At Americana Manhasset, the salespeople know your closet better than you do. They call designers in Paris or Milan to find the perfect little black dress. They deliver soup when you’re ill.
Situated on Long Island’s Gold Coast, about 30 minutes from Manhattan, the open-air shopping center is one of several American malls that have figured out how to thrive by catering to One Percenters.
Americana Manhasset’s 60 shops sell the priciest status brands — Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Cartier, Prada. Some customers spend more than $100,000 a year and five times that if they’re planning a wedding or buying fine jewelry. Danielle Merollo, the mall’s personal shopper, recently accompanied a client to a private Prada show in New York to buy a bespoke fur cape.
“Danielle always finds what I need,” said the client, Cynthia Rosicki, an attorney who also runs the Sparkling Pointe vineyard.
Even as middle-class Americans struggle with stagnant wages and demand deals that are hurting discount chains, wealthy shoppers are helping fuel sales at luxury retailers. Total retail sales are projected to grow 4.1 percent this holiday season — the highest rate in three years, according to the National Retail Federation.
Still, with malls closing all around the country, the proprietors of Americana Manhasset can take nothing for granted. Each year the services get more lavish, the shops larger and more resplendent. Stores that aren’t hitting sales targets don’t get their leases renewed. While luxury retail is relatively immune to Web disruption, the mall is adding blogs and videos featuring the latest fashions to its website.
“We know our customers can shop anywhere — and they travel a lot — so we have to go overboard with service,” said Deirdre Costa Major, president of mall owner Castagna Realty Co.’s retail group.
Americana Manhasset shuns the word mall, preferring “premier shopping destination.” And with its limestone shopfronts, granite sidewalks and colorful flower beds, the place looks nothing like the original strip mall that opened in 1956 with a drive-through bank, ice-cream parlor, moderate-priced retailers including Lerner’s and Bakers Shoes and, later, a Waldbaum’s supermarket.
The shopping center might have ended up like so many other malls — losing customers, teetering on the edge of oblivion — were it not for the foresight of Frank Castagna, Castagna Realty’s chairman.
In the 1980s, Castagna concluded Americana could be more successful if it catered to the wealthy residents on Long Island’s North Shore. Increasing numbers of newly affluent professionals and entrepreneurs were moving to Manhasset, Great Neck and other suburbs within driving distance of the mall, and there was an abundance of old wealth in other Gold Coast towns, where the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts built their country mansions and F. Scott Fitzgerald set “The Great Gatsby.”
“I’ve lived in this area for 60 years, so I knew we had customers who wanted luxury products and no one else here was serving them,” Castagna said.
The trick was persuading locals to shop in the area rather than head to Madison Avenue boutiques or jet to Paris. Castagna took heart from Hirshleifers, a family-run store in the mall already doing a brisk business selling Armani and Chanel. As old leases expired, Castagna wooed top-tier retailers and Hirshleifers kept expanding. Renowned architect Peter Marino, the go-to designer for luxury brands, gave Americana a facelift; landscape architects added greenery and created a meadow around the shopping center’s perimeter.
Americana was among the first to link retailing and charity, now a popular practice at many department stores. In 1996, Castagna, a board member of a half dozen Long Island nonprofits, started Champions for Charity, which is held the first week of every December; customers direct 25 percent of the price of their purchases to local causes.
Americana sponsors a charity event almost every month. An Armani fashion show in September benefiting women’s health for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Center, drew about 600 women who, after a three-course lunch, bought clothing they’d seen on models. A car show and contest in early October, featuring vintage Porsches, restored Bentleys and other luxury autos, raised more than $40,000 for Sunrise Day Camp, for children with cancer.
Castagna’s original hunch paid off. A designer boom that began in the Reagan years has continued almost unabated for three decades. In recent years, luxury retailers have benefited from the increasing concentration of income and wealth. In 2012, the top 1 percent of Americans held more than one-third of all U.S. wealth and the richest of these, the top 0.1 percent, with at least $20 million in assets, held 23.5 percent of U.S. wealth, according to economist Gabriel Zucman. Americana generates $1,800 in sales per square foot, more than triple the national average, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
“Luxury malls are doing better and not just because they’re targeting customers with a lot of disposable income,” said Mortimer Singer, a fashion-industry consultant. “The most successful have turned traditional malls inside out, replacing dreary supermarket-like aisles with outdoor spaces and offering food and entertainment as well as upscale fashions.”
Yet at 86, Castagna still spends part of each workday walking around stores to gauge what’s selling. He and his staff know that unless Americana Manhasset offers a shopping experience customers can’t get anywhere else, they’ll decamp to New York or to online luxury sites such as Net-A-Porter.com.
On a recent Friday morning, Tova Soto, a buyer and senior manager at Hirshleifers, arrived for work at 8 a.m., as soon as the store’s alarm system was turned off. She wanted several hours to prepare for a shopping visit from a longstanding customer, who was bringing along two friends.
Soto knew the sizes and tastes of each woman and canvassed the storeroom and store racks, handpicking an array of pants, shirts, dresses, coats and accessories. She and her assistant steamed and carefully hung the clothes — selecting handbags, scarves, belts, jewelry and shoes to complete different outfits. The customers were ushered to spacious fitting rooms, where they each found themselves in “a store, within a store, designed just for them,” Soto said.
After spending three hours trying everything on, the women purchased a wardrobe full of clothes, including a gray Stella McCartney jacket for $1,935 and skinny gray pants for $800, a Brunello Cucinelli silver-trimmed cardigan for $2,745 and a $6,835 shearling coat and an Avant Toi top for $1,880. Two of the shoppers each purchased short gray suede Manolo Blahnik boots for $1,045 a pair.
Hirshleifers treated the women to lunch at Cipollini Trattoria, one of the mall’s two upscale restaurants. Like Toku Modern Asian restaurant a few yards away, Cipollini was packed. While the women ate lunch and visited with one another, Hirshleifers’ shoe salon stretched their new boots.
Like Soto, Americana’s Merollo is a combination personal shopper, stylist and therapist. She helped one customer furnish her home and buy a car, “because she trusts my taste,” traveled in September to Paris with another to see the fall fashion shows and once spent part of her own vacation in Italy searching for lace for a shopper.
“What I do most is listen, so I can figure out what a customer needs,” she said. Sometimes that’s a handbag and sometimes it’s handholding.
Jacki Rogoff has shopped at Americana for 25 years. Her favorite store is Hirshleifers, now managed by the founding family’s fifth generation. Rogoff, who runs a Long Island nonprofit, says buyer Lori Hirshleifer caters to her exacting tastes.
“You won’t find what they have in Saks Fifth Avenue, because they have close relationships with vendors so they get one-of-a-kind items,” said Rogoff, who recently purchased several pairs of Jon Buscemi leather sneakers, which sell for $865 and have golden padlocks dangling from the ankle straps.
Behind the scenes, Castagna continues to tweak the formula. A recent renovation of more than half a dozen brands features curated art at Dior and Chanel fitting rooms the size of studio apartments where customers can while away afternoons trying on clothes and having lunch. The Hermes store will triple in size. Banana Republic, one of the mall’s few mass-market chains, is making way for the more upscale Rag & Bone.
The proprietors are adapting to changing demographics. More than 25 percent of the mall’s shoppers are ethnic Chinese and Koreans living on Long Island or in Queens, who bring along relatives visiting from overseas. Americana has advertised in the World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the U.S. More than half the center’s stores now employ at least one Mandarin-speaking sales associate.
Mindful of encroachment from the Web, Hirshleifers has partnered with the luxury site Farfetch.com so customers can buy some of its styles online.
For Rogoff, abandoning the mall’s personal service for the soulless experience of shopping on Web is unfathomable.
“Americana is like a fantasy land,” she said. “Shopping there is effortless and beautiful, with the reliability of a great car. It’s a destination.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Carol Hymowitz in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at email@example.com Kevin Orland
NEWSDAY, LUXURY LIVING MAGAZINE
SPRING / SUMMER 2013
Many designers honed in on these particular themes, so they can be found in a range of styles, from edgy to classic, depending on your taste. There’s something for everyone in each category, and plenty of beautiful, interesting pieces that can be incorporated seamlessly into an existing wardrobe. Most importantly, you’ll get plenty of wear out of them, from spring into summer and beyond.
Many people find pastels challenging. The key is understanding how to accessorize so you don’t feel “washed out.” For example, both Zac Posen and Altuzarra offer gorgeous blush-toned dresses this season, the first in a flirty feminine cut, the second in a sophisticated, fitted style. Pair a printed chiffon scarf with the first and colorful jewels with the second to add texture and punch while off-setting the neutrality of the dresses. Similarly, when considering your make-up, opt for a strong lip or a smoky eye to create some contrast. Last but not least, have fun with your handbag. Gem-toned accessories create the perfect counterpoint to a pastel outfit. Why not choose a deep cobalt blue bag to go with a pastel pink or yellow blouse, or pair a fuschia bag with a pale blue dress? Some find pastel prints easier to pull off than solids, and Giorgio Armani and Tory Burch, to name just two, have beautiful pastel printed collections this season. But if you just don’t feel comfortable in pastel ready-to-wear, you can still partake in this trend. There are plenty of lovely pastel accessories to pair with everything, from black to white. One of my favorites this season is Burberry’s heavenly pink and lavender clutch.
Designers had so much fun with metallic this season! While there is plenty of fabulous shimmer and shine for evening, as you might expect from designers such as Tom Ford and Dior, there are also stunning yet very wearable metallic pieces for daytime. Lanvin’s collection is filled with skirts, blazers, dresses and more, all in gorgeous gold and glimmering gem tones. While the models on the runway were seen in head-to-toe metallic, that doesn’t mean you can’t tone the look down, wearing just a metallic pant with a simple black tank for a chic, fun look. Similarly, Philip Lim’s purple metallic sleeveless blouse at Hirshleifers can be dressed up with a black pencil skirt and a classic pump or dressed down with white jeans and a flat sandal. Accessories get into the metallic mix this season too. Shoes and bags are an easy way to add some glam to a simple daytime outfit. Gucci’s colorful metallic high-heeled sandals will take any look up a notch and Loewe’s gunmetal tophandle bag adds some cool sheen to even the
most casual of outfits. For a retro vibe, try J.Crew’s silver oxfords paired with skinny jeans and a white T-shirt.
BOLD STATEMENT PIECES
Accessories and jewelry offer great ways to make a statement and designers pulled out all the stops this season. Gucci’s exaggerated fringe bag is a show-stopper, for example, as are Laurence Decade’s flowered ankle boots, available at Hirshleifers. Big, bold cuffs, and fun, funky necklaces are found everywhere, from Dior and London Jewelers to Intermix and Anne Fontaine.
FROM RUNWAY TO REAL LIFE
As with metallics, it’s important to find the right balance of daring and restraint when it comes to making a major fashion statement. Designers from Lanvin to Louis Vuitton featured some fabulous yet far out looks on the runway that we all agree would be tough to pull off in “real life.” Consider these runway looks inspiration and a catalyst for finding your own inner fashionista. Your translation doesn’t have to be literal. Dare to wear one of Prada’s bold printed dresses, but don’t feel the need to pair it with the designer’s knee-high leggings. And maybe instead of Ralph Lauren’s black and white checkered 3-piece suit, you forego the vest and blazer and make a statement with just the pants, pairing them with a white silk blouse and a chunky necklace. Fashion is all about the individual, so be creative, be bold, but still be yourself.
THE TRENDS DANIELLE WILL BE SEEN IN THIS SEASON
All three! I’m a fan of trends that will withstand the test of time. Pastels, metallics and bold statement pieces may be particularly popular this season, but I have no doubt that all of the looks and pieces we’ve discussed here have the potential to become favorites that you’ll go back to over and over again in seasons to come.
The mall used to be a place to pick up a pair of khakis. But now, many malls have had some “work done” . . . facelifts, renovations and major makeovers, aimed at seducing high-end shoppers. This trend has freshened up retail with an overwhelming selection of top-tier global brands. In fact, today’s “luxury malls” are providing services worthy of the finest five-star hotels, including concierges who’ll get tickets and book restaurants; personal shoppers; exclusive lounges; and fine dining options.
A shopper used to have to travel overseas to purchase the finest French and Italian designer shoes, handbags and clothing, but now the best luxury malls in America rival world-class shopping avenues in Paris and Milan. There’s no passport required, however, and there’s plenty of valet parking, so this is a great time to start experiencing shopping like a VIP.
BEVERLY CENTER, LOS ANGELES
Beverly Center is situated in star-studded Los Angeles, so expect some Hollywood glamour, diva-type amenities and lots of celebrity-hosted events. Their concierge can arrange for a car or limo service, or drive into the Grand Valet and go express direct to Level 7, called the Luxury Wing. There’s shopping assistance in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and six other languages, and 100 stores accept the Union Pay card used by international clients. Personal stylists who often work for top celebrities are available to shop with or style you. If you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop, Beverly Center can even arrange the Penthouse Suite at the elegant Sofitel Hotel, right next door.
Shop: Saint Laurent, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace Collection, Halston Heritage and Salvatore Ferragamo.
THE SHOPS AT CRYSTALS AT CITYCENTER, LAS VEGAS
Expect over-the-top style with your shopping in Las Vegas. The Shops at Crystals at CityCenter look like a 21st century park with a flower carpet, ice sculptures, a multi-faceted glass canopy and a three-story sculptural Tree House – every time you visit it’s a new, interactive experience. World-renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s dynamic glass sculptures add to the excitement, along with rotating fashion exhibits. The exceptional concierge service can secure reservations at restaurants and shows within the MGM Resorts International collection and personal shoppers will bring the latest to you. With an accent on sustainability — it’s the world’s largest LEED Gold certified retail district — they offer electric vehicle charging within the complimentary 24-hour valet. The largest Louis Vuitton store in North America is here, plus more high-end flagship stores than any other shopping center in America.
Shop: Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, H. Stern, Bulgari, Cartier, Tom Ford, Emilio Pucci, Marni, Lanvin and Tourbillon.
SOUTH COAST PLAZA, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF.
South Coast Plaza, in upscale Orange County, beckons you to relax and shop in style in their Access Lounge. The elegantly decorated VIP shopping suite — with a Zen room for her and a flat screen TV for him — features complimentary champagne and refreshments. Their dedicated concierge can make reservations for restaurants and theaters, and their stylists assist international clients in Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Farsi. Many of their boutiques will take merchandise along with a tailor off-site to accommodate guests staying at nearby luxury resorts.
Shop: Calypso St. Barth, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Christian Louboutin, La Perla, Roger Vivier, Patek Philippe, Valentino.
THE SHOPS AT BRAVERN, BELLEVUE, WASH.
A jewel nestled in Seattle’s wealthy Bellevue section, The Shops at Bravern is the destination for the young, entrepreneurial tech community looking to upgrade their casual style. This outdoor, European-inspired village with inside and outside fireplaces even welcomes shoppers’ dogs. An outpost of New York’s David Barton Gym is on-site so you can work out with a trainer. Afterwards, get pampered with a deluxe spa treatment at the Red Door Spa. Finish off the night at Wild Ginger, one of Seattle’s top five restaurants.
Shop: Jimmy Choo, Hermès, Neiman Marcus, Wolford, Louis Vuitton and David Lawrence Boutique, who carries labels Viktor & Rolf and Hervé Léger.
AMERICANA MANHASSET, MANHASSET, N.Y.
Designed by internationally acclaimed “starchitect” Peter Marino, Americana Manhasset is on the tony North Shore of Long Island, only 20 minutes from New York City. Worlds away from a concrete box, the modern glass buildings in the open air are surrounded by seasonally landscaped gardens. Unlike other malls, there are no department stores here.
Settle into the private shopping suite to review clothing, get a wardrobe consult, or partake of custom tailoring; a personal shopper has access to every label in every store. The one-of-a-kind 14,000 square foot Hirschleifers multi-brand boutique satisfies even the most demanding fashionista.
Shop with an Italian slant: Brunello Cucinelli, Etro, Bottega Veneta, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Loro Piana, Prada … then stop off at the Cipollini Trattoria & Bar.
BAL HARBOUR SHOPS, BAL HARBOUR, FLA.
The exclusive shops in Florida’s sunny Bal Harbour are nestled in between koi ponds and palm trees. Famous for their concept stores, one-of-a-kind merchandise and limited edition items, Bal Harbour tantalizes shoppers with a constantly updated website. Consumers literally fly in from all over the world to peruse the high-fashion goods here, often having been titillated by Bal Harbour magazine, a trend-packed fashion glossy which promotes the mall and its luminary designers.
The Neiman Marcus store and the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort have just partnered to provide a unique “Closet Service” where guests can have wardrobe pieces pre-selected especially for them; they can expect to find the items in their room upon check-in.
Shop: Moncler, Alexander McQueen, Piaget, de Grisogono, Graff, Versace, Miu Miu, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Roberto Cavalli, the new Chanel boutique.
SANTA MONICA PLACE, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.
If you like to shop inhaling fresh sea air, two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica Place is perfect. The third floor open-air rooftop deck features “The Market” a gourmet, artisanal delight of local and organic food offerings. There’s even a raw food restaurant. You may want to catch a professional level class at the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories should you tire of shopping. A money exchange buys and sells more than 80 currencies and their concierge can book tours and sporting events.
Shop: Louis Vuitton, Kitson, Burberry, Ted Baker London, Tiffany & Co., Barney’s CO-OP, All Saints Spitalfields.
