The biggest buzz this weekend was about the new Ralph Lauren boutique that opened on Madison Avenue. Located across the street from his already famous Rhinelander mansion for men, this one is devoted to women and home. Unlike most retailers who hire the "it architect" of the moment to create a modern store, Ralph Lauren chose to look to the past and to complement the Rhinelander mansion.
The Beaux Arts style limestone beauty was a collaboration between Weddle Gilmore and architect Thomas Hut of HS2 Architecture with a nod to McKim, Mead & White. It harkens back to the age of Edith Wharton and looks rather grand.
According to The New York Times, Ruth Brown, a widow, hired McKim, Mead & White in 1893 to design a house at the southwest corner of Madison Avenue at 72nd Street (above). She never moved into the mansion and in 1895 it was sold to Alva Vanderbilt. Work on Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo's "fanciful chateau" on the southeast corner was completed in 1897. It was bought by Ralph Lauren for his store in 1986.
As you can see, there was nothing chic about the building that replaced the original McKim, Mead & White mansion in the 1950's. It later became another Ralph Lauren boutique which was torn down to make way for this chic boutique.
Even though the building is dedicated to Ralph Lauren, there is something about the black and white central staircase with its mirrored walls that reminds me of Coco Chanel. I think she too would have also enjoyed this space.
The whole building is absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend a visit. Right now, the Ralph Lauren Home boutique occupies the fourth floor but I hear it will be moved to the adjacent brownstone under construction. I'll be sure to keep you posted. Happy Shopping!
888 Madison Avenue
at 72nd Street
New York, NY 10021
Photos from New York magazine, Vogue, Luxist and The New York Times