Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Manhattan...A City of Colour? Or Monochromes?

I've always associated New York with graphic black and white, perhaps because New Yorkers are fond of black and white. And grey. And silver. And chocolate. I suspect this is because New York's skyline is a Gothamesque movie set of graphic blacks, whites and other understated shades. It's a city built on monochromatic glamour. But lately, I've started to notice that it's a town that actually loves colour. Bold, rich, shout-out-to-the-world-that-you-love-it colour. Okay, so it's not a city that tosses Pucci prints around like pennies, but it does seem to have a secret fetish for unashamedly bright Pantonesque shades.

What do you think? Is it a black and white city? Or does it have a colourful side?

C Wonder is the much-talked-about new(ish) store by the former partner of Tory Burch. A little Kade Spade, a little Jonathan Adler, it has taken colour to a whole new level for this city. Think Kelly green piano stools, teal ottomans and a bright Kelly green lacquered front door. I mean, Wizard of Oz bright. Some people feel it's too bright for NYC, but I think it's been done with wit, whimsy and unexpected class. You can even buy a bicycle in C. Wonder's signature lime green. 72 Spring Street (between Crosby and Lafayette Streets), Soho{Image at very top via}

Designed by that extraordinarily talented duo Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of Roman and Williams, the Breslin is a pea-green and black lacquered delight. The designers  used high-gloss oil paint from Fine Paints of Europe to create the look, which was inspired by moody, Old World, vintage interiors. I'm not mad for the Ace Hotel but I adore this sister space. 20 West 29th Street,  New York{Via Roman & Williams}

When the sun comes out on Manhattan, New Yorkers put on a glowing sartorial show. It's a thrill just to walk up Fifth Avenue sometimes. {Image by Jamie Beck via}

Sex and the City perhaps did more for New York, for fashion and for colour than any other film or TV show about Manhattan has ever done. The outfits were notable for their lines and style but it was the colours that really grabbed your attention. Few costume designers do colour like New York stylist Patricia Field.

The covers of the New York Times' Style magazine are so creative they've almost become the kind you collect. The work the NYT team puts into each one is astounding.  Look at the Fall 2011 Travel issue that featured plants that shifted in colour as they changed through the seasons. And look the Shelf Life cover! So innovative.

New Yorker Caitlin McGauley's exquisite prints have been featured a lot over the blogosphere, but she's still someone to highlight in a story about New York and colour. A former Ralph Lauren textile designer, she now works as a freelance illustrator. I'd love to commission her to do a whole book on the city.

Madeline Weinrib is the master (or mistress?) of colourful rugs. Try entering her dazzling showroom and not leaving without buying a few. (Or at least wanting to.) ABC Carpet & Home, 888 Broadway, New York.

The Lilly Pulitzer store on the Upper East Side is so colourful, it's like walking into the interior of a bunch of balloons. The three-storey boutique has been designed like a gorgeous, glamorous, Carrie-inspired townhouse (a trick Ralph Lauren utilised to make shoppers feel at home), and while it may not be to everyone's taste, it's certainly a whole lot of fun to wander around in. 1020 Madison Avenue. New York.

Sweetie Pie is a kids' bistro but it's still loved by many adults – Gwyneth Paltrow amongst them. And who wouldn't love it, with an interior this delicious? 19 Greenwich Ave (between Christopher and 10th), New York.

ANDRE 3000
Musician, actor, dancer, producer, businessman and fashion designer André Benjamin (a.k.a. André 3000 from OutKast) is one talented man. He may not be a native New Yorker but he spends a lot of time there for work and before he launched his fashion collections in the city, he took advice from Anna Wintour. (I'm sure she told him to ramp up his colour palette even more than he usually does.) I love his style. I almost wish he'd produce a women's range of fashion. I think it would go down well in St Barts, Harbour Island, Miami or Portofino.

Have you ever seen such a handsome man walking the streets of New York? This beautifully turned out gentleman was snapped by Style Clicker and featured on the great blog Advanced Age. His name is Arthur and he's a retired model. (Oh come on Arthur, you've still got it!) On this day he had chosen to wear a tailor-made pink suit, Italian shoes, Stetson hat, and a custom-made tie & square. Now that's what I call a sense of style. {Via}

The glamorous, finely tuned aesthetic from the Firmdale Hotel group, which own Crosby Street, is among the most admired in the design business. Just look at the hotel bedrooms – and the pencils they provide! I always purchase a box of pencils whenever I stay at a Firmdale Hotel. They perfectly reflect Firmdale's aesthetic: simple, sophisticated, creative. 79 Crosby Street, SoHo.

Ah, Kate Spade. How much do I love you? Let me count the ways. (Or the lines.) You may have been sold off and some of your magic may have disappeared, but walking into your New York stores is still a breath of fresh design air! 135 Fifth Avenue and 454 Broome Street, SoHo. 

Oscar de la Renta's show was arguably the highlight of New York's recent Fashion Week, and this lemon-lime chiffon dream was perhaps the highlight of Oscar's show. {Via}

This sexy rooftop terrace sits atop the sophisticated interior of the always-fabulous W Hotel. Wouldn't you just want to stay out here at night, watching the sky change colour and the lights start to glow? {Via W Hotel}

The always gorgeous Vesuvio bakery. This startlingly green facade has become so famous it has featured in a coffee commercial with Robert de Niro, ads for New York, and countless fashion shoots and video clips. 160 Prince Street, SoHo. {Note: I have heard it has closed, so if you're going to NY and want to see, perhaps investigate first?}


  1. I really love the green used at the Breslin!
    From one Janelle who is crazy about NYC to another....hello.....
    I enjoyed finding your blog and will swing by again...

    Janelle x

  2. The kelly green doors are an inspiration!!!!
    Although I have never been and never really thought about it before I found that when I did I thought of it as black and grey!
    What a wonderful image you have now put in my head of a city that fairly bounces with colour!!!!
    Julienne xx

  3. Oh we have those pencils knocking about somewhere too!


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