Coney Island never looked as good as in Americana Manhasset’s hyper-realistic holiday/resort book and advertising campaign, bursting with bright color. The luxury shopping center in Manhasset, N.Y., was inspired by Northeast beach communities such as Coney Island, Atlantic Beach and Rockaway Beach, areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Immediately following the storm, Americana donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross and held a drive to gather supplies for families in need.
“We wanted to send a message of continued support by bringing our business and our attention to the shore one year later,” said Andrea Sanders, senior vice president and creative director. “There’s still a lot of work to be done in those areas, which we witnessed. We’re calling attention back to that area and showing how important the shore is to our communities, in a subtle way.” Charles DeCaro, co-owner of Laspata DeCaro, said, “It was really a celebration of this part of American culture that was on the brink of oblivion and is back better than ever.” Models Lindsey Wixson and RJ King brought a playful youthfulness to the campaign, which includes shots of the two riding bumper cars, Wixson in front of the Parachute Jump, an iconic no-longer-functioning ride, and with balloons outside Luna Park at Coney Island.
A two-minute video has a slightly darker take on Coney Island with graffiti and slightly rusted signs.
NEW YORK — The Americana Manhasset is walking the walk and talking the talk — in Chinese.
The upscale, open-air center in Manhasset, N.Y., was the sole sponsor of a 12-page advertising-editorial section in the March 9 issue of the Chinese World Journal. Images from the Americana’s spring advertising campaign, which happens to feature designs with Asian undercurrents, are featured in the section.
“We have a very significant Asian client base at the Americana,” said Andrea Sanders, senior vice president and creative director. “There’s a very large Chinese community and the Korean community is substantial as well. The World Journal section is part of a larger initiative, which is to make everyone feel welcome at the Americana.
World Journal is the largest Chinese language newspaper in the U.S. Americana wanted to make an impactful statement rather than occasionally running ads in the paper. “We wanted to communicate with the [customers] more thoroughly and in a more substantial way,” Sanders said. “A lot of potential customers in that community may not know us that well. This big section with ads and editorial in Chinese allowed us to tell a bigger story about Americana. If Chinese is their first language, there’s a trust factor with the World Journal.”
The center is helping retailers such as Chanel, Burberry, Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior and Oscar de la Renta learn about China Union Pay as a form of payment. The national bank card of China works like a credit card. The Americana staffs its concierge desk with a Chinese speaker. “Many of our stores have Chinese-speaking sales associates, and those that don’t are looking to hire them,” Sanders said. “They want to make sure everyone can communicate with someone in the store.”
Just as awareness of luxury brands has grown in China, recognition of high-end brands has increased within the local Chinese communities in the U.S. “We’ve seen a lot of economic growth and affluence in terms of the [local] Chinese community,” Sanders said. “We’ve seen a huge increase in Chinese home owners on Long Island.”
The Americana recently translated its store directories into Chinese and Korean. Its translations of Web pages into Chinese will be ready by mid-year.
Americana Manhasset takes stress out of shopping.
With crowds, long lines, piles of clothes, and messy fitting rooms, shopping can be an overwhelming task. If shopping ’til you drop isn’t really your style, Americana Manahsset offers another alternative.
Danielle Merollo is the director of personal shopping at Americana Manhasset, the area’s luxury shopping center that boasts nearly 70 high end stores including Dior, Gucci, Alice and Olivia, Oscar de la Renta, and Tory Burch. Customers can email or call in a request, such as something to wear to a wedding or on vacation, and a personal shopper will pull items from stores that match both the customer’s request and thei personality.
Clients can then come in to the private, personal shopping suites at Americana and try on all their clothes at once. Instead of multiple dressing rooms and sorting through racks of clothes, this unique shopping experience presents customers with a selection of clothes handpicked to suit their tastes and needs.
“It’s very personalized, and very attention oriented to the client,” Merollo says.
Merollo and her team work to provide customers clothes that are not only fashionable, but that they can be comfortable in.
I’m not going to sell them something that looks inappropriate on them or that when they look at it in their closet they think ‘why did I buy that.’ I’m very strict that it has to be something they’re comfortable in, that makes them feel pretty and that they love,” Merollo said,
Merollo continually stays up to date with the latest fashion trends, attending shows in New York and Europe. She also always knows what’s in Americana’s stores, saying that she’s in all of them at least once a week.
But when it comes to fashion, Merollo says its important that clients know what suits them, not just what’s in fashion.
“Styling is becoming more of an ownership of your personality. A lot of people tend to look at a magazine and say ‘I love that style’ but they try it on and it doesn’t fit their personality or how they carry themselves. I try to help them find a look for them that’s comfortable,” Merollo said.
She also encourages clients to try new fashions they might not think they can pull off.
“I try getting people to change out of their comfort zone, not build a whole wardrobe, but little things that you can do subtly for clients and then they take ownership for themselves,” Merollo said.
Lately, Merollo says she has been pulling very feminine and flirty outfits, with lots of dresses, florals and color blocking. She’s been styling men with fun, leather pieces and comfortable jeans.
The personal shoppers at Americana pull together complete outfits-accessories, shoes, jackets and more. Merollo has dressed men and women of all ages, and encourages everyone to try this complimentary service at Americana.
“It’s really a fun place. It’s great for people to try. Personal styling and shopping makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do yourself,” Merollo says.
To find out more and to make an appointment, call 800.818.6767 or visit www.americanamanhasset.com/personal-shopper.
VIBRANT VIETNAM: An Eastern wind ruffling through the Spring 2013 runways caught the attention of Andrea Sanders, senior vice president and creative director of Americana Manhasset. “There were Asian undercurrents throughout the collections,” she said. Longtime collaborators Rocco Laspata and Charles DeCaro, partners in the ad agency Laspata/DeCaro, agreed.
So, the team high-tailed it to Hoi An, Vietnam, known for its foliage and numerous bodies of water, to shoot the Americana’s 60-page spring catalogue, “In the Mood for Vietnam.” A 30-second film will air on New York City Taxi TV during fashion week and a behind-the-scenes video will be seen on the Americana’s Web site.
Images of the lush landscape are punctuated by bursts of saturated color — red, blue, pink and yellow — as vivid as the lanterns lining a Hoi An bridge. Villagers dressed in the traditional peasant uniform of silk pajamas carry baskets slung over their shoulders filled with bright fruit and flowers. It’s hard for the locals not to stare at model Arizona Muse standing on the bridge, off to the right and wearing a Louis Vuitton coat that barely skims her thighs.
“The country shares equal billing with Arizona and [model] Zhao Lei,” said DeCaro. “The people added this whole sense of [authenticity]. Usually, we tend to blur the background, but we kept the backgrounds in focus. It was important to make the model one with the environment.”
At the Imperial City in Hue, Muse and Lei stand in front of a slightly decaying palace, dressed in Etro and holding pinkies like shy lovers. Americana’s 50 retailers lent some of their most spectacular styles for the shoot. Examples include a dramatic royal blue Tom Ford dress with huge billowing sleeves attached to the bottom of the dress and Kaufman Franco’s long sequin gown with a sky-high slit. Muse stands in a boat on a lake towering over fishermen wearing straw coolie hats. Muse looks etherial in front of a wall of painterly-looking blotches in a David Yurman image. A shot of Muse in a café wearing Bottega Veneta looks shows the model looking similarly calm and sultry, warmed by the glow of golden lanterns. It belies the torrential rainstorm that lasted five hours and drenched the crew. “The Bottega image is steamy and a little bit elusive,” DeCaro said. “Just like the country.”
VROOM VROOM: Fancy cars pull into the Americana Manhasset luxury center every day. But earlier this month there was an extraordinary cavalcade of 200 rare, vintage vehicles for the 8th annual Americana Manhasset Concours d’Elegence.
The owners competed for various awards, and the sale of raffle tickets, priced $250, benefitted the Sunrise Day Camp for children with cancer and their siblings. Alexander C. Klatt, vice president of global design of Fisker Automotive was guest of honor.
Among the winning vehicles, the 1953 Fiat 8V took the trend-setter award and the 1964 Ford GT 40 won best in competition. Both vehicles are owned by Autosport Design. The best in show went to the 1947 Ferrari 159S Chassis Number 002C, owned by James Glickenhaus. “It’s the oldest surviving Ferrari. It’s unbelieveable. It looks like an box car race car, with no roof and a windshield no bigger than an iPad,” observed Dierdre Costa Major, president of Americana Manhasset on Long Island. Glickenhaus, who is from Rye, N.Y., added to the spectacle by driving into the Americana’s parking lot wearing an old leather helmet. “He’s got a most unusual collection for sure,” Costa Major noted. All the winners received Tiffany crystal awards. “Eight years ago, we staged a Ferrari-only event with over 200 red Ferraris from the neighborhood. But other companies wanted to be included so we opened up the competition.”
MANHASSET – Fashion Week kicks off today in the city and will preview some spring lines, but here on Long Island, malls are gearing up for fall’s top trends.
According to personal shopper Danielle Merollo, the hot item for the fall is leather, which includes everything from a jacket to leggings!
And adding a touch of color to your wardrobe during the cooler months will make your clothes pop. Try cobalt blue, says Merollo.
And you don’t have to travel to Manhattan for a Fashion Night out. Just head to the Americana Mall in Manhasset. Get more information here, Fashion’s Night Out.
Danielle Merollo, Americana Manhasset’s secret weapon, is not just a personal shopper in the fashion realm. If she’s not scooping up Tom Ford and Prada for her clients (ages 7 through 80), she may be purchasing cars (Bentleys, even an antique Ferrari) and NYC apartments for them. “When a woman trusts another woman, there is trust all around,” she reasons. Merollo has been at the Long Island luxury-shopping destination for the past decade, and for her loyal following, it’s her round-the-clock service and extra attention that keeps her on speed dial. “I’ve planned two weddings,” Merollo says, “and for one of the brides, I also did her Communion dress!” Now that’s a repeat customer.
As the dog days fade into cooler nights, the new season’s trends are calling. And you want to know, “What should I wear?”
Fall has always been my favorite season, but I especially love how designers are combining different luxe fabrics and textures this year. I’m also excited about the unique shapes in coats and the heavier sweaters I’m seeing.
Céline is doing the heavier sweaters really well. They are thick but shaped to the body, so they don’t look too bulky and they give you the ability to layer on accessories. When it comes to blending different fabrics, Brunello Cucinelli does it beautifully with cashmeres and silks. Givenchy also has some great fabric combinations with unexpected shapes. One of my favorites this year is their brown tweed blazer with red sleeves. It’s trim with small shoulders and fitted to the body in the front, but then it has a surprising, unstructured swing back. And the look is good for all body types—anyone can mix and match different fabrics, especially if you stick with a variety of neutral tones. Grays and browns, for example, look great together.
Combining fabrics and textures is not necessarily a new trend (neither are big sweaters) but each season gives us a unique twist on old favorites. While fashion is always changing, it is also always referencing itself. Platform shoes were around in the late 1960s, but that doesn’t mean we are running to our mother’s closet to pull them out. They have a modern and luxe twist this season, as seen on the Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu runways. Likewise, this fall’s big sweaters are more refined than the oversized sweaters of the 1980s. Plus, they feel fresh because we are pairing them with different fabrics and styles, like leather leggings.
When it comes to fall, I always have a varied selection of outerwear, ranging from a great fur vest to a heavy tweed blazer and beyond. I love wearing leggings or skinny jeans with a full sweater or top to cover all the sins I like to hide. It’s part of my favorite fashion rule to break—I wear tunics without a belt all the time. With a pair of great heels, it works. Which is why, although I may change my style often, I keep to a signature style when it comes to shoes: The higher the better!
Layering different materials will definitely transition into resort and spring. Wear a long silky tank topped with a lightweight cashmere sweater, roll up the sleeves and pair it with jeans. Or take a blazer that you wore over a turtleneck this fall and wear it as a spring jacket over an embellished t-shirt once the weather warms. I always gravitate toward pieces like these that will have multiple uses for my clients.
If you’re looking ahead, watch for bright colors and unstructured dresses for the 2012-2013 resort season. To accessorize this hot style, throw on a long beaded necklace (or two) and a killer pair of sunglasses, and you’re good to go.
Whether it’s a unique store or a massive shopping complex, Long Island has no shortage of retail establishments. But the greatest shopping experience is having someone do it for you. Personal shoppers are a luxury worth trying, and they’re more accessible than people think. Independent personal shoppers often work on an hourly wage, but a number of these experts work on commission or earn a salary to help you at their particular shopping venue. They’ll join you on your hunt or bring the finds to your home or office, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
AMERICANA’S SILENT FALL: Long Island’s Americana Manhasset looked to “The Artist” for its fall catalogue, “Speechless,” an homage to black-and-white silent movies. The catalogue comes out in mid-August, when a short silent film, “Speechless,” and a behind-the scenes, silent look at the making of the book will be posted on Americana’s Web site. The “Speechless” film will also air on Taxi TV during fashion week. The Americana even hired four-legged star Uggie, the scene-stealing Jack Russell terrier who appears in “The Artist.”
Charles DeCaro, creative director of ad agency Laspata DeCaro, was smitten by the canine. “It’s as if he’s actually acting,” he said. “He has this sense of timing. He gets it. He’s really a star.” Karlie Kloss plays the ingenue and Clément Chabernaud is her costar. Each image has its own narrative, such as the one with Kloss, wearing a Burberry Prorsum coat, walking through a soundstage where “extras” dressed as Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin and Tom Mix play cards and read the newspaper. On a studio back lot, Kloss, in a St. John flapper dress, holds out an imaginary treat to a primed Uggie, and under the heat of spotlights, Kloss, wearing a beaded and fringed dress and cloche, kicks up her Jimmy Choos and does the Charleston.
Americana Manhasset chose the catalogue’s theme based on the fall collections, many of which “harkened to the past in some way, especially the Twenties and Thirties, but with a modern twist,” said Andrea Sanders, senior vice president and creative director. The catalogue was shot at Paramount Studios and several private homes in Los Angeles.
LUXURY IS COMING to Abu Dhabi, and in a big way.
The Galleria at Sowwah Square has lined up more then 80 brands, filling in more than 70 percent of the leasable space well ahead of its planned August or September 2013 opening.
Among the confirmed tenants are Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Boucheron, Bulgari, Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Prada, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Harry Winston, IWC, Jimmy Choo, Lanvin, Tom Ford, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paul Smith and Ermenegildo Zegna.
Other tenants signed on are Celine, Diane von Furstenberg, Mulberry, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, CH Carolina Herrera, Coach, Diesel, Hackett, La Martina, Kenzo, Lacoste, Longchampe, Sephora, Superdry, Swarovsky and Vilebrequin.
The two-level, 355,000-square-foot retail and restaurant project is being developed jointly by Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality, an arm of the Abu Dhabi government, and Gulf Related, a unit of Related Urban. Chalhoub Group, Al Tayer Insignia and Richemont Group executed the leases. Additional retailers, as well as restaurants, will be named soon.
“We are oversubscribed with this project,” said Ken Himmel, co-managing partner of Gulf Related and president and chief executive officer of the parent Related Urban. “We are sitting with 40 tenants covering 200,000 square feet who are on the wait list. We saw a very large void for all the enormous buying power in Abu Dhabi where there’s very little luxury retail.” At this point, “Everyone shops Dubai, which is an hour and a half away.”
“For the first time, Abu Dhabi has a collection of luxury retail that rivals any capital city in the world,” said Mortimer Singer, president of Marvin Traub Associates, which consulted on the project and worked on the leasing.
“There’s an uncanny connection to Time Warner Center,” also developed by Related, Himmel said. Both qualify as “world class” centers, he said, which by his definition integrates high-end retailing, dining, a luxury hotel, public spaces and high-rise towers for first-class offices. At both centers there are also stores for bridge labels for an aspirational appeal.
According to Singer, The Galleria at Sowwah Square has “its own spirit” and though it’s a mixed-use center, also has “a street feel’” he said. “At The Galleria we created the same effect of Madison or Fifth Avenue.”
Himmel said that of the 350,000 square feet of leasable space, about 30 percent is “true, true luxury. If you go to a major shopping mall, even high-end malls, you’re talking 10 percent luxury.” Bal Harbour Shoppes in Miami, and the Americana, in Manhasset, N.Y., are exceptions, with 50 percent or more luxury, he said. Himmel projects The Galleria will generate $1,000 in sales per square foot.
Aside from the luxury labels, “There are others that will be more democratic,” Singer said. “This is a major luxury center so we are very cognizant that we need to populate it with other more democratic brands, which we aren’t announcing yet,” pending some lease signings.
Among the amenities: waterfront terraced restaurants, a café court, valet parking and climate-controlled pedestrian corridors that will provide indoor access to neighboring residential and commercial developments. There’s also a sculptural glass and steel atrium roof for views of Abu Dhabi’s skyline.
The Galleria, with 225,000 square feet of retail space and 125,000 square feet of restaurants and a food hall, will be a major component of Sowwah Square, a five-million-square-foot mixed-use project by Mubadala Development under construction for the past three years. Sowwah Square also includes Rosewood and Four Seasons hotels, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, about 2 million square feet of office space and a stock exchange.
Feb 14, 2012
‘Americana Manhasset Drives More Than 1.7M Impressions Via Location-Based Ads’
by Lauren Johnson, Mobile Marketer
Luxury shopping center Americana Manhasset recently used a rich mobile advertising campaign to bolster in-store traffic and sales with 1.75 million impressions.
