A wander through NoHo and NoLita
Bright lights, big city. Writer and traveller Alexandra Carroll takes us on a stroll through one of her favourite pockets of New York.
Bespoke, artisanal, vintage, limited edition. Welcome to NoLita and NoHo, where the stores that set the benchmark for quality and originality reside. There’s vintage fashion for the collector, interior design spaces to die for, antiques, handcrafted jewellery, gorgeous clothing from the haute to the bohemian and one of the best bookstores in New York.<
The north star for the serious shopper, NoLita (North of Little Italy) and NoHo (North of Houston) were once the scrappy edges of Little Italy and SoHo until the bespoke retailers and style set moved in.
As such, the boundaries of these districts are in contention, and they should be navigated less by street than by the delights of the stores which call them home. However, for the sake of getting you closer to that vintage YSL number you always knew you wanted, head for Lafayette Street. NoLita then spreads its style sensibility east to Elizabeth Street and down to Centre and Grand Streets.
Further north, NoHo can be found east of Broadway and includes the evocatively named Shinbone Alley, though the real retail action is on Great Jones Street and Bond Street. Nearby you’ll also find the Merchant’s House Museum, a meticulously maintained family home from the nineteenth century.
It’s tiny and very exclusive; set your compass and head for the best of the best.
"High-end vintage clothing is elevated to art in NoLita, and lovingly curated."
Fashion haunts, gorgeous jewellery and inspiring antiques
NoLita and NoHo don’t really do mornings (the fashion set need their beauty sleep, after all). However, if you like to start your day before high noon, head to McNally Jackson Books at the corner of Prince and Lafayette. Its cafe is as thoughtfully stocked as its shelves, and around the corner on Mulberry Street you’ll find, side by side, the McNally Jackson Store: Goods for the Study – heaven for those who love their stationery – and Picture Room.
Lafayette Street is NoLIta’s main drag, and here you’ll find the boho styling of Matta, Aurélie Bidermann’s New York flagship store (no. 265), the divine scents of Santa Maria Novella a fun selection of vintage clothing presented decade by decade at Screaming Mimis and rare finds at
Amarcord Vintage Fashion. Amarcord means ‘I remember’ in Romagna dialect, so it’s fitting that its flagship store should be so close to Little Italy.
High-end vintage clothing is elevated to art in NoLita, and lovingly curated. Resurrection at 217 Mott is well edited and beautifully displayed, and Second Time Around at 262 Mott, where ‘resale goes upscale’, has a fantastic collection of fashion’s high priests and priestesses. This enchanting street also has Café Gitane (242 Mott Street), Rebecca Hossack Gallery with its whimsical exhibitions, and Sigerson Morrison at the corner of Prince and Mott.
"Pull up a chair at either of their bars and experience sensational dining, New York style."
Le Labo’s fragrant flagship store is on Elizabeth Street, as are two of the best jewellery stores in New York, Erica Weiner and Love Adorned. Black Seed is for the bagel aficionado, while Cafe Habana’s Cuban sandwich at 17 Prince Street, corner of Elizabeth, gets rave reviews from the locals. For the serious collector Elizabeth Street Gallery is extraordinary, with unusual antique finds from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and quirky additions such as an Abercombie & Fitch vintage leather elephant.
It’s well worth timing your wander in NoHo to catch the 2 pm tour at the Merchant’s House Museum (open Thursday to Sunday). This landmark treasure of NoHo was built in 1832 for wealthy merchant Seabury Tredwell. His daughter Gertrude lived until she was 92, so the residence became something of a time capsule. She died in 1933 and the house was opened as a museum in 1936, with Gertrude rumoured to be still haunting it!
Just over on Great Jones Street at number 29, you’ll find the Great Jones Spa for a spot of pampering, and highly rated furniture store The Future Perfect. Dear: Rivington+ is a top pick for the fashion industry and is an absolute must, with one-off pieces made under its own label, exquisite vintage lace collars and dickies, and a selection of Japanese labels, including Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto. Downstairs its selection of vintage furniture, curios and accessories is outstanding.
Bond Street is home to the eponymous store of Paula Rubenstein – a delightful cache of vintage goods including quilts, textiles, purses, perfume bottles and books – and one of the finest photography bookstores in New York, Dashwood Books. Nearby, Estela (47 East Houston Street) is as intimate as Public (210 Elizabeth Street) is palatial. Pull up a chair at either of their bars and experience sensational dining, New York style.
This is an extract from New York by Alexandra Carroll, available from Pan MacMillan Australia.