As Fashion Week mania sweeps through New York, London, Milan and Paris, author and curator Bronwyn Cosgrave reports from a city that’s never less than style-conscious

After two decades of reporting from New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, I’ve earned the right to break free from the tents and runways at Lincoln Center to explore Manhattan’s awe-inspiring boutiques and varied in-spots. Take it from me, you don’t need a ‘Frow’ seat to experience style in the city that never sleeps.

When the Fashion Month caravan moves on to London, Milan and Paris, New York will still be enjoying what Women’s Wear Daily called an ‘epic retail deluge’. Be warned – shopping in Manhattan is more competitive sport than retail therapy. But combing the racks is worth the effort not only because NYFW marks the time when the new season’s collections drop, but also because fashion boutique fixtures and fittings are almost as lust-inducing. The black fox-fur hammock dominating Alexander Wang’s Grand Street boutique in Soho, for example, went a long way to putting the retail headquarters of New York’s hottest fashion name firmly on the map. Wang’s interior designer Ryan Korban earned plaudits elsewhere, too, for conjuring a theatrical ambience with emerald-green marble walls at the newly-opened Mercer Street boutique of Balenciaga, where Wang also serves as artistic director.

Nearby, at the Carven, the Space Age atmosphere evokes Gravity, although the sartorial style is more groovy Parisian. Tom Ford’s restored Madison Avenue flagship brings to mind a billionaire’s lair. Black lacquer walls, artist-made gilt furniture and antique bronze mirrors set off Ford’s shimmering gowns, slick leather and suede finery.

People-watching is a year-round pursuit too. Uptown Manhattan’s luxury retail thoroughfares (namely Fifth and Madison Avenues) as well as the Chelsea gallery district and SoHo are great places to find Manhattan’s fastest growing fashionista sub-species, the flamboyantly-dressed fashion blogger/stylist/Instagrammer/model. You’ll find her Boho cohorts at the Boom Boom Room, aka The Top of the Standard. Found atop the Standard High Line hotel, it offers the best view of Manhattan’s skyline.

Follow with a visit to Narcissa, the restaurant at its newly-opened sister outpost, The Standard East Village. Narcissa derives its name from the breed of dairy cow fertilising the New York State farm owned by proprietor André Balazs, but there’s nothing rural about this chic eaterie. As a rule, reservations are required, but if you show up dressed like Anna Wintour – that is, in sunglasses, mink and Manolos –  you’ll likely to be whisked to a table.

Photos by Associated Press

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