Americana Manhasset’s mobile ad campaign included video, store locator and mobile Web efforts among others. Americana Manhasset worked with digital agency Morpheus Media and mobile ad platform Mobsmith on this initiative.
“Mobile advertising enables a brand to reach a new group of audience members in a quick way,” said Ingrid Lestiyo, cofounder/CEO of Mobsmith, San Francisco, CA.
“It also lets brands such as Americana Manhasset gain access to high-end consumers,” she said.
Americana Manhasset is a high-end shopping center in Long Island, NY with 60 luxury stores, including Chanel, Gucci and Cartier.
Americana Manhasset’s mobile ad campaign ran during the holiday shopping season from Nov. 21 to Dec. 24.
The mobile ads were served to consumers both in applications and on mobile Web sites to users who were nearby to the shopping center.
The ads included four main functions – a click-to-call feature, video, mobile Web and an option to see stores listed.
The creative of the ads was divided with a video on the top half of the smartphone screen with a gallery below that let users scroll through three different screens.
According to Mobsmith, the video claimed 50 percent of actionable clicks, showing the prominent role that rich media features such as video play in mobile advertising.
Additionally, the average viewing time of the video was ten seconds, proving that although mobile video is strong, mobile consumers have a short attention span and marketers need to keep video components short and sweet.
Finding gift items and a store’s nearest location were also high areas for actionable clicks.
Users could also visit Americana Manhasset’s mobile Web site at http://m.americanamanhasset.com/.
Although the company’s mobile Web site is not commerce-enabled, it does let users see the different products that are available with the goal of driving consumers to the stores to buy the items.
Americana Manhasset’s mobile ad campaign is an example of how luxury stores can benefit from mobile.
Luxury marketing is centered around the idea of creating one-on-one relationships with consumers, which can make digital platforms tricky.
However, by putting the emphasis of a campaign on driving consumers to a location, it helps the company flaunt its digital initiatives while still creating a tailored campaign.
Additionally, Americana Manhasset’s mobile ad campaign uses several rich media components that are more tailored towards an affluent consumer, including mobile video and a swipeable gallery.
“We believe that mobile advertising is an extremely powerful channel to reach a vast number of consumers,” Ms. Lestiyo said.
“Mobile is still a fairly new channel, so it is important to measure and test engagement with the audience,” she said.
“The combination of compelling ads with measurement will open up mobile potentials going forward.”
Feb 13, 2012
‘Karlie Kloss Americana Manhasset Campaign Exudes Mid-Century Nostalgia’
by Ellie Krupnick, The Huffington Post
We’ve never met a Karlie Kloss photo shoot we didn’t like.
But this latest campaign, shot for Long Island luxury shopping center Americana Manhasset, might be one of our favorites ever (tied with her NYC-themed Free People campaign, of course).
For Americana Manhasset’s “I Love Americana” campaign, Karlie Kloss plays a June Cleaver-meets-Carol Brady type (with both ’50s and ’60s fashion influences present). She and male model Simon Nessman pose as the quintessential midcentury American family, with a turkey in the oven, lemonade on the patio, a Cadillac in the driveway and adorable kids to boot.
But obviously the fashion rather than the nostalgic fantasy is what wins our hearts. Shot in Malibu, Karlie’s been spray-tanned within an inch of her life, making the perfect canvas for all the vivid colors. She wears Dior in the living room, Chanel in the kitchen, Prada at the gas station (the way it was meant to be) and totally makes us wish it was summer… in 1959.
Considering Karlie is currently skipping New York Fashion Week, this is just the dose of Kloss we needed.
Check out the heart-meltingly adorable Americana Manhasset shoot below (including the retro black-and-white film clip!) and head to AmericanaManhasset.com to see fun behind-the-scenes footage.
AMERICANA-A-GO-GO: Americana Manhasset’s spring catalogue, “I Love Americana,” could also be called “Karlie Kloss and Simon Nessman Play House” in a Neutra-style ranch filled with spot-on Fifties details such as orange shag carpets, rotary dial phones and mid-century furniture. “We wait for the collections to come out before deciding on a theme,” said Andrea Sanders, senior vice president and creative director. “There was this incredible Fifties vibe throughout the collections. We decided to do it in a big, fun way. Instead of being mild and safe, we went over the top.”
A video about of the making of the catalogue will be on the Americana’s Web site and a 30-second black-and-white commercial will air on taxicab TVs during New York Fashion Week. Charles DeCaro, creative director of ad agency Laspata DeCaro, said, “I was going to go the John Cheever suburban, ‘Stepford Wives’ route. There was so much color that instead of John Cheever we did June Cleever. It was recreating a fantasy world in Technicolor.”
Click here to view photos from the 7th Annual Concours d’Elegance!
It’s not often the back parking lot at the Americana Manhasset luxury mall — packed with Audis, Mercedes and BMWs — looks like a comparative auto junkyard.
But on the other side of all the high-end retailers Sunday sat 200 cars in an even more rarefied class. Half-century-old Porsches, off-the-lot Ferraris and meticulously restored Bentleys lined spaces just off Northern Boulevard for the seventh annual Concours d’Elegance show and fundraiser.
“Like the Rodeo Drive of Long Island,” said Peter Khachadurian, an Old Westbury classic car enthusiast, comparing the scene to the Beverly Hills road that showcases opulence in shopping and driving.
The event, free both to spectators and entrants, centered on a $250-a-ticket raffle benefiting the Sunrise Day Camp. Organizers raised $50,000 for the Wheatley Heights nonprofit, which hosts children with cancer and their siblings.
Had more tickets sold, the raffle would have awarded a new $146,000 VT convertible from Ferrari-Maserati of Long Island. Instead, $50,000 in cash went to the raffle winner as well as the charity.
Past-year beneficiaries include North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System hospitals, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
“It’s an expensive raffle ticket,” said Rebecca Hollander, Americana Manhasset’s marketing director. “But even if someone didn’t buy one, they’re still learning about Sunrise Day Camp, and there’s always other chances to support them.”
She spoke from the red carpet that awaited — along with engraved Tiffany plates — the best cars. On either end, vendors served chocolate strawberries and promoted helicopter rides and Hamptons real estate.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Beth Fetner, Sunrise Day Camp’s vice president of development, said appreciatively. “We’re blessed with a lot of wonderful donors.”
Some people, however, simply came for the cars. Tom Riecker is a Mustang guy, but he carefully studied an unrestored white 1965 Porsche 911S.
When asked about the best part of the show, the Bethpage man quickly replied: “It’s free.”
The Porsche’s owner, Peter Pulice, agreed. He enters a half-dozen luxury car shows a year, some of which charge spectators and entrants hundreds of dollars.
“Those can be a little stuffy,” he said, as families in football jerseys shared space with the Armani-clad crowd. “This one’s a little more humanized; to the masses.”
NEW YORK — Denise Rich’s elegant penthouse apartment at 785 Fifth Avenue here was transformed into an upscale boutique on Wednesday for a private shopping event in association with Americana Manhasset to benefit the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.
Americana Manhasset convinced 10 of its upscale tenants to create mini boutiques in Rich’s home, including Dior, Etro, Fendi, Gucci, Hirshleifers, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Prada, Theyskens’ Theory and Tory Burch. Apparel, shoes, handbags and jewelry were displayed in the massive living room with its views of Central Park, and the dining room. The library was turned into a de facto fitting room-cash wrap station, while a family room on the lower level became the stock area for $2.5 million worth of merchandise, excluding jewelry. Racks of dresses, blouses and coats covered the floor and shoe boxes were piled high to the ceiling. The Americana brought its personal shopper, Danielle Merollo, who counts some of the guests as regular clients. A seamstress with a portable sewing machine was on hand, provided by the Americana. ??
Rich said she hopes to raise $100,000 for the foundation. The Americana is giving 25 percent of sales to the charity. ??
Sharon Smith, Lauren Bush’s mother, was watching the informal modeling while Di Petroff and Dori Cooperman checked out the Gucci and Prada. Daniella Rich Kilstock was wearing a black Roland Mouret dress that she had just bought. “My daughters, like the daughter who passed, are all big shoppers,” said Rich, who herself purchased two Etro dresses with matching jackets. “All the trends are here. We get to do pre-shopping. We get to see the spring collections.”
MANHASSET, N.Y. — On a recent evening, Lori, Caryn and Shelly, the sisters at the helm of Hirshleifers here, were talking expansion with their landlord when the lights in the conference room flickered. “It’s Dad,” Caryn said, referring to their late father, Paul. “He approves.”
Americana Manhasset owner Frank Castagna was discussing his proposal that Hirshleifers build a second floor above its existing 14,000-square-foot store. “There are plans for considerably more space, 10,000 square feet,” he said. “Peter Marino would design it. He has a concept of how the store should flow,” he said of the architect, who worked on the retailer’s prior projects.
Paul Hirshleifer would certainly approve of a larger store. But when he died in 2004, taking with him the secrets of his closely held business, he didn’t make his daughters’ jobs any easier. “There were some very difficult times during that period,” Castagna said. “When they came in, they knew very little about the actual condition of the company.”
Despite a lifetime of immersion in fashion, the Hirshleifer sisters were fairly unschooled in the workings of the industry. “I wanted to be a buyer, but no one had the time to teach me, so I borrowed a book from a friend who was going to LIM,” Lori said. “One day my father walked by my office and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Trying to learn what an open-to-buy is.’ ‘You can’t learn that,’ he bellowed. ‘It’s intuitive.’?”
By the time the sisters mastered the designer market, the recession was upon them. The Hirshleifers managed to navigate the tumultuous economy and put their own imprimaturs on the store. “We’re constantly updating and making renovations,” said Lori, the youngest. Over the years, square footage was cobbled together as opportunities — departing retailers — became available.?
Although Hirshleifers never expanded beyond its Manhasset perch, its influence has always seemed to be larger than its footprint. The store, which is one of the few remaining family-owned fashion retailers, marked its 100 anniversary last month. Hirshleifers history was celebrated at a party, where posters of old ad campaigns were on display. They showed the retailer’s prescience in using a young Linda Evangelista in a 1989 ad and Stephanie Seymour in an ad from 1988.
Paul Hirshleifer’s career started some miles away from Manhasset, in Forest Hills, N.Y., where he ran his family’s clothing store. But he had loftier aspirations. Driving through Manhasset one day, he passed a strip mall and met the equally ambitious and visionary Castagna, who was trying to transform his strip mall with a supermarket and drug store into an elegant open-air setting for upscale fashion and lifestyle retailers.
Hirshleifer opened a 1,500-square-foot store at the Americana Manhasset in 1960, closing the Forest Hills store in 1990 to devote his energies to expanding the physical size and designer roster of the Manhasset flagship.
Chanel was initially displayed in a space that was 750 square feet. “My father really believed we could sell a lot more Chanel,” Lori said. “He passed away before [the 3,200-square-foot shop] was finished. We first evolved to 1,500 square feet, and decided to do an even bigger expansion. We said, ‘Let’s plan to buy 50 percent more goods and see where it goes.’ It was a great experiment.”
?Not all of the designer unions were as successful. European designers found Hirshleifers generously sized in-store shops attractive — until they achieved a certain level of success and decided to open their own units at the Americana. Two of the most difficult losses were Jil Sander’s men’s and women’s shops and a Dolce & Gabbana boutique. “We opened Jil Sander the day after she resigned [as creative director of her company],” Shelly said. “We made a big dollar investment and tried to continue selling the collection, but we decided we had to use the space in other ways and opened a Versace shop in 2008 and an area for Brunello Cucinelli in 2009. Dolce & Gabbana’s shop was built at great expense. When the agreement expired, we couldn’t make it viable. That was a pretty scary moment. Then Lori had this idea for Etc.”
Etc. is the 1,800-square-foot environment for a range of disparate products that have one common thread: their appeal to Lori. “What’s sort of cool about this place is that because we have vendors [at Hirshleifers] that account for a certain amount of productivity per square foot, we can do things [at Etc.] that offer interest and value,” she said. “There are pockets of productivity in the store that subsidize other spaces. It allows us to take on vendors that are new. We can have fun. It brings a different client that might not walk in otherwise. Some people feel intimidated where there are expensive things. Etc. gives them a safe reason to come in.”
Etc. is a reflection of how people dress today, Lori said. Chanel mingles with Rag & Bone, Norma Kamali, Tomas Maier and Duckie Brown. There are also Alexander McQueen skull scarves, Louis Marais bracelets, Strange Beautiful nail polish, Taschen books and a one-of-a-kind piece of Fornasetti furniture for $29,000.
Another break from tradition is the two-year-old Shoe Lab. Shoes that previously resided with their ready to wear collections are now corralled in the 1,100-square-foot space along with a larger selection of footwear. “Our customers are very specific in what they like, and very name-oriented,” Lori said. “A lot of shoe customers [go on to] buy Chanel clothing. It’s a good entry into the brand.”
The two experiments, Etc. and Shoe Lab, have been successes. “We continued in the direction the store was heading in,” Lori said. “We just took it beyond that. My father always said, ‘We’re a clothing business, just stay there.’ I’m glad we didn’t listen.”
There are more creative ideas brewing, but the sisters declined to discuss them. The important thing is that they can envision a bigger Hirshleifers. “I see no problem filling the space” Castagna is proposing, Lori said. “It’s full. It’s done.”
“The second floor could happen in the next three to five years,” Castagna said.
Referring to the potential expansion, Shelly remarked, “These are the things that force you to the next step.”
Jun 01, 2010
by A Newsletter from Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, Summer 2010, Volume 17
Co-Founder Hosts Fashion Fete With Americana Manhasset
Americana Manhasset, Long Island’s premiere luxury shopping destination, brought their exquisite merchandise to Denise Rich’s Manhattan residence for a preview of the summer’s newest fashions. Fortunately for guests, the rainy April afternoon gave way to sunshine that filled that apartment. The break in the weather coupled with an amazing 25% of all proceeds going to the Foundation afforded attendees the perfect incentives to spend. Guests were encouraged to ‘sip, shop and splurge’ and through their generosity, the Foundation received over $72,000 for cancer research. Haute couture stalwarts Dior,Etro, Fendi, Frette, Hirshleifers, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Spring Flowers beautifully displayed their wares while a select list of supporters nabbed the latest high-end items for their summer jaunts. The Director of Americana’s VIP Personal Shopping Services, Danielle Merollo and Marketing Director, Rebecca Hollander organized the festive afternoon with catering provided by Mary Giuliani Catering & Events and parting gifts by Zegna, Hermès and others. Americana Manhasset has long supported Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation through their Champions for Charity® event. Last year’s holiday promotion netted the Foundation over $15,000.With the ongoing and very generous support from Americana Manhasset President Deirdre CostaMajor and its Owner, Frank Castagna, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation looks forward to future events with an organization whose philanthropic reach knows no bounds.
Frank Castagna gives high-end shoppers what they want,
As the owner of two of Long Island’s premier places to shop, Frank Castagna has made a huge mark on the area’s retail landscape.
The son of a successful general contractor, Castagna began building the Americana shopping center in Manhasset in 1955 and it since has bec6me an internationally recognized destination for luxury shopping. Castagna Realty also helped build North Shore University Hospital, New York City police department headquarters and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
But while his legacy lies with the Americana and the Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, Castagna’s charity work may be his most lasting contribution.
Awarded an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters from Long Island University, Castagna serves on the board of directors of Old Westbury Gardens, Honors College at Hofstra University and the American Jewish Committee. Last week the Sid Jacobson JCC honored Castagna for making the community a better place to live, work and play.
Castagna lives in Brookville with his wife, Rita, and (surprise) they do most of their shopping at the Americana and Wheatley Plaza.
Since you got your start, what has changed in the retail real estate industry on Long Island?
The biggest change has been the three generations. In the early 1950s when I started, returning vets were anxious to start families and get back to work. Then we have the baby boomer of today coming into senior citizenship and then we’re all looking at today’s teenagers to see where they’re heading and trying to anticipate that.
In the early 1950s, people shopped for more of the basics, clothing for the family. The baby boomers started earlier and had more education. They had a different attitude. Baby boomers reflected a more prosperous era, so their ability to shop changed.
Now today’s younger generation is completely computer literate and more aware of fashion than any generation in the past. They’re well aware of marketing and advertising and brand building.
You really have to differentiate your product.
What has stayed the same?
The one thing that’s constant is knowing who your customer is; that doesn’t change. The customer changes, but you still have to know exactly who your potential customer is. Also being aware of what their requirements are in terms of brands is ·still important.
Has the higher-end retail business been hurt badly by the recession?
Yes. It got hurt very early on maybe somewhat before some of the other industries, but it also recovered faster and is showing stronger growth, faster than the rest of the economy. It got hit in the early stages primarily because they came off good years and bought accordingly. Then September 2008 came about and the market collapsed, and they were all caught with tremendous inventory and took terrific losses. Afterward they adjusted to the market. The luxury market and the affluence that fuels it responded very quickly. Once they felt secure and comfortable about shopping again, they came out.
Did you have to help tenants out during the latest economic downturn?
We made concessions in the sense that we looked at those costs we’re sharing with the tenants and asked, ‘How do we reduce those costs?’ We reduced their burden in terms of common area maintenance, advertising and marketing. We did our best to cut back on that. A few smaller tenants we did offer some help, but major brands didn’t need any assistance.
When there’s so much competition, how do you get shoppers to come out and spend money at your centers?
We try to create an experience when you come here. The restaurants, the mix of shops, the parking, the security and overall ambience, that’s all part of the shopping experience.
Will shopping online ever make a sizeable dent in the number of customers who shop at your stores?
At the present time there is some impact, but it’s not really measurable. Everyone is worried about what might happen 10,15 or 20 years from now. So far it hasn’t taken away, it’s just supported the lines that the stores carry.
What’s the best advice you could give a young retail developer?
Know how to differentiate whatever you’re going to do. You can’t go head on into a market without knowing that market really well. You have to be unique and you have to know how to market. Marketing today is more important than ever.
Are you optimistic about the future of retail?
I think so. Long Island has a lot to offer in terms of education and recreation and its proximity to the city. Put all those things together and you have a very strong reason, why shouldn’t you bet on Long Island!
- DAVID WINZELBERG
Ermenegildo Zegna has hit the ‘burbs.
The Italian luxury brand has opened a 2,lOO-square-foot store at the Americana Manhasset mall on Long Island, the first men’s-only store in the upscale shopping center, which boasts tenants such as Brooks Brothers, Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors, Gucci, Hermès, Donna Karan New York and others.
Designed by architects Gianmaria and Roberto Beretta of Studio Beretta in Milan, this is Zegna’s 14th directly owned store in the U.S. The shop sports natural woods and stones designed to create a masculine gentleman’s club feel and, upon entering, there is a video wall featuring the seasonal Milan runway collections.
Calling the company “one of the world’s most important and premium men’s wear brands,” Deirdre Costa Major, president of the Americana Manhasset, noted: “As the first store at Americana dedicated solely to men, Zegna solidifies our standing as a serious destination for men to shop. Both Zegna and Americana are family-owned businesses and share a similar mind-set about nurturing a strong partnership between landlord and tenant, with the goal of building lasting relationships with clients.”
“Manhasset is a very exciting residential area,” said Anna Zegna, image director of the family-owned company, which is celebrating its centennial this year. “It’s a fantastic mall where the locals go to shop. A lot of the people commute to New York City, but they spend their leisure time there. It has a very relaxed, special feel.”
To attract that leisure-time shopper, Zegna said the store is showcasing sportswear front and center, with Zegna Sport on one side and the Ermenegildo Zegna luxury sportswear collection on the other: Behind that are leather goods, and in the rear, the tailored clothing. The store also offers Su Misura, the company’s made-to-measure service, along with formalwear. ‘This is the assortment that meets local customer need,” Zegna said, noting the company “tries to treat every town as a unique personality.”
On Wednesday night, the store hosted a reception benefitting the Children’s Medical Fund of New York. Zegna was supposed to attend but was unable to fly to the States because of the Icelandic volcano. She said she was disappointed to have to miss it, adding: “I always enjoy talking to customers. The Americans have an extreme friendliness. They tell you about their lifestyle, their families. It’s a very open relationship, and that personal touch adds a lot to the brand experience.”
Next up for the company is a second store in Las Vegas. This one, which joins the recently expanded unit at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, will be at the Crystals retail complex at CityCenter: That two-level store, which will measure 5,832 square feet, will be designed by Peter Marino and is expected to open in early June. Last month, Zegna relocated its shop at Caesars into a location that is 3,733 square feet, 65 percent larger than the former store.
Women came in droves, wearing neat knit suits and brooches of all kinds, to the St. John store at the Americana shopping center in Manhasset yesterday afternoon, where former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright turned out to talk politics and pins.
Albright, who is promoting her book, “Read My Pins, Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewelry Box” (Harper Collins, $40), is known for her telegraphic pins, which sometimes wrought political havoc. When Saddam Hussein characterized her as a serpent, she responded by wearing a snake pin. And to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose callou sattitude toward Chechnya Albright deplored, she put on a trio of “Hear No Evil…” brooches.
But mostly, Albright said, “I wear a pin just because I like it.” Her favorite, besides a ceramic heart made by her daughter Katie long ago, is “probably the glass ceiling pin, ”a jagged crystal and gold brooch.” It speaks to so many things,” Albright said.
If pins convey her message, Albright says Michelle Obama’s style is equally powerful. “I do think she is showing a generational change. Her way of buying and wearing clothes is as a first lady and amother. She is a trendsetter and she has influence. ”She did have one criticism. “The only thing I have against her is she’s so tall. I was sitting with her at dinner and she stood up. She’s this tall tree, and I’m this short mushroom.”
September 24, 2009 – Hirshleifers, Americana Manhasset’s prestigious and unique multi-brand retailer, has recently opened ETC, an in-store lifestyle shop. A new concept for the Hirshleifer family, ETC presents an ever-changing selection of personal and home luxury items that are of-the-moment, visual, whimsical and fun.
Richly appointed with design elements that make it inviting, the space features hand-planed bleached walnut details, warm leather cabinetry, comfortable leather seating, all highlighted with a soft green accent color. State of the art sound and video systems enhance the sensory aspects of the space while a 12 foot digital graphic, strategically placed beyond a lacquered runway, boldly defines the mood of the moment.
ETC offers a distinctive mix of vendors, some new to Hirshleifers. Clothing from The Row, Boy, Golden Goose, Phillip Lim, Katy Rodriguez, Tomas Maier, Levi’s Vintage and Moncler are displayed alongside elegant Assouline and Taschen books, whimsical pieces from Visionaire – the visually seductive publication melding fashion and art, a selection of objects found in the home by iconic designer Piero Fornasetti, and other collections, some designed exclusively for ETC.
“We’ve worked hard to create a vibrant, multi-sensory retail experience for our clients, where they can spend time among mini-collections of aromatic candles, beautiful books, and fabulous Fornasetti objects. The merchandise is cultivated to reflect a personal spirit, and each item sets a tone for a unique lifestyle concept. Like individual stories in a book, ETC’s spaces are meant to be explored, its collections discovered,” said Lori Hirshleifer.
According to Deirdre Costa Major, President of Americana Manhasest, “Hirshleifers has created an environment that is both chic and cool, with an outstanding selection of product. ETC has a downtown energy that Americana customers are definitely going to respond to.”
Hirshleifers is a premier luxury retailer and a prominent, longstanding, family owned and operated business comprised of exclusive well-appointed shop-in-shops. Hirshleifers offers a unique selling environment in an elegant yet comfortable setting, where product knowledge, customer familiarity and attention to detail yield superior customer service.
Not all the activities on Fashion’s Night Out will be restricted to New York’s five boroughs. The Americana Manhasset on Long Island will kick off its New York Fashion Week activities with a Style on the Go event that will offer five-minute makeovers from Estée Lauder as well as five-minute wardrobe makeovers by Americana Manhasset’s fashion consultants.
Hirshleifers will unveil Hirshleifers ETC, a new department offering an ever-changing assortment of personal and home luxury items selected for their visual, sensual and whimsical charm. The Row, Rag & Bone, Phillip Lim, Golden Goose, Libertine, Norma Kamala, Rock star Denim and Florsheim by Duckie Brown, among others, will be represented at ETC’s opening, along with Taschen, Assouline, Cire Trudon and Fornasetti for the home.
Several Americana Manhasset retailers will have specialists on hand to guide shoppers through their collections. Oscar de la Renta will host a reception for its new fur line today and Wednesday; MaxMara on Thursday will introduce its fall line and launch its Atelier coat collection, and Salvatore Ferragamo will preview its spring collection.
Americana Manhasset also will hold two fashion lunches on Sept. 12 and 15, with runways shows by Intermix, Hirshliefers, Etro, Dior, Fendi and Louis Vuitton.
With luxurious new shops, decadent dining, five-star service and must-see events, Americana Manhasset is the premier Gold Coast destination.
• Brunello Cucinelli Cozy up with luxe Italian cashmere just in time for fall with the newest designer to set up shop at Hirshleifers. 516.627.3566
• Ermenegildo Zegna The world-renowned men’s clothing boutique will bring its superb tailoring and attention to detail to Americana next spring.
• Hirshleifers ETC Immerse yourself in luxe ready-to-wear lines from Golden Goose, L’Agence and Boy, accessories from Catherine Michiels, Tsovet watches and even home furnishings from Fornasetti in this extension of Hirshleifers. 516.627.6700
• Ilori Discover your signature shades at this sunglass boutique featuring designers from Ray-an and Oliver Peoples to Chloé and Tom Ford. 516.627.0216
• Theory Find the perfect staple jacket among the must-have men’s and women’s collections. 516.684.1092
Forget food courts and pretzel stands – Americana Manhasset offers world-class cuisine in innovative spaces.
• Cipollini Trattoria and Bar With one step inside the Cipollini Trattoria and Bar, you’ll feel like you’re on the northern coast of Ital. Famed restaurant designer Peter Neimitz’s classic space is the perfect spot to enjoy a brick-oven pizza after a ling day of shopping. 516.627.7172
• Cipollini Pronto Caffe Serving everything from prepared sandwiches to cappuccino, the café is the perfect one-stop-shop for busy days when food takes a back seat to fashion. 516.627.6270
• Toku Designed by architects of The Modern at MoMA, Toku features treasures like a white onyx bar and wooden bells imported from China. Executive chef Tomo Kobayashi fuses Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean cuisine for a unique dining experience. 516.627.7121
With access to more than 60 stores and 100 different luxury brands, Americana Manhasset’s director of personal shopping services Danielle Merollo has all the right connections to meet her clients’ needs. Merollo provides free services that include everything from wardrobe consultations and custom fittings to event details, dinner reservations and even gift suggestions. “We’re here to fulfill your shopping needs, whatever that may mean,” says Merollo. “One woman recently asked for my help in completely revamping her wardrobe – which included an at-home closet consultation – while another simply needed assistance picking out an appropriate gift for her nephew’s graduation. So it runs the gamut. The best part of my job is the relationships I build with my clients over time.” 800.818.6767
FALL INTO FASHION
Shoppers can celebrate fabulous fashion closer to home when Americana hosts its first Americana Fashion Week from September 10 to 17. The weeklong event kicks off with Style on the Go, a cocktail reception where guests can enjoy five-minute Estée Lauder makeovers and fashion consultations from Americana’s expert staff. Itching to see fall’s new fashions? Americana’s Fashion Lunch mini runways shows at Toku, on September 12 and 15, will preview designs from Intermix, Etro, Hirshleifers ETC, Dior, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton. There will also be a number of in-store events going on each day of the week.
2060 Northern Blvd.
Fashion retailer Americana Manhasset makes fantastic use of rich media on its stunning ecommerce site. I particularly like the professional videos that quickly load when you arrive at the site’s main page, and the completely Flash-based product detail pages that represent a major, site-wide commitment to rich media. The site runs on Create The Group’s CTS/Sell platform.
Designer Catherine Malandrino wows ‘em in a green, form-fitting dress with ruffled sleeves from her own line at a shopper’s breakfast at her Americana Manhasset store last week. Twenty percent of sales at the breakfast were donated to the UJA-Federation of New York.
AT VERSACE, LOOKING EAST doesn’t always mean Russia.
Tonight, the Italian fashion house will celebrate the opening of an in-store shop at Hishleifer’s in the Americana Mall in Manhasset, N.Y., on Long Island.
The 800-square-foot shop, operated by Hirshleifer’s, offers women’s ready-to-wear eveningwear, handbags and shoes. While the shop has its own entrance and street-side façade, its interior is connected to Hirshleifer’s Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo and J.Mendel shops.
The shop had a soft opening on Sept. 1.
“Over the past few seasons, our strategy goal at Versace has been to focus on building a strong base of quality distribution” said Patrick Guadagno, president and chief operating officer of wholesale at Versace USA. “It means identifying the most important retailer in a specific trading area who shares the same vision that we do. On Long Island, Hirshleifer’s clearly fits that profile.”
The new shop represents the latest generation of retail fixturing for the brand, including features such as white-panel leather walls, indirectly lit chrome accessories cases and black glass and leather tables.
“We had sold Versace many years ago,” said Lori Hirshleifer, vice president at Hirshleifer’s. “I always loved it, but it was a different collection back then. Since then, there is a new management and its taken on a new life. Its become much more of a whole lifestyle collection. Whereas it was mostly evening and red carpet before, you can now dress in Versace from head to toe.”
Versace replaced a space that formerly housed a Jil Sander shop.
“We just felt it is Versace’s time again,” Hirshleifer said.
In addition to rtw, the shop will offer the limited edition Couture line of handbags, priced from about $2,500 to $5,000.
“Versace fits in beautifully,” Hirshleifer said. “Our client is always looking for dresses and special pieces.”
Katie Lee Joel and Gretta Monahan will co-host tonight’s event that Versace and Hirshleifer are holding in conjunction with Vogue and Project ALS. The party will benefit Project ALS, which is devoted to finding a treatment and cure to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Check out Americana Manhasset and our Personal Shopping Service on vogue.tv! To view the video, click the link above.
MANHASSET, N.Y. — In the midst of a photo shoot at the CH Carolina Herrera store here, the designer looked at ease leaning against a table. But the same couldn’t be said for a young woman who stood gobsmacked in the doorway. Without waiting for the next bulb to flash, Herrera waved the shopper in.
Reflexive as that gesture was, it seemed emblematic of the CH Carolina Herrera business — all are welcome in these stores, but it’s not something she has made much noise about.
Despite this low-key approach, Herrera has quietly been bolstering the CH Carolina Herrera business. There are currently 39 freestanding stores and concept shops, and that figure is expected to jump to 100 by the end of 2009. This year alone, boutiques will bow in Kuwait, Jeddah, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and next year units will open in Caracas, Venezuela; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. There are nine CH Carolina Herrera stores in the U.S. and a New York flagship is on the horizon, though a location has not been found.
Launched in 2001, the CH Carolina Herrera collection is geared for a modern, effortless chic lifestyle — much like the one lived by the designer’s daughter Carolina, who is also the label’s muse. Framed photographs of Herrera and her namesake daughter from various stages of their lives are tucked away here and there in the store, often not in full view. Some of Herrera’s favorite books — including ones by Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh and Julian Schnabel — are also interspersed throughout. There are other homey items as well, such as a sterling silver dog dish, scented candles, teddy bears and a leather carrier for a water bottle — all designed by Herrera.
The at-home feel aims to make shoppers linger. “The feeling is you want to stay here and have a cup of tea or a drink of water,” Herrera said. “No one has the feeling that someone is trying to sell you something.”
And that is not by chance. The store’s salespeople are trained not to hover or trail shoppers around. The last thing Herrera wants is for an employee to insist a customer try something on. The staff is more than willing to help when asked, but Herrera said, “Here, you can shop on your own without many people looking at what you’re doing.”
That individual mindedness is something she practices in her own life. “You have to be yourself, take your own stand and have a bold style,” she said.
In addition to a full-blown women’s collection with everything from windbreakers to eveningwear, CH Carolina Herrera includes men’s wear, accessories, footwear, scarves, shawls and assorted sundries like blankets, a limited edition baby stroller and a picnic basket with a thermos and checkered blanket. While the crisp white shirts and delicate dresses with a ruffled hem capture the designer’s unmistakable style, so do the “CH” printed bags, men’s suits with discreet linings and kidskin driving gloves. The CH Carolina Herrera women’s collection retails from $95 for a cotton T-shirt to $2,075 for a silk gown, in comparison with the Carolina Herrera New York signature collection, which runs from $990 for a cotton canvas pant to $65,000 for a sable poncho.
CH Carolina Herrera handbags are a major component of the store’s assortment. An array of totes, clutches, handbags and satchels in a variety of leathers and canvases are neatly showcased in the first area shoppers see when they walk in the door. Several are imprinted with “CH” or carry “CH” hardware. There is also a wide range of colors including bags in fuchsia suede and loden leather. This is the largest offering of her handbags, since her freestanding stores only offer bags from Judith Leiber and Nancy Gonzalez. “I love the bags,” she said, trying one on here and there.
Dressed in a CH Carolina Herrera and signature collection combo of a white and gray floral skirt, black patent leather belt, a black button down shirt and taupe patent leather shoes, Herrera said, “I have to be who I am. I have to be very bold and follow my own instincts and stay with what I started. When you stop leading and start reacting, you go the wrong way. It’s very important to know what your identity is with fashion.”
After 27 years in business, Herrera, this year’s recipient of the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, knows where she stands. Her self-assured ease — something that is evident throughout the CH Carolina Herrera collection — is a necessity in fashion, she said. “If you see the most beautifully dressed woman sitting in something that doesn’t look comfortable, that isn’t fashion. Fashion is about being natural. Natural is a very important side to fashion.”
With CH Carolina Herrera, she is revealing a bit more of her personal style beyond the clothes and the portraits in the store. The designer said when friends visit her at home, they often remark about how the jasmine-scented candles smell like the CH Carolina Herrera store. She said with a laugh that she tells them, “No, the boutique smells like my home.”
In the stores, even the modern tables, chairs, oversize red hanging lamps and all of the other Spanish-made furniture can be ordered if a customer inquires. “Everything here is for sale, which is a nice concept, no? If you are in other places and you see something and ask ‘Where can I find it?’ no one tells,” she said.
CH Carolina Herrera handbags, jackets “with perfect shoulders,” signature white shirts, a printed caftan with metallic accents, “lovely-colored” polo shirts and the men’s collection with its many details are among the designer’s favorite items. “I love that caftan. I have one I will wear this summer. Every time I come here I find something to buy, which is a little bit of a problem for me,” she said.
While the label is widely known in Europe and overseas, especially in Spain where there are 19 outposts, American customers are less familiar with it. The company has yet to do any advertising in the U.S. but expects to at some point. The same can be said for the label’s fragrance, which is only available overseas. And the lack of a Manhattan flagship also has kept the label below the radar.
Overall, though, the CH Carolina Herrera business is sailing along just by word-of-mouth recommendations. “People are so tired of all those trends. Maybe there are too many trendy clothes and trendy stores,” the designer said. “Maybe it’s OK to be a little more elusive and mysterious. Fashion is mysterious.”
During her biannual trips to the CH Carolina Herrera factory in Spain, the designer delights in seeing all the women on the streets wearing ballet flats covered with the CH Carolina Herrera logo. The fact that the production staff produces all the CH Carolina Herrera apparel and the team has been the same from the label’s launch seven years ago are other pluses. “It’s important to have your own factory. You can control the whole thing. Everything has to be in harmony,” she said.
The Spanish factory does not produce anything for Herrera’s signature collection. Herrera may borrow a detail that was used in her signature collection one season and use it in the diffusion line the next, but the similarities begin and end there. Each label is run as a separate company and has separate offices. While some might be tempted to consolidate the two administratively or productionwise to reduce the workload or expenses, Herrera believes everything has its place.
“Everything in fashion is about details — like it is in life. You have to have details. Otherwise, who knows what kind of life you have,” she said.
The Caracas-born designer stems from a long line of Venezuelan landowners and statesmen and learned the importance of self-discipline early on in life. Herrera’s mother, “a very romantic and poetic figure, but very disciplined,” wanted to instill in her daughters the importance of being cultured and well-read, and to not be consumed by their appearances.
“I love the idea that I was brought up with so much discipline. It made me organized, and it made me understand how important it is to be on time and to have my own life. I have a huge family on the side — 10 grandchildren. And I have four daughters, and houses and everything else….,” she said. “The discipline was always there. Fashion is always on deadlines. But first of all, I have to say I enjoy my work. The important thing is I love what I do and I am able to also have another life. It’s important to have your own life and your own time. That’s good for your work, too.”
The Manhasset, N.Y., open-air luxury shopping center has always focused on fine-tuning its retail mix and maintaining high architecture and landscaping standards in branding itself as a destination for top brands. Cyberspace took a backseat to terra firma — until now. The Americana has launched a slice of e-commerce in conjunction with one of its longtime tenants, Hirshleifer’s.
“It was time to get into the e-commerce game,” said Andrea Sanders, senior vice president and creative director of Americana Manhasset. “You can’t not pay attention to it. We’re not a store but we wanted to work with our stores. We’re hoping people come to our site because they respect us and are looking to be surprised and inspired by the products we choose to feature.”
The e-commerce component of americanamanhasset.com launched with 12 items that consumers “won’t see everywhere else,” she said.
Americana Manhasset personal shoppers along with Hirshleifer’s buyers will edit the products each season.
“It will grow organically,” Sanders said. “We’ll see what kinds of things customers are interested in. We expect more vendors to get on board once they see how nicely we present the products….We want to maintain quality control over fulfillment.”
Products on the site include Jessica Kagan Cushman bangles, $125; a Lucien Pellat-Finet skull-motif sweater, $1,285; an Edidi small clutch, $1,100; Lanvin ballerina flats, $540; a Norma Kamali chiffon gown, $300; a Kara Ross cuff, $385; Luciano Padovan slingbacks, $420, and a Libertine button-down shirt, $500. The items will be changed biweekly.
Americana Manhasset’s store roster includes Bottega Veneta, Cartier, CH Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Hermès, Giorgio Armani, J.Mendel, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta.
When the center opened in 1956, it had a supermarket, movie theater and department store, among other tenants. B. Altman joined in 1971. Luxury designers began arriving toward the end of the Nineties, with another wave coming in 2003 when a 40,000-square-foot addition was built.
“We have a very strategic plan for marketing e-commerce,” Sanders said. It includes direct mail and promoting e-commerce on the Americana’s home page and e-mail blasting Hirshleifer’s and Americana customers and personal shopping customers.“We see this as a five-year plan and beyond,” Sanders said.
Luxury Linens on LI
Frette, the Italian company best known for its luxury linens, is opening a 1,200-square-foot retail boutique in the Americana Manhasset Mall on Northern Boulevard just after Thanksgiving.
Its wares include the full array of products, including sheets, duvets and towels, fur and cashmere throws, and its Frette to Wear collections of loungewear, robes and lingerie. Accessories include items such as soaps, fragrances and candles.
Frette, familiar to guests at high-end hotels, also launches its new gift card this month.
The Manhasset store is Frette’s first in New York outside Manhattan, where it has locations on Madison Avenue and in ABC Carpet & Home.
– CAROL POLSKY
Nov 08, 2007
‘Frette Moves Forward With Rollout, To Focus on Entering New Markets’
by Karyn Monget, WWD
Frette Inc. will open its 10th signature store in the U.S. at the Americana Manhasset Mall in Manhasset, N.Y., on the day after Thanksgiving.
The 1,200-square-foot luxury linens boutique, which will be near Chanel, Gucci, Van Cleef & Arpels and Wolford, represents the initial phase of a retail rollout in key U.S. markets, said Paul Raffin, chief executive officer of Frette’s North American operations. He projected the Manhasset store would generate sales in “numbers north of $2,000″ per square foot.
Prices start at $60 for six soaps in rose and lavender scents; $65 for rose, orange and lavender-scented candles in frosted glass, and a scented lounge candle with a Mediterranean fragrance, $125. Bed linens range from $450 for the Hotel Collection to $2,400 for the Couture Linen Collection. Cotton pajamas are priced at $350, while lounge pieces such as a knitted cashmere and fox shawl-collar robe with silk lining will be listed at $2,500. Chantilly lace-trimmed silk sleep gowns will be $400 to $650.
Designed by architect Janson Goldstein, the unit will exude a modern flavor without compromising Frette’s 150-year heritage. An elaborate glass and metal facade and canopy will frame the entrance and display window. Frette’s iconic pattern — a diamond-shaped double F logo called a “rhomba” — will be featured above the canopy as a signpost for the brand.
Raffin said the mood of the boutique’s interior will be enhanced with raw materials such as Russian-fumed oak contrasted with white marble floors, dramatic lighting, stained ash and glass and nickel mill work, to create a contemporary and vintage ambience. There will be a custom-pattern “luxury wall” to provide a hands-on experience for shoppers featuring an array of specialty items such as cashmere throws and blankets, silk and crushed velvet throws, taffeta duvets, and boudoir and home accessories rendered in Russian sable, mink and chinchilla.
The company, which was acquired in 2006 by San Francisco-based JH Partners, a private equity firm specializing in brand development and marketing, began initiating expansion plans when Raffin was named ceo in January. The nine other Frette boutiques, outlets and in-store shops in the U.S. are in Chicago, Aspen, Colo.; Manhattan, an in-store shop at ABC Carpet & Home in Manhattan; Woodbury Commons in Central Valley, N.Y., and four shops in California: Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Palo Alto and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
Raffin said plans to expand “are proceeding on a very strategic, selective basis with initial focus on entry into new markets where there is currently no Frette representation. We know there are high concentrations of Frette customers in the Southeast and Southwest, given the e-commerce business generated by all of these markets. We are targeting Bal Harbour [Fla.], Atlanta, Dallas and Houston as major opportunities in the Sunbelt region.
“We will announce shortly a major project in Boston that represents a future vision of Frette,” he said. “The next five to seven years will see a tiered rollout of flagships on street locations, mall-based store formats, smaller studio stores in resort locales and high-profile markets such as Greenwich [Conn.], Santa Barbara [Calif.], and East Hampton [N.Y.]. We also envision a 30- to 50-store retail division in the U.S., as well as multiple wholesale points of distribution with key partners such as Bloomingdale’s and ABC.”
TOKU is a sleek, gorgeous new Asian restaurant with big-city sophistication. It opened in late August in the Americana Shopping Center in Manhasset, where Millie’s Place had been, and it fits right in with its fashionable neighbors: Prada, Fendi, Escada and Kate Spade.
Its family tree is also top-drawer. The owners are George and Gillis Poll, who run Bryant & Cooper in Roslyn, one of the island’s best steak houses; the more casual Majors Steak Houses in Woodbury and Merrick; and Cipollini, a stylish trattoria, which is also in the Americana Shopping Center.
Peeking through the chain-mail curtains that line the entrance, diners at Toku see an elegant, illuminated onyx bar. Farther back is a long, candlelit dining room with clean lines, geometric woodwork and a striking, rough-textured slate wall. Warm touches include rows of colorful sake drums over the bar and hanging wooden bells from a 19th-century Buddhist monastery behind the sushi bar.
The servers, in black pajamalike outfits, are extritalicely friendly and efficient. After asking if we were firsttimers, our waiter offered helpful suggestions. Dishes come from the kitchen when they are ready, he said, so it’s a good idea to share. He also mentioned that the salads were enormous.
Those salads have entree-like prices ($17 to $29) but can serve four as a starter at dinner or two for lunch. (The menu is the same at both lunch and dinner.) I loved the Asian Caesar, with its crunchy won tons, cashews and spirited ginger aioli. The calamari salad was tasty and the seafood tender, but the squid rings were limp, not crispy as promised on the menu.
Diners can easily shoot the budget when ordering appetizers. Nine of thitalic are priced over $20. We found four good picks in the $11 to $12 range. Pork gyoza, seven pan seared juicy dumplings filled with flavorful Berkshire pork, were beautifully arranged on a banana leaf. Another attractive and delicious starter was lettuce cups (each leaf trimmed into a perfect cup) paired with a hot minced chicken mixture and hoisin sauce. Also splendid were the three gossamer shrimp dumplings atop a flavorful egg-drop broth and the crisp tuna spring rolls teamed with a spicy chili mayonnaise.
Many entrees are familiar Western dishes given Asian spins. Take the filet mignon. It was a thick, nicely charred, velvety steak served on a mushroom ragout flavored with a Japanese mustard sauce. Succulent braised short ribs were accompanied by pad Thai noodles. The best meat dish sampled was braised Berkshire pork belly, which was meltingly soft and quite lean for pork belly, served over pickled red cabbage blended with coconut juice.
Chilean sea bass, black cod and salmon were all fresh and lightly cooked. The seared salmon had crisp skin and was complitalicented by Japanese eggplant and baby bok choy. The steamed sea bass was accompanied by maitake mushrooms and Asian salsify in a lush black bean sauce. The broiled misoflavored cod was paired with a shishito pepper salad. The latter was a Lincoln Log-style construction of finger-size sweet green peppers.
Since every entree arrived with an accompaniment, additional sides were not necessary, but we did give the Toku fries a try. Though the potatoes (Yukon golds) should have been crisper, their wasabi mayonnaise dipping sauce was addictive.
Three desserts hit the spot: Fuji Tatin (a warm apple tart Tatin); warm, chewy brownies with green tea whipped cream; and crunchy banana won tons served with an airy passion fruit cream and a scoop of litchi sorbet. Though the mango tofu pudding ($10, compared with $8.50 for other desserts) had a spectacular presentation — a tiny cup set upon a teapot filled with dry ice, with vapor flowing from the spout — it was really just a small bowl of pudding crowned with a dab of minced mango and a splash of coconut sauce.
2014 Northern Boulevard (Route 25A)
Americana Shopping Center
THE SPACE Sophisticated and modern. Wheelchair accessible.
THE CROWD As stylish as the surroundings. Few children.
THE BAR Illuminated onyx and lovely. A few tiny tables for two in front of French doors, which open onto the sidewalk in warm weather. There are exotic cocktails, 12 sakes ($20 to $156) and 12 beers ($6 to $14). List of 85 wines ($35 to $275), only one under $40; 11 by the glass ($9 to $16).
THE BILL Same menu at lunch and dinner. Entrees, $19 (chicken) to $47 (lobster). Sushi combination plates are $35, $75 and $100. All major credit cards accepted.
WHAT WE LIKE Asian Caesar salad, tuna spring roll, chicken lettuce cups, shrimp dumplings, pork gyoza; short ribs, filet mignon, pork belly, salmon, black cod, Chilean sea bass; banana won tons, Fuji Tatin, brownies.
IF YOU GO Open Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.; Monday to Thursday, noon to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to midnight. Reservations are necessary.
Toku slips between Loro Piana and Escada, two doors down from Prada and Fendi. It’s a perfect fit.
Stylized, polished and meticulously tailored, Toku is a sparkling new Asian restaurant in the Americana Shopping Center. But it’s not simply couture cuisine.
Toku occupies and transforms what had been Millie’s Place. From a carved slate wall to the onyx sushi bar; the shimmering, gilded chain-mail curtains to the tall, evocative monastery bells, Toku’s skylight-candlelight dining room subtly shines.
Executive chef Tomoyuki Kobayashi creates contemporary dishes to equal the surroundings. His airy and artful cooking consistently excels.
Consider the delicate, steamed sea bass rolls, neat little cabbage-wrapped packets finished with ginger and scallion. Or the light, pan-seared Berkshire pork dumplings; and the puffy, juicy pork buns.
Enjoy a cleverly fashioned lobster taco; and the equally witty trio of flavorful, teriyaki-spiked sliders—an opener that would be at home at Bryant & Cooper, the Roslyn steak house that, like Toku, is also owned by Gillis and George Poll. Try an order of “Toku fries” on the side, with wasabi-laced dipping sauce.
Fine sushi and sashimi complement these starters. The house rolls include the Geisha, with cucumber-wrapped Scottish salmon and avocado; and the Kokomo, bringing together tuna, salmon, asparagus, wasabi pea and Key lime sauce. The Americana, with lobster-tail tempura, trails these. So does the tuna spring roll. But the traditional nigirizushi is very good, from kampachi to yellowtail to fatty tuna.
Meaty, tender braised spare ribs paired with pad Thai noodles are excellent. Likewise, the tender, hoisin-seasoned duck breast with napa cabbage and snow pea. As if to show that Toku has a populist steak, there’s a first-rate rendition of kung pao chicken, accented with chilies.
Buttery roasted lobster arrives on glistening udon noodles, threading around mushrooms and asparagus. These noodles are much better than the pasty, chilled udon with peanut sauce.
Snowy, whole potato-crusted red snapper is plated as if it were fried in mid-swim, and enriched with sweet soy and honey. The competition: miso black cod, with shishito pepper salad and bonito shavings.
Toku turns westward at dessert, with a refined strip of apple tart; and a delectably light chocolate brownie, with a parchment-thin round of crisp pineapple. In this company, the banana wontons are bland.
Shochu cocktails, dandified martinis and variations on the mojito, margarita and caipirinha provide some early, high-octane lubrication. And there’s a spirited selection of teas to conclude.
The menu quotes Buddha, an unlikely source of inspiration at the Americana, and lists three degrees of virtue. Toku’s main one: It’s open and dressed for success.
If you like Toku, you also may want to visit…
Four Food Studio and Cocktail Salon, 515 Broadhollow Rd., Melville; 631.577.4444.
Pacific East, 415 Main St., Amagansett; 631.267.7770.
2014C Northern Blvd.
3 stars (this was actually 3 star icons in the article) CUISINE: Asian
OPEN: Every day for lunch and dinner. Dinner reservations recommended weekdays, necessary weekends.
PRICE RANGE: Main courses, $19 to $47; appetizers, $6 to $33; noodles, $9 to $13; sushi rolls, $7 to $24
CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards except Discover
NOTABLE DISHES: Roasted lobster, crisp red snapper, braised short ribs, lobster taco, sea bass, rolls, pork gyoza, nigirizushi
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: One Level
DIRECTIONS: Midway in the Americana Shopping Center, facing Northern Boulevard, west of Searingtown Road.
Four stars mean outsanding; three, excellent; two, very good; one, good; none, fair or poor.
When Alexander McQueen staged his first New York show 11 years ago, James Gardner was there. He waited to enter the Lower East Side synagogue in a crowd that included André Leon Talley and Isabella Blow. Since then, Gardner has attended nearly every McQueen show. This fact would be unremarkable except that, until recently, his day jobs – first at Goldman Sachs, then at Merrill Lynch – had zip to with fashion.
Today, as principals of interactive agency Create The Group – known in-house and to clients as just Create The – Gardner and his partner, Tony King, count the designer as a client since creating his McQ Web site. Sitting in the sunny conference room of their just-north-of-SoHo office, the two regale with anecdotes of being backstage at McQueen’s acclaimed fall 2006 show in Paris, which ended with the haunting Kate Moss hologram.
“It was a real fashion moment, but my surprise was a little spoiled,” says Gardner in mock complaint. McQueen had agreed to quickly review plans for the Web site backstage, and while there, King had guessed that something special was in the works. “We sort of knew it was coming,” continues Gardner. “But is was great.”
Since founding their company in 2003, Gardner, a former strategy director with a love of fashion, and King, a graphic designer who spent two year as Gucci Group’s e-business design director, attend shows in New York and at least one European city each season. “I find it amazing that companies try to do a fashion Web site never having been to a show,” says King, who holds the title of creative director. “It’s such an important part – understanding the process,” adds CEO Gardner, who handles the business side.
Though both identify themselves as techies, they also converse fluently in the patois of the fashion insider. That combination has scored Create The a client list that reads like the best of Fifth Avenue, or perhaps Long Island’s Americana Manhasset, which their firm also just signed. That list includes Bottega Veneta, Gucci, David Yurman, Balenciaga, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, McQ, Frette, Krug champagne and Tom Ford. A few publications are also in the mix: Interview magazine, Another Magazine and, most recently, the New York Times’s style magazine, T. Gardner and King are in talks with still more important houses and are on their way to becoming the premier go-to Web site-building, software supplying resource in the luxury fashion and retail arena.
Create The’s offices are a mix of fashion slick (glossy black reception area) and Silicon Alley irreverence (a dining table hosts Ping-Pong tourneys). “We’re now clearly become leaders in this space,” says Gardner, while showing and telling in front of an office divider pinned with screen grabs of their work. Dressed in a slim navy jacket, Prada tie and jeans, he is bright-eyed, talkative and a touch boastful. King is a well-matched foil – quieter and more modest, warm but reserved. While Gardner does the explaining, usually at a breathless rate, King chimes in to correct the path of conversation in or to rein it in. “Sometimes we disagree,” says Gardner. “But we always come up with a good solution.” They do so with a staff of 35 designers, account executives and software engineers. In blue-streak growth mode, they are hiring 10 more in New York and their recently opened Milan office. Plans for London and Paris outposts are in the works.
“Wall Street is a few years ahead of fashion in terms of technology,” says Gardner. “The same change I saw [there] is happening in the fashion industry. Our clients are embracing it and starting to spend real money on a site.”
Thus far, their work draws effusive praise. “[James and Tony] have an amazing understanding of a very specific fashion mentality,” says Patrick Li, whose creative agency Work in Progress collaborates with Create The on a client they prefer not to name. “And fashion [companies] don’t like to work with the same people. For Balenciaga to work with the same company as Marc Jacobs is mostly a testament to their ability.” Li also recommended the form to Ingrid Sischy and Sandy Brant when they were looking to launch Interview’s site.
“Sandy has a real instinct about the marriage of business and art, and I think James really got that,” says Sischy. “And Tony is doing with this new medium creatively what a photographer would have done when the camera was first invented.”
Like Sischy and Brant, all of Create The’s clients have come via word of mouth. “We have our own world, this luxury industry,” says Americana Manhasset vice president Andrea Sanders. “We [had] to take seriously a company doing work for all these brands successfully.” Americana’s site debuts this August. Similarly, Donna Karan signed on after a recommendation from Hans Dorsinville, vice president of Laird + Partners, who works with the pair on Bottega Veneta. “They love fashion,” says Dorsinville. “It makes a big difference when you’re talking about the subtleties of communicating luxury fashion. But they don’t use the same tricks for every company.”
Gardner and King met nine years ago while traveling in the same circle of fashion-industry Brits – a group that included designer Sue Stemp, stylist cum-designer Victoria Bartlett and transatlantic visitors like Dazed & Confused editorial director Jefferson Hack, now a client for his biannual Another Magazine. “There’s quite a tight-knit group of people who work in fashion and are English,” says Hack. “You cross paths quite often. James and I developed a relationship quite naturally. Then I saw Tony’s work and was blown away.”
Through Stemp, Gardner became a regular at fashion shows and parties. “I was always known as Wall Street James,” he says, laughing. “But I grew to really understand the industry. It was Fashion 101.” King, meanwhile, was working at agency.com, an interactive firm with clients like cnn.com. In 2001 Gucci Group contacted him to be it’s e-business design director. Part of King’s job at Gucci Group was to hire companies to build brand sites. “I couldn’t really find companies that really got [it],” he says. “[We] exist partly because of that frustration.” Now Create The counts many of Gucci Group’s brands as well as Tom Ford as clients, but Gardner and King stress that each required an extensive pitch. “Balenciaga, wow!” says Gardner. “They gave us a tough time.”
In spite of their mutual friends, it wasn’t until 2003, when they found themselves at the same hotel in London, that they discovered intersecting interests. “We realized how much we had in common,” says Gardner. “My background is in automating and making things efficient, and Tony was telling me about these problems that needed automation.” The pair secured their first round of financing to build software for fashion companies that would tackle quotidian problems, particularly updating their own Web sites. Then clients started asking if Gardner and King could redesign their Web sites. One of Create The’s first major clients was Marc Jacobs, signed the summer of 2004. The night of the Spring 2005 show, the partners and their staff worked late to have the runway images and video online at five o’clock the following morning. Most important, the video required none of the plug-ins that discourage viewers. “We found a way of integrating the video into Flash,” says King. “Now it’s an industry standard, but we were the first to do it.”
“We got a bazillion hits the day after the show,” says Robert Duffy, Marc Jacob’s business partner. Fantastical numbers aside, Duffy is almost right on target. Marcjacobs.com has had over a million hits a year on its video portion, which includes footage of the company’s famed holiday party. Now King and Gardner get their clients’ show images and videos online at lightning speed. “Brands want to own their content,” Gardner explains. The latest Marc Jacobs video, which runs more then 14 minutes and includes a lengthy montage of Duffy greeting front-row VIPs, is in-depth in a way that no online press publication would ever be.
King and Gardner are now working with clients on the idea of online communities and user-generated content – the Web’s next wave. “Fashion is on the cusp of getting massively into technology,” says King. And while the two expect to lead the way, they admit to being a little awed by their own early success. “A lot of the brands we wrote down on our wish list when we started the company are actually our clients now,” says King. “It’s literally a dream come true.”
In posh hotel suites all over Los Angeles, the stars are revving up for their close-ups at Sunday’s Academy Awards. Designers have flown in from everywhere, schlepping the dresses they hope the “it” gals (you know, Kate and Cate, Beyoncé, Jennifer and Helen, to name a few) will wear. Jewelers such as Cartier and Harry Winston are negotiating with the glitterati to wear their glitter, while battalions of makeup artists and hairstylists are feverishly working to create special looks for their clients.
Nothing can compare to that whirlwind, right?
Probably not. But we asked an elegant designer clothing emporium, a top jeweler and a chic hub of hair and makeup right here on Long Island’s North Shore to help us duplicate the experience — just for fun.
Playing our “star”: Missy Dowse of Smithtown, 20, who was voted class thespian and most likely to be famous in her Hauppauge High yearbook. Now a junior majoring in theater at Hofstra University, she is on the star track, with a resume that includes leads in “Grease” (three times), “West Side Story” and, perhaps her favorite, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (natch, she was Millie). “It’s entirely feasible that someday she could take home her own golden statue,” says Bob Spiotto, Hofstra’s artistic director for community arts programs and executive producer of Hofstra Entertainment.
On a frigid day last week, Dowse arrives at Hirshleifer’s at the Americana in Manhasset, the überluxe boutique that sells the big-name designers (think Badgley Mischka, Valentino, Chanel) at very serious prices (think economy cars). The store’s Tova Soto and Gina Monte.fusco act as stylists, plucking the best looks from the swanky inventory. First, a silky animal print number by Blumarine ($1,760), which fits the trim, size 4 Dowse like a glove. “I love how it looks and the bow in front,” Dowse said, although she was iffy about the print. A stunning red Reem Acra column ($3,565) follows, then a glorious black and white confection from J. Mendel ($7,500). But soon designer Pamela Dennis arrives for a trunk show, and her dresses are the stuff of dreams. Dennis, who has had her fair share of gowns on the red carpet, is there when Dowse slips on her amazing gold and white Asian print gown with a dramatic ruched flower front and circular train.
The designer is definitive. “That is something that Nicole Kidman or Charlize Theron would wear. It is feminine and young and it fits her beautifully.” Dowse agreed. “I feel like a princess.” The royal price? $8,700. (P.S. The glamorous little clutch that went with it, also by Dennis, runs $2,800).
On to hair and makeup at Nubest Salon & Spa, where Michael Mazzei, the owner, and his son, Jamie, examine an image of the dress and decide Dowse should wear her hair down in loose curls. “I don’t want it to look like prom hair,” declares the senior Mazzei. After a wash and a blow dry, Jamie “dusts” her hair with scissors to give a crisp, fresh look without taking off length — just tiny millimeters of hair. Then, after it’s curled, makeup maestro Charles Douglas works his magic. “She has a fabulous face, and I want to keep it gorgeous, fresh and young-looking, sort of in that Keira Knightley way,” he says.
Back to Hirshleifer’s to slip on the dress, and then on to London Jewelers, also in the Americana, for the red carpet requisite — big jewels. London staffers Maureen Aronson and Sandy Finkel, taking their inspiration from the shimmery gold and white gown, envision Dowse in diamonds — loads of them. A choker (59 carats) glows around Dowse’s neck, earrings of the same stuff (19 carats) dangle from her ears, and, on her hands, a two-finger butterfly ring and a satin-band bracelet watch, both by Van Cleef & Arpels.
“I could get used to this,” Dowse says, as shoppers crane their necks to see her get into a waiting car from Designer Limousines in Port Washington for her photo session. (For the record, the clothes and jewelry were returned the minute the last photo was taken.)
“Who is she? Who is she?” they wonder, gazing at the shivering golden girl with the Veronica Lake hairdo and trying to figure out what they’ve seen her in. Our prediction: Give it a couple of years.
Daniel Craig, watch your back. The Americana Manhasset has tapped into the context of a suspenseful and stylish spy thriller for its Spring 2007 fashion book, entitling it “Jane Bond.” This season will also mark the first-ever addition of a complementary video highlighting the featured looks and offering viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the photo shoot.
The 56-page piece, photographed, produced, and styled by Laspata/DeCaro on location in Los Angeles in a 1960s glass and concrete house perched high in Beverly Hills, features models Du Juan and Lars in a series of heroine-chic sets, including a casino and command center, accessorized with every secret agent’s essential tools: a helicopter and an Aston Martin. The book will have a total distribution of approximately 130,000.
The 3.5-minute-long video, set to Bond-esque music, allows viewers to see the looks up close and in motion. It will be distributed via email blasts, and will be featured prominently on the center’s website, www.americanamanhasset.com.
The spring book also features an interview with Catherine Malandrino, one of the center’s newest tenants with her upscale Malandrino boutique. The designer has apparently taken quite a liking to the open-air shopping center, as she’s signed a lease to open a 3,000-sq.-ft. store on the south side of the complex this summer, occupying a slice of the recently vacated Barneys New York space. But that’s just the tip of the development iceberg. In addition to Catherine Malandrino, a yet-to-be-named multi-brand cosmetics and beauty shop is also slated to open, as is multi-brand contemporary store Lulu Couture, and the center’s second restaurant, an Asian-fusion eatery called Toku, designed by Bentel and Bentel.
In addition to those openings, Michael Kors is also expanding his boutique ,and Hermès is relocating to a larger store at the front entrance corner, opposite Prada. Also, London Jewelers will be opening a dedicated watch boutique.
Corey Piechotta watches his 3-year-old son, Joseph, giggle and run with a small herd of children from one end of a cushioned, rubber playground in Bay Shore to the other.
This is where Joseph comes a few times a week to socialize and get some exercise. This is where Piechotta comes to relax and take a break. This is the Westfield South Shore Mall.
“I think it’s really great that they put this here,” said Piechotta, 35, of Bay Shore, referring to Westfield’s indoor Playtown. “He knows most of the kids here, and when it rains outside or snows, this is the best place.” Playtown is just one of several family- and child-friendly amenities introduced to Westfield South Shore and Westfield Sunrise in Massapequa during the past few years to enhance the shopping experience, attract customers and make sure they return. Both locations offer free assistance carrying out packages, parking for expectant mothers, complimentary Kiddie Kruzzers – strollers in the shape of fire engines and cars – and a lounge for families in need of a break.
Striving for different
In the intensely competitive world of retailing, services such as these are increasingly becoming essential for a profitable survival, retail experts say.
During the past three to five years, malls have been striving to differentiate themselves from their big-box neighbors, national discount stores and online sites by offering greater comfort, more services and more entertainment for children and teens. The emphasis on public space in malls has grown as well, as owners attempt to reshape their retail environments into places for communal activity as well as individual shopping, experts say.
“This is really required now in the most competitive locations because malls are now under pressure from new delivery channels for retail goods,” said Michael Beyard, a senior resident fellow for retail and entertainment development at the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research organization. “It’s forcing them to become more user-friendly in the sense of fitting in to how people want to live and the whole aspect of convenience and comfort and pampering and indulgence – all the things Americans demand.”
Depending on the mall, the scale of amenities ranges broadly, from monthly children’s programs at The Mall at the Source in Westbury and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove to personal shoppers and concierge services (including tailoring) at the upscale Americana Manhasset, which falls in the category of shopping center.
“I think malls today have to differentiate themselves.” Said Nancy Gilbert, area director of strategic marketing for The Mall at the Source and Roosevelt Field in Garden City. “Malls need to find a niche that works for them. They have to figure out who their consumers are and then create programs that interest the consumer and bring them back to the mall time and time again.”
Crafts and coupons
Simon Property Group Inc., which owns three malls on Long Island, introduced the Simon Kidgits Club to Smith Haven Mall in 2003. For a $5 annual membership fee, a child can participate in monthly activities, which usually include some arts and crafts and an educational component. In addition, the children can pick up a free prize on each mall visit, and parents get a coupon sheet for discounts at specific retailers. Smith Haven now has more than 5,000 Kidgits members, said Vanessa Cusano, the mall’s marketing director.
The many members who show up regularly have become friends with other members, and their parents have found new social circles through the club, Cusano said.
“We really try and create special occasions for the kids and ways for them to develop a greater sense of belonging to the community and make friends,” she said.
Managers at The Mall at the Source started a Kidgits club there this year, after noticing that mothers with young children were frequent visitors. The club now has more than 400 members who attend activities with musicians, artists and other educators as guests.
“One of the reasons why we decided to launch Kidgits is because we realized that we had a ton of stroller moms in the shopping center,” Gilbert said, “Our children’s apparel stores are doing very well, and we just added Carter’s and OshKosh B’Gosh. So we thought, ‘What else can we do to continue them coming to or shopping center and give back to the consumers who have been really loyal to us?’”
Among other amenities, Simon malls offer Smarte Carte Strollers for about $4 to $5, complimentary wheelchairs and, at certain malls, gift-wrapping during the holiday season. At The Mall at the Source, valet parking is available for its restaurants’ guests.
While some retailers emphasize low prices, malls, and department stores and specialty shops have come to recognize that service can play a large role in their success, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for Port Washington-based NPD group. Many are using entertainment such as carousel rides and food-tasting events to bring in the traffic, he said.
“In the world we live in today, price is not the only factor,” Cohen said. “Even some of the outlet centers have created kid-friendly environments with on-center day care, so you can shop kid free…What has happened is that retailers have worked hard to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.”
Personal Shoppers At Americana Manhasset, owned by Castagna Realty Co., service has been at the hear of the center’s relationship with its shoppers, who pay premium prices at specialty stores like Dolce & Gabbana and Carolina Herrera. Seven days a week, the center offers the complimentary services of a personal shopper, and managers and sales staff of the individual stores phone their best customers to tell them about new items or invite them to trunk shows.
“Our personal shopper will shop stores with you, pull product for you to try in her private suite at our concierge, or even come to your home with product to try,” said Deirdre Costa Major, senior vice president of Americana Manhasset. “She makes a point of understanding her customers’ lifestyles and needs in order to best serve them, going the extra mile to make sure they are satisfied.”
The shopping center also reinforces client relationships by supporting its customers’ causes and charities through in-store events such as a five-day shopping benefit that took place earlier this month. Participating tenants of Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, also a Castagna property, donate 25 percent of designated purchases to the organization of the customer’s choice.
Transforming public spaces between stores has been just as important in attracting customers, industry experts say. Westfield’s South Shore and Sunrise malls have done that with their Playtowns, family lounges and, at Sunrise, the renovated Koi Fish Pond on the upper level. Westfield also worked with Paramount Pictures to bring an interactive barn based on the new movie “Charlotte’s Web.”
‘Moment to breathe’
Families in need of some “cool-down-time” can relax in the family lounges, which are equipped with well-cushioned chairs and sofas, private nursing stations, immaculate diaper changing stations, a microwave, bottle warmers, and a bathroom with an adult toilet and a smaller child’s version. Children also can unwind watching DVDs on a television.
“It’s a place to take the kids and take a moment to breathe,” said Christi Wallace, Westfield South Shore’s marketing director. The Playtown and the family lounge “have been a huge draw to the center and have encouraged customers to stay in the center longer.”
Those amenities and the Charlotte’s Web barn were the incentives for John Vartanian, 39, of Islip, and his wife, Norma, to come to the South Shore Mall with their daughter, Karina, 3.
While his wife shops and deals with returns, the barn has kept his daughter amused for a good hour, he said.
“I think it keeps the parents a little calmer and it keeps the kids calm,” he said. “And it keeps me an hour in the mall while she [his wife] is shopping, so the mall makes money.”
He paused to watch his daughter weave in and out of the barn and then hug Wilbur the pig.
“Do you want to play?” Wilbur asked.
“Yes,” she responded, and then said, “I love you.”
It has a reputation for being the ritziest of shopping destinations (J.Lo shops there!), but Americana is more inclusive than elitist: It’s as relaxed as it is sophisticated, with retailers like Gap, AnnTaylor, Banana Republic and even Athlete’s Foot positioned alongside high-end boutiques like Hermes and Prada. Unlike the Big Apple branches of some of these chains, however, the stores at Americana offer uniformly accomodating service with smaller crowds then you’d see int he city. Plus, as many insders know, trendy items like the latest bags and shoes are often still available in Manhasset, even if they’re sold out in the city.
-How to get there: By car, take the Long Island Expressway to exit 36, or go via the Long Islang Rail Road to Manhasset.
-When to go: Thursday evenings, when it’s open until 8.
-Don’t miss: The Shoe Box, for trendy footwear at a variety of price points.
-Where to eat: Cipollini, located at one end of the mall, for hearty Italian food and great people watching.
Where to stay: THe Roslyn Claremont Hotel, where rooms start at $179 on a weekend (516.625.2700) or, for a splurge, Oheka Castle, the second largest private home ever built in America, with 126 rooms. Rooms start at $295 on weekdays (631.659.1400; www.okeha.com).
While you’re there: The Nassau County Museum of Art; an exhibition of paintings by Long Island artist Mort Kunstler opens today.
More info: 516.627.2266; www.americanamanhasset.com.
Aug 01, 2006
‘Chasing Big Spenders: Stores Step Up Services for Key Luxe Customers’
by Sharon Edelson, WWD
The top 20 percent of shoppers will help propel the luxury goods market to $1 trillion by the end of the decade-and U.S. retailers are doing everything they can to snare them.
Stores such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s, not to mention specialty boutiques, are competing ever more aggressively to win the loyalty of these high spenders. Now it is no longer enough to execute their businesses flawlessly; stores must attend to their clients’ needs with above-and-beyond service, romance them with perks, shower them with gifts and provide them with access to special events. Providing lunch for a client seeing a personal shopper is de rigueur, as is having personal shoppers go to the homes of important customers and organize their closets.
Here are some of the special programs stores have to impress customers:
- Neiman Marcus’ rewards program, InCircle, has a special “thank you” for clients who accumulate five million points in one year ($1 spent on an NM credit card equals one point): membership in Exclusive Resorts, a luxury residence club, and three weeks in one of the residences. Virtuoso, a travel services for InCircle members, is based on the idea of “pulling strings” and uses the personal connections of agents to, for example, reserve an entire beach at Little Dix Bay.
- Saks Fifth Avenue’s menu of perks for Diamond Plus customers, who spend at least $25,000 a year at the store, includes free local delivery, complimentary valet parking, storage of one fur at no cost, advance notice of sales and invitations to special events. Saks also hosts a dinner at a top restaurant once a year for its best customers, who spend between $25,000 and $200,000 a year, and gives them a gift at the end of the evening.
- Jeffrey Kalinsky, founder of Jeffrey New York, has taken special clients to showrooms to be fitted for custom designs. In one case, Michael Kors took a customer’s measurements himself. Another time, Kalinsky arranged for designer Martin Grant to meet a customer’s daughter at his store where he measured her for a dress.
Danielle Merollo is another who has gone above and beyond, all in the name of service. She’s packed her customers’ suitcases for vacations, gone to Palm Springs on an errand for a client and spent part of her summer vacation in Florence searching for lace for another client.
Merollo, a personal shopper at the Americana Manhasset in Manhasset, N.Y., represents the new breed of retail employee who’ll stop at nothing to please a customer. No request is unreasonable “as long as it’s legal,” said Merollo, whose approach underscores the heightened competition among luxury retailers.
Barneys New York is aggressively expanding into markets dominated by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Nordstrom is committed to selling a comprehensive designer offering in at least one store in each of its major markets. European and American designers are building increasingly large flagships and opening multiple units in some cities.
“The high-end is where the money is, where all the growth is,” said Robert Buchanan, a retail analyst at A.G. Edwards. “That huge sucking sound at the back of the room is the sound of factory jobs permanently migrating to the Pacific Rim. In retailing it’s a game of haves and have-nots. If you have power and the aura of exclusivity…the world is your oyster.”
Four million U.S. households had net worth of more than $1 million last year, according to the Census Bureau. Consumers like these will be the ones driving growth in luxury goods, where sales are expected to jump to $1 trillion by the end of the decade from $525 million at the end of 2004, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
“The top 15 percent to 20 percent account for an astounding percentage of our business,” said Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s. “We have a very loyal customer base.”
A very small segment of Giorgio Armani’s total customer base in the U.S.-the top 5 percent-is responsible for a surprisingly large amount, 47 percent of total sales, according to Victoria Cantrell, senior vice president and chief information officer, Giorgio Armani Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Giorgio Armani SpA. The data underscore a mandate, she said: Protect the top-spending tier of customers and grow the next 30 percent tier though up-selling, cross-selling and greater loyalty.
Many stores said that the personal connections sales associates of personal shoppers make with customers is critical to building loyalty.
Merollo’s personality suits the Americana’s customers. Friendly, supportive, and honest, she won’t hesitate to tell a client an outfit isn’t right for her. The shopping center’s clients are social creature who are active on the charity circuit and love to flaunt their finery. They get a kick out of meeting designers and enjoy being treated like fashion insiders. “We take them to showroom events,” said Andrea Sanders, vice president of Americana Manhasset. “They like that. That kind of access is important to them. They asked to be taken to fashion shows in New York. They also like to go to the charity events they’re not involved with.”
Shoppers call Merollo at home at 7:30 a.m. and send her e-mails in the evening. “I’ve had people call me from the office and ask me to go to their homes and pick something out of the closet because they didn’t like what they were wearing,” ahse said, “I have the security codes to clients’ homes.”
But not all luxury customers are cut from the same silk cloth.
Merollo’s customers may crave attention, but Louis Boston’s clients have an understated New England sensibility. The stores highest-spending shoppers, who drop $80,000 to $100,000 a year, eschew entrance-making fashion and are turned off by fussy service which they perceive as overbearing. “My customer doesn’t want to be identified by clothes,” said owner Debbie Greenberg. “She doesn’t want to secure the ‘It’ handbag.”
Nor do fashion personalities particularly impress her. When Greenberg introduced Zac Posen, who was visiting the stores, to a customer one day, the woman quickly said “hello” and left.
Approaching these customers requires finesse. When they visit Louis Boston two or three times a year they expect to see a dressing room full of suitable outfits. “Everybody in the stores is a personal shopper,” Greenberg said. “They know their customers’ wardrobes inside and out and go to their homes to organize them. The sale associates don’t work on commission. I don’t believe that infuses good behavior. Their salary is based on a team effort.” Greenberg said she provides her customers with another service: the confidence of knowing they won’t see someone else wearing their dress when they go to a party. “I buy only one of every size in a style,” she said. “The floor is chock full of choices.” How can a customer who shops only twice a year score a new Marni dress in her size when inventory is so small? “You need to have your sales consultant selecting for you,” she said. “We’ll send something to a customer. If they like it, they’ll keep it. It they don’t, they’ll send it back.”
Many transactions at the luxury level are conducted in this way without customers ever setting foot in the store. Those who enjoy interacting with a sales associate expect a certain environment. Retailers know that a woman who’s uncomfortable in a dressing room won’t stay long enough to spend money.
“It’s all about intimacy,” said Holt Renfrew’s fashion director Barbara Atkin. “As stores get bigger we need to adopt the mind-set of small boutiques.”
The five new personal shopping suites at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street flagship in Toronto are a step in that direction. A dedicated elevator for the suites delivers customers to a lounge where there’s a kitchen and a marble bathroom. Each 600-square-foot suite is self-contained with a point-of-sale station, iPod docking station and high-tech lighting system. Between 5 and 10 percent of Holt Renfrew’s total business comes from personal shopping, according to Karen Lerner, president, who said she’d like to see it grow to 15 percent. “We empower our personal shoppers to know the right touchpoints for individualized service. Our personal shoppers go to runway shows and to market with the buyers,” Lerner said, noting that the retailer is looking to hire two personal shoppers for a total of six.
“We addressed the whole service aspect in the intimates department by putting a concierge in the fitting room complex,” said Bloomingdale’s Gould. “When a customer arrives on the selling floor, the concierge tries to determine what she’s looking for and finds an associate who can help her. The fitting rooms have a phone system. If something is not fitting, an associate will come in. We’re going to do this in lingerie departments throughout the chain. The whole subject of fitting rooms is a big opportunity. For a large store we’ve created a living room mentality where you can feel comfortable in the store. There are a lot of luxury stores. We think the DNA of Bloomingdale’s separates it from other stores selling luxury products. It’s an approachable brand.”
While discount and department store shoppers may have learned to lower customers’ expectations over the years, luxury shoppers believe they are entitled to special treatment. “The customer is changing and expectations are getting higher,” said Andrew Jennings, president and chief operating officer of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises. “It’s very exclusive treatment at this level.”
Saks customers can get complimentary companion tickets on British Airways and $850 off of a companion’s fare from Abercrombie & Kent. Asked why customers wealthy enough to qualify as top spenders would be interested in these deals, Saks spokeswoman said, “They like to be coddled. It’s the savings but also the treatment. Getting VIP treatment makes you feel special. It’s human nature. You love to get the prize.”
One of the most coveted events of the year is a dinner for best customers and its accompanying goodie bag. Last year about 90 people attended the dinner at HTwo at the Fifth Avenue flagship. Each guest went home with a cashmere blanket; Bacarat crystal cases and Faberge eggs were gifts in previous years. “This year the dinner will be at Le Cirque,” Jennings said. “It’s going to be fantastic.”
Kalinsky said customers who want VIP service in his stores must keep up their end of the bargain. “Anybody who wants special treatment needs to be somewhat loyal to the store and the salesperson,” he said. “Complete loyalty is a little unrealistic. Clients shop in Paris and I wouldn’t expect them not to. If the chemistry is there and you’re loyal, you’re going to benefit in some tangible way. I don’t give discounts to my best clients or someone who walks in and wants to buy 15 pairs of shoes. I don’t give discounts to celebrities.” He does spend time with special customers, whether its helping them put together an outfit an event or choosing a fall wardrobe.
And while luxury stores might go to unusual lengths to cater to customers, more mainstream stores are also recognizing the old retails adage that 20 percent of their customers account for 80 percent of their sales and are out to better cater to their needs. When Gap launched Forth & Towne last August, executives said service would be a cornerstone of the new retail concept. Sales associates, called “style consultants, are found throughout the store. Gap executives said the staffers, who have been recruited from spas, hotels and fashion firms, are trained to show customers how to mix and match items to create outfits, and will be eager to help without being overbearing.
Underscoring how much Forth & Towne wants to convey a service ethic and wardrobe building, it will advertise Tea for Tuesdays, when customers are asked to bring in their favorite items and request that the staff complement it with a jacket or pants to create an outfit.”
At the Americana in Manhasset, Frank Castagna’s high-end shopping strategy is paying off.
The suit is a gray pinstripe by Polo Ralph Lauren. The blue and silver tie, Chanel. And the distinctive silver watch with the deep blue dial? “Cartier,” says Frank Castagna, forgoing the proper French elocution to pronounce the “r” at the end.
His impeccable attire for a day at the office suits Castagna’s status as the owner of the Americana Manhasset shopping center, a pinnacle of luxury retailing in America.
But his disarming way of speaking suits Castagna’s background as the man who spent 50 years creating this shopping destination out of a strip mall that once housed a supermarket, a drugstore and a movie theater. With his international wardrobe and approachable manners, Castagna is a man with a deep understanding of a certain local shopper and what that shopper wants.
Which is plenty: a $22,000 Fendi bag in green alligator skin. A pair of distressed Dolce & Gabbana jeans for $850. A Jil Sander casual blue leather jacket for $2,850. The 60 shops at the Americana include the highest-echelon status brands in the world today: Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and more, all in a 220,000-square-foot open-air setting. Considered a contender withRodeo Drive and Madison Avenue, it’s a playground for the fashion-obsessed with the net worth to stay in the game.
It’s taken five decades of winnowing out shops that didn’t fit the image and putting just the right ones in their places, but Castagna, 77, says he has finally assembled the mix of coveted labels he’s always envisioned. “It has a cohesive energy to it, and it says what we want it to say,” he said. “That this is the home of the great luxury brands, the successful luxury brands.”
To some, it may say, “Don’t shop here if there’s a limit on your credit cards.” But that exclusivity is paying off for retailers there. The Americana brings in the fourth highest sales per square foot of any shopping center in the United States, averaging $1,100, almost triple the figure of a typical enclosed mall.
At the Americana, it’s all about the labels, and that dovetails with the tastes of upscale shoppers today. Nationally, spending at luxury stores has been on a tear in the past three years, up almost 5 percent in 2003, 10 percent in 2004 and 6 percent in 2005, while overall store sales in shopping centers have been up less than 4 percent in each of those years, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
But there’s more to the ascent of the Americana than its merchandise. Castagna has succeeded in linking the center to the surrounding Gold Coast community, tapping into the charity/socialite/hard-core shopping circuit of Long Island. He is on the boards of some of the Island’s leading charities, and the Americana is a frequent site for charity events and other parties.
50th anniversary bash
Last Wednesday evening, for example, there was fashion gridlock as women in perilous heels and men in well-tailored suits mingled with the rapper LL Cool J, who managed to stand out in blinding diamond earrings and a matching necklace. They were celebrating the opening of an exhibit of mid-century art and furnishing design to mark the center’s 50th anniversary.
“You can’t turn around at a charity event without seeing representatives from the Americana,” said Nancy Waldbaum, a director of the foundation of the Waldbaum’s supermarket family. “If you go to an event and don’t see them, you should call the Americana and find out if everyone is ill.”
She has served with Castagna on the boards of several institutions, including the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. She is also a loyal Americana shopper, buying 67 gifts last year at holiday time. She selected them herself, but for help with wrapping and delivery, she used the personal shopping service at the center.
“It’s so user-friendly,” Waldbaum said. Once, when she was pregnant, she needed a gown for a black-tie event. The Escada store at the Americana offered her a black chiffon halter dress with a jeweled collar, then added fabric from another dress to create extra room and sleeves with matching jeweled cuffs.
“If you shop in Manhattan, you can’t get that,” Waldbaum said. “This is still a mom-and-pop entity.”
By design, the service goes well beyond that of a corner store. “It’s not about going to the mall environment where you’re fighting crowds,” said Marshal Cohen, the fashion analyst for the NPD Group market research company in Port Washington. “This is for people who shop for pleasure and treat it as a leisure activity. They want to have a relationship with the brand, be treated like royalty.”
Castagna and his staff make sure of it. “They’re very demanding of the tenants,” said Michael Burke, chief executive of Fendi, which has a store there. “They shop us. If there’s a problem with a sales associate, they call me in Rome.”
Fendi shops in New York or Florida draw a high percentage of tourists, but the Americana shopper is loyal and local, Burke said. “She is a professional shopper. She shops us almost every day. She wants absolute perfect service, and she expects the latest runway looks.”
Starting at the low end
That was hardly the ambience of the property on Northern Boulevard at Searingtown Road when Frank Castagna joined his family’s general contracting company in 1956. His vision, even then, was to turn the nondescript collection of stores into the Fifth Avenue of Long Island. But as the economy weakened, talks fell apart to bring in Saks Fifth Avenue and then Henri Bendel as anchor department stores. To survive, Castagna signed long-term leases with a discount store, supermarket and other tenants that didn’t fit the plan.
As those leases expired, Castagna Realty, the owner of the shopping center, turned down potentially lucrative tenants to focus instead on luxury. “We realized we had to be strong in one area,” Castagna said.
In the ’80s, he brought in architect Peter Marino to give the center an upscale look with limestone facades, granite sidewalks and seasonal landscaping. All this was designed to appeal to the high-end demographic of the North Shore, where the top 10 ZIP codes that shop the Americana have an average household income of $154,718, and where country clubs, golf courses and yacht harbors keep residents near home most of the year.
Even so, 8 percent of the shoppers come from Manhattan, drawn by the easy proximity of their favorite shops. “If they have a car and driver, they’re here,” Castagna said.
Merging commerce, altruism
The Americana was among the first to link retailing to charity, now a common strategy at department stores. In 1996, Castagna started Champions for Charity, an event held the first week of every December in which customers direct 25 percent of the price of their purchases to various local causes.
Castagna’s own involvement with philanthropy goes beyond business strategy, said Arthur Levine, an apparel executive who lives in Old Brookville. He has alternated with Castagna as president of the Nassau County Museum of Art. “He’s there with an open pocketbook, but it’s more than that. Frank is always there,” Levine said. Castagna is also a friend and donor to politicians from the governor on down.
“If you look at the way he’s dressed and presents himself, you know he’s a perfectionist – he should be in Gentlemen’s Quarterly,” said Carol Wolowitz of Manhasset. She’s served with Castagna or his wife, Rita, on numerous boards, including the museum, hospital and UJA Federation.
For Wolowitz and her friends, the Americana is a social center. “Everyone meets there for lunch,” she said. “Then you know what happens. You walk around and get into trouble, but it’s pleasant trouble. I love beautiful things, so I’m off and shopping.” Her most recent purchase was a pair of black leather Michael Kors sandals with a natural wedge base, very on-trend for spring.
Wolowitz frequently sees Castagna walking among the shops. When he’s not, he works out of an upstairs office, where he’s brightened the beige walls and carpeting with sailing watercolors and a sculpture of a chess piece, the white queen. Does he play? “Enough to land a few victories,” Castagna said.
Later, on a tour of the shops, the Americana creative director, Deirdre Costa Major, answered a question about Castagna’s chess-playing skills while showing off the styles calculated to sell this spring – a white eyelet-lace dress at Prada ($2,195), a tan suede Jimmy Choo handbag with Swarovski crystals ($2,950) at Hirshleifer’s.
“He probably doesn’t have much time to play chess,” she said, and gestured around her. “This is the chess game he focuses on most of the time.”
Profile of a career shopper
An unusually high percentage of shoppers at the Americana Manhasset are reluctant to talk to a reporter. And an unusually high percentage of those give the same reason: “Please, I don’t want my husband to know.”
So it fell to Lori Hirshleifer Sills, a fourth-generation member of the family that runs Hirshleifer’s at the Americana Manhasset, to answer the question: Who shops at the all-luxury shopping center?
“She is a customer who knows what she wants,” said Sills, whose store on a recent afternoon hummed with women wanting clothing and bags and shoes by Chanel, Valentino and other look-at-me designers.
“The shopper in New York is very busy with her career. Here, shopping is her career.”
Every season, the Americana owner, Frank Castagna, and its creative director, Deirdre Costa Major, try to stay ahead, attending fashion shows in New York, Milan and Paris to search for retailers their shoppers will like – cutting-edge, but not too edgy.
Americana customers want to be glamorous but don’t want to be fashion victims, Costa Major said. They are practical and family-oriented, often having earned their money – and they do earn plenty of money – as entrepreneurs.
“So the product has to be right,” she said. “They like brands, because brands give you a reliable product. When you have a certain brand, it’s like an advertisement that you’re savvy, you’re part of a club.”
One shopper who was willing to talk fit the profile.
“I shop twice a week,” said Carolee Kass, a baby boomer visiting from Quogue who is partial to handbags from Coach or Louis Vuitton pouches as gifts. How does she have the time? “I don’t do anything else,” Kass laughed. “I used to work. My husband works. I don’t.”
In her shopping bag from Barneys, Kass carried a gift for her self-employed husband – four Lacoste shirts in various colors, a relative bargain at $40 apiece.
She thought he’d wear them on a trip to St. Martin.
But other husbands may stay in the dark about Americana shopping sprees. The Fendi shop at the Americana is home to the Spybag, a burnished leather hobo style that’s been a bestseller for three seasons at $2,000. Out of all the Fendi stores, according to Fendi chief executive Michael Burke, “the one at the Americana may have the highest proportion of split payments.”
That means, he explained, that customers divide the cost of one purchase among two or three credit cards. And that means, he added, that spouses stay blissfully unaware of the total price.
Americana Manhasset has created its first pop-up store, called Distinctly Modern, to mark its 50th anniversary.
The pop-up store will display mid-century-inspired furnishings as well as artwork, vintage posters and books on fashion, architecture, design and pop culture, including some about Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. The books were provided by the book dealer partners John McWhinnie and Glenn Horowitz. Herman Miller from the retailer Design Within Reach is providing the furniture and will highlight pieces from the Eames Collection. There also will be Fifties Bentleys and Triumph motorcycles in the shop.
The Americana’s spring catalogue, currently being distributed to 270,000 households, also has the Distinctly Modern tag line, and pays homage to the Fifties but with a contemporary edge and current fashion. It was photographed by Laspate DeCaro on the grounds of two famous Palm Springs homes, the Edgar J. Kaufman house built in 1947 and the Robert Kenaston home built in 1957.
The 1,200-square-foot pop-up store, in a space formerly housing Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman shops, opens Thursday and will operate through April 20. On Wednesday night, the birthday celebration will kick off with a cocktail part at the pop-up store hosted by Americana Manhasset with Vanity Fair. To bring the spirit of the Fifties to life, there will be models wearing Schlumberger jewelry designed for Tiffany, windows with photos from the spring catalogue and waiters clad in Fifties attire.
Through the year, Americana’s special events, opening and charity fund-raisers will tie into the milestones, including an Oscar de la Renta fashion show in September to support the North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital, a Pan-Asian restaurant opening in August run by George and Gillis Poll, and the center’s Champion’s for Charity event in December benefiting more than 80 nonprofit organizations.
“It isn’t about massive celebrations,” explained Frank Castagna, principal of Castagna Realty Co. and owner Americana Manhasset. “It’s about recognizing we have been a factor in this community for 50 years. It’s really about community relations.”
“We are staging a series of festivities throughout the year to bring people on site, rather than having one big blowout that may or may not impact our customers,’ added Deirdre Costa Major, senior vice president and creative director of the Americana Manhasset.
The shopping center, located on Northern Boulevard in Manhasset, is unique on the suburban retail landscape, considering its high concentration of chic shops, urbane architecture, meticulous landscaping and focused designer appeal. About three years ago, it orchestrated its biggest expansion ever, which involved razing Waldbaum’s, extending its classic limestone facades and adding a designer wing, bringing the total space to 220,000 square feet.
As a girl growing up in Douglaston Manor, Danielle Merollo accompanied her mother on shopping trips to the Americana Manhasset on the North Shore’s Miracle Mile. First, lunch at La Crepe, then maybe a stop into Hirshleifer’s to see the latest fashions.
Now, Merollo, 37, spends everyday at the tony shopping center, fulfilling the desires – and gift lists – of other New Yorkers.
As the center’s only personal shopper, she has one word for her life during the holiday season: hectic. About 75 individuals and 20 corporate clients rely on Merollo.
“They give me a list, they give me price points and they say, ‘Go with it,’” she said.
Those price points can get pretty steep. One man asked her to spend $175,000 on a gift for his fiancee – jewelry, of course.
Most presents are more modest, though that’s a relative term when you’re talking about stores like Gucci, Prada and Hermès.
Men might request mink coats or Chanel handbags for their wives; women like to buy casual wear for their husbands – the kinds of clothes they want them to wear, versus what those men might pick out if plopped into a store on their own.
“One client wanted a velvet jacket for her husband,” Merollo said. “Most men wouldn’t go out and buy that for themselves.”
Some customers are actively involved in the decisions – they want to discuss possibilities, approve or veto the goodies. Others simply say, “Just tell me what’s in the box.”
Is there something impersonal about asking a third party to act as a go-between in the intimate exchange that is gift-giving? Isn’t it one of those few opportunities for a person to tell their spouse, their child, their best friend: “I know who you are; this gift reflects how deeply I know you”?
Merollo doesn’t buy that. She builds up relationships with clients over years, getting to know them, their tastes, often members of their families. “So it’s very easy for them to give me a list. A mom can come in and say, ‘I’m going to get this sweater for Jack,’ and I can say, ‘He’s never going to wear it.’”
Merollo will be working “up until the last second” this year. Since she spends the entire season playing Santa for other people, she has to be disciplined about her own holiday shopping.
“I’m usually done in August,” she said. “If I don’t do it then, it’ll never get done.”
Beyond all the crass stereotypes lies another, more genteel Long Island. A Long Island redolent of C.Z. Guest puttering around the garden in Old Westbury, of Woolworth mansions and of Roosevelt homesteads. It is to this more lavish demographic that the Americana Manhasset – one of the country’s most chichi shopping destinations – caters. Built in the 1950′s, its strip-mall façade was gorgeously lifted in the 80′s by Peter Marino, global luxury’s architect of choice. Today, the Americana Manhasset, with its 60 retail stores, is the Rodeo Drive of the North Shore. Luckily for Manhattanites, it’s just a 50-minute jaunt on the Long Island Rail Road. Here are our nine favorite spots. 1
If you can make it past the white logo rain boots, a Bianca Jagger-lounging-chez-Halston moment awaits you on the floor of Fendi Casa upstairs. There, a pair of ottoman pillows brazenly emblazoned with giant “F” logos in Swarovski crystals are poised to jet you to Studio 54. 2024 Northern Boulevard.
The Prada store is a dead ringer for the ones on Madison Avenue, Milan’s Via Montenapoleone and Tokyo’s Omotesando. But once inside this mint-green sanctum, you’ll be able to browse the entire Prada universe sans tourists. You might even find one of the few remaining Bakelite watches. 2000 Northern Boulevard.
Kate Spade New York
For the shopper feeling a bit more Babe Paley via Slim Aarons, there’s no place like the Kate Spade boutique. With a cavalcade of tasteful doodads to choose from (tennis balls, polka-dot umbrellas, candy bars and gin-rummy cordial glasses, to name a few), Kate Spade is a one-stop destination for all your hostess-gift needs. Less selfless gals can pick up a limited-edition python clutch from the new Kate Spade Collect range. 2032 Northern Boulevard.
This Italian leather company allows the gentleman shopper to access his inner Claus von Bulow with dog bowls, driving gloves, slippers and more in its logo basket weave. Scarsdale Dieters will find plenty to keep themselves happy, from roomy shoulder bags to tennis-racket totes. 2060 Northern Boulevard.
London Jewelers provides the perfect destination for Anastasia-conspiracy theorists: shelves of crystal-encrusted enamel Fabergé frames filled with images of the last Romanovs. For those whose fantasies lean more toward the Viennese school of Empress Maria Theresa, Herend porcelain from Hungary tempts. And bijoux from Vera Wang, Buccellati and David Yurman are also on hand. 2046 Northern Boulevard.
CH Carolina Herrera
Logoholics who still wish to remain unique can achieve nirvana at CH Carolina Herrera, the bridge line. One of just four United States outposts, it is stocked with a huge assortment of suitcases, travel pillows, sneakers, baseball caps, teddy bears and coffee totes. Yes, coffee totes. 2110 Northern Boulevard.
This fashion emporium desperately made us wish we were Suzanne Saperstein in the mood for a makeover. Its J. Mendel boutique serves up tasteful Traina sisters elegance, while the Dolce & Gabbana shop sells separates that take you from lunch at the Ivy to the plastic surgeon or a weekend in Aspen, Colorado. The Chanel boutique offers classic black dresses that scream Vanessa Paradis as styled by Carine Roitfeld, and the Valentino stop-n-shop feels very Marisa Berenson-on-the-witnes-stand: sober but ultrachic. 2080 Northern Boulevard.
Here, lovely ladies who envision themselves as Eva Longoria working a casual-day look in the pages of OK! Magazine can peruse the jeans with a sparkly “E” plastered on high-visibility areas. 2006 Northern Boulevard.
The sole culinary choice at the Americana. Order takeout at Cipollini Pronto or park yourself at the trattoria and watch the refreshing blend of inappropriately dressed teenagers, preppy doyennes and Mouna Ayoub manquées as you await your cab back to the station. 2110C Northern Boulevard.
NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta is having his Miracle Mile moment.
Tonight the designer will be celebrating the opening of his latest boutique at the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y., with a private party at the store benefiting the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club. The Locust Valley, N.Y., charitable organization serves 250 youths daily by offering them a place to unwind with sports, education and leadership initiatives.
The new de la Renta boutique, measuring at more than 2,000 square feet of selling space, is in a spot previously occupied by Yves Saint Laurent and is de la Renta’s fourth unit. Much like the designer’s other stores, the corner boutique has a bright and airy feel, with natural light streaming in from two sides, and features such as coral stone and plaster palm trees.
Alex Bolen, Oscar de la Renta’s president and chief executive officer, said the Americana was a natural choice for retail expansion.
“As we look at areas to open retail stores, we look for two things: a place with an affluent local customer and also active and affluent tourist traffic,” he said. “The Americana Manhasset mall is absolutely one of those places, as evidenced by the other brands which have chosen to open there.”
Over the past year, the company has embarked on an aggressive freestanding retail growth strategy, having opened units on Madison Avenue; in Bal Harbour, Fla., and in Las Vegas. Bolen explained that one of the reasons to make a push into freestanding stores was to eventually be able to expand its business in Europe. In the U.S., he said, the company has “tremendous opportunities” to further increase its business with wholesale accounts such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. He added that, in Europe, “there is no Saks or Neiman’s, so to have a meaningful business, it’s either through specialty stores or with our own stores. Before we move into places where we don’t speak the language, we should make sure we have a retail concept that’s compelling, so we wanted to try a few places here first.”
Next on the national list would be a Southern California unit, but the company also is looking to find the right location for its first store in Europe, which likely will be located in a capital city such as London, Paris, Moscow or Madrid.
As for the Manhasset store, Bolen couldn’t give sales projections, but said: “We have high hopes for the store, and think it could be one of our best performers.”
He added the Madison Avenue unit was projected to do $1,500 a square foot, and exceeded that number “substantially.”
“We hope to be able to do similar numbers at Manhasset,” he said.
Although I have lived in New York for almost two decades, I had not until recently visited the Miracle Mile in Manhasset, N.Y., a stretch of stores along Northern Boulevard anchored by the Americana Manhasset mall. Everything I knew about the Miracle Mile was limited to information gleaned from the 1980 Billy Joel song “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” It was presumably a thoroughfare on which a person might cruise after equipping one’s car with whitewall tires.
The Mile, of course, is the retail epicenter of suburban Long Island, a place where ladies from the five towns cluster on weekday afternoons at the Americana’s Cipollini Trattoria gossip about what they are going to wear for the high holidays. The centerpiece of the Americana is Hirshleifer’s, a regionally legendary store that is made up of high-end boutiques like Chanel, J.Mendel, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana.
I own three pieces of Dolce & Gabbana clothing. The first is a long black velvet jacket printed with lilies, purchased at a sample sale several years ago for $85. The second is a vivid green satin evening dress from Woodbury Common, and the third is the jacket portion of a black suit my husband bought me for Christmas last year.
I used to own a fourth item: the pants that went with the suit, but in a mystery tantalizing enough to serve as a pilot for an episode of “Cold Case Files,” they were abducted from my closet.
I relished the chance to return to Dolce & Gabbana and see if there were pieces entrancing enough for me to lust after until they might up at a sample sale or the husband could be persuaded to drink enough hot buttered rums to forget he had ever bought me a suit there in the first place. Rather than visit the flagship store on Madison Avenue, I chose the Manhasset location because I was curious: does the expensive and often seriously seductive Dolce & Gabbana play outside 10021?
It does, and here’s why. Dolce & Gabbana sends looks down the runways every season that are either saint or sinner, Madonna (as in aesthetic-religious iconography) or Madonna (as in the singer, circa the pre-Madge days). On Madison Avenue, you’ll get a lot of sinner and a bit of saint. In Manhasset you’ll get the same amount of both, with a dash of virgin prom queen thrown in for good measure.
In a touching nod to the domestic nature of the suburbs, the Manhasset store stocks men’s clothes at the front and women’s at the back. That would never work on Madison Avenue, where men don’t often accompany women shopping, if the women are even married.
But Manhasset is a more domestic type of place: I saw three middle-aged couples strolling the shops arm in arm on a weekday afternoon. It is much less emasculating for a man to walk into a store in the which the men’s clothes are prominently displayed at the front than for him to be led by the nose straight through the front doors to the women’s merchandise. At least in Manhasset he can pretend to look at the leather bomber jackets while his female companion heads for the goods.
Although Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana announced late last year that they had broken up as a couple, this is their 20th year designing clothing together. Among other sources, they have drawn inspiration from the grandmothers of southern Ital, from the angular suite once worn by the Mafia from their Roman Catholicism. (Both describe themselves as credenti, or believing Catholics.)
This collection, like previous ones, mixes pieces that evoke sex and bondage with those that are pillbox-hat prim. A black corset dress with a satin front panel and lace bust and side is $775. A white shift dress in wool is $1,150. A demure matching coat, with fur collar, is $2,995; A body-hugging floor length gown in black stretch satin is $2,400.
Chiffon panels tease out from inside the folds of a wool skirt, but the matching cashmere sweater with pearl buttons assures it propriety. Doris Day could have worn the yellow chiffon cocktail dress with a rhinestone belt and silk rose at the waist. If she had the $5,950.
Most entrancing was a white and gold cocktail dress with rhinestone details and a matching knee-length jacket. It somehow made even me look like Jackie Onassis. At $4,700 it was a bargain, assured the sales clerk, who looked eerily like the escaped suburban housewife played by Rosanna Arquette in the 1985 movie “Desperately Seeking Susan.” After all, she reasoned, I was getting two pieces.
Perhaps because Mr. Dolce and Mr. Gabbana tend to strike their accessories broadly with the letters D and G in rhinestones, Rosanna Arquette brought me a slim anonymous-looking purse in gold (“Jimmy Choo” etched in tiny letters on the zipper pull) and a pair of gold sandals. (Hirshleifer’s also has a Choo boutique.)
I paused. Swooned. Perspective time. The top fifth of earners in Manhasset now make 52 times what the lowest fifth make: $365,826 compared with $7,047. Or for every dollar made by wealthy households, poor households make about 2 cents. So if rich New Yorkers are paying $4,700 for a dress and jacket, the poorest would need divine intervention for the same bargain.
Here I was on the Miracle Mile, and although I hadn’t heard Billy Joel’s ode to it in years, I could still remember the lyrics as if I had belted it out while driving my parents’ station wagon yesterday.
“Don’t you know about the new fashion honey? All you need are looks and a whole lotta money.”
Americana Manhasset and W Magazine hosted an elegant evening to celebrate the opening of Cipollini Trattoria and Bar, the luxury retail center’s hot, new Italian restaurant. Guests enjoyed a sumptuous buffet of northern Italian delicacies, fresh seafood and wood-fired, this crust pizza, along with assorted martinis, fine wine and champagne.
Owner George and GIlles Poll greeted a smartly dressed crowd that included former New York Jets quarterback and Long Island native Vinnie Testsverde, New York Giants place kicker Sean Landeta and legendary actor Ben Gazzara. Also on hand were Americana Manhasset owners Rita and Frank Castagna, President/CEO John Gutleber and Senior Vice President/Creative Director Deirdre Costa Major, who welcomed guests such as J. Mendel’s Peter Avazis, Tiffany & Co.’s Brian Ensor and Hirshleifer’s Lori Hirshleifer – all tenants of the chic North Shore shopping mecca.
Also joining the party to welcome their new culinary and neighbor were representatives from Christian