Midtown’s Fifth Avenue is one of the world’s most luxurious shopping streets, on a par with Bond Street, the Champs-Élysées, and Via Monte Napoleone. Numerous renowned design houses have made Fifth Avenue, along with 57th Street and few other neighboring streets, the site of their U.S. flagship stores. Below is a selection of the crème de la crème—or rather, the haute of the couture.
717 Fifth Avenue (at 56th Street)
Armani/5th Avenue. Image: JasonParis/Flickr
Designed by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas Architects in 2009, this flagship of Italian designer Giorgio Armani is worth a visit if only to admire the white staircase that rises like a tendril of smoke among the store’s four levels. It was the first Armani store to offer all the brand’s ranges, including Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AX/Armani Exchange, and Armani/Casa. After shopping, reward yourself with a respite at Armani/Ristorante on the top floor, which maintains the brand’s sleekly sinuous aesthetic. In addition to serving seasonal Italian-influenced fare such as lasagna made with Maine lobster, artichokes, and ricotta, it has a full bar.
9 East 57th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
The New York flagship of the iconic British brand spans six stories and encompasses the entire Burberry offering, from fragrances to bags, footwear to apparel for women, men, and children. And of course an entire section of the store is devoted to raincoats—only fitting given that Thomas Burberry himself invented gabardine in 1879. From the opposite side of 57th Street one can see that the store’s façade, with its grid of glass windows and metal panels, pays homage by way of Mondrian to Burberry’s signature plaid.
21 East 57th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
Just as the façade of Burberry’s 57th Street store references its trademark plaid, the front of the Dior boutique on the same block is a nod to the quilting on its classic leather bags. Inside you will likely find huge floral bouquets—hydrangeas seem to be a favorite—complementing the full array of Dior ranges, from cosmetics to jewelry to apparel.
Dolce & Gabbana
717 Fifth Avenue (between 55th and 56th Streets)
A relative newcomer to Fifth Avenue, the Italian design team’s New York flagship opened in 2013. You do not need to enter the three-story emporium to get a sense of its classic-with-a-dash-of-whimsy aesthetic, thanks to the 42-foot glass facade. As with other designer flagships, this is a one-stop shop for all the brand’s ranges, so that men, women, and children can sport Dolce & Gabbana from head (jacquard baseball caps) to toe (leather sneakers).
663 Fifth Avenue (between 52nd and 53rd Streets)
Rather than dubbing its Fifth Avenue store a flagship, the Italian menswear design house calls it a “global store.” In addition to the brand’s full line of apparel, footwear, and leather goods and other accessories, the store offers bespoke tailoring for casual apparel, outerwear, and shoes as well as for suits.
7 East 55th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
Unlike many of its peers, this German womenswear house eschewed both Fifth Avenue and 57th Street for its U.S. flagship, instead setting up shop on the relatively less-traveled 55th Street. The shop offers the original line as well as the Escada Sport bridge line, along with footwear, bags, and other accessories.
725 Fifth Avenue (at 56th Street)
The precisely positioned displays atop gleaming marble surfaces give this flagship a museumlike ambience—fitting, perhaps, for a brand that will be celebrating its centennial in 2021. (In fact, Gucci did open a museum in Florence several years ago.) But the Italian design behemoth is no relic. Among its recent innovations, available at this store, is Gucci DIY, which enables shoppers to modify shirts, sweaters, and jackets with embroidered appliqués both subtle and bold and to select jacket linings from a collection of vividly patterned silks.
610 Fifth Avenue (in Rockefeller Center)
Longchamp. Image: Matthew Gomez/Flickr
Personalization is also an option at Longchamp’s Rockefeller Center shop: Choose from one of four styles of its best-selling Le Pliage bag, then select your choice of leather, strap, tab, flap, and lining color. Although the company started as a purveyor of leather accessories—founder Jean Cassegrain is credited with producing the world’s first luxury leather-covered pipes—it has since branched out to design womenswear, scarves, and jewelry as well, which are also available in-store.
1 East 57th Street (at Fifth Avenue)
Louis Vuitton. Image: Ingfbruno/Wikimedia
French house Louis Vuitton has come a long way since its origins as a maker of trunks—though its luggage remains an object of desire—and its four-story emporium on 57th Street is a testament to its wide-ranging offering. The largest of the brand’s global stores and spanning more than 20,000 square feet, this flagship is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas; its services include fragrance refills, ring sizing, and on-site “hot stamping” of initials into a variety of its bags and travel accessories.
724 Fifth Avenue (between 56th and 57th Streets)
This outpost of the Italian design house is nearly as expansive as Vuitton’s store around the corner. And like the Vuitton store, it sells the gamut of the brand’s ranges, from fragrances to apparel to footwear for men and women. Prada’s Fifth Avenue store also offers a made-to-measure bespoke service for menswear.
3 East 57th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
The design house formerly known as Yves Saint Laurent renovated its 57th Street flagship several years ago to reflect the somewhat more-streamlined aesthetic of then-creative director Hedi Slimane. The three-story shop is still a worthy monument to M. Saint Laurent, with the choice of richly veined white and black marble a subtle nod to his revolutionary Le Smoking collection of 1966.
655 Fifth Avenue (at 52nd Street)
Salvatore Ferragamo began his career in the 1920s as a shoemaker to the stars; Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson were among his clients. Today the Italian house also designs apparel, bags, and accessories for men, women, and children, all of which are for sale, along with its fragrances and jewelry, at this Fifth Avenue store; bespoke tailoring for men’s suits is offered as well. Outfitted with a walnut staircase between its two floors, this is the largest Ferragamo store in the world.
693 Fifth Avenue (between 54th and 55th Streets)
Another 20,000-square-foot colossus, the Italian designer’s New York flagship opened in 2014, with an eight-story facade and a 27-foot atrium. The gray terrazzo floors and walls accentuate the full-out glamour of Valentino’s designs. Womenswear, menswear, and accessories are on sale here, and the shop also enables shoppers to personalize the “guitar straps” of their bags by choosing from a variety of patterns.
647 Fifth Avenue (between 51st and 52nd Streets)
Versace. Image: Ingfbruno/Wikimedia
The building that houses Versace’s New York flagship was once owned by the Vanderbilts, and its marble facade, towering arched entryway, and second-story balcony reflect the lavishness of the tycoons as much as it does the design sensibility of the Italian brand. The former townhouse now sells the primary Versace ranges of men’s and women’s apparel, custom formalwear, the Versus Versace diffusion line, eyewear, jewelry, accessories, and Versace Home, which includes tableware, bed and bath, and decorative accents such as gilded porcelain banks in the shape of the brand’s Medusa-head logo.