – $31.69 at Amazon.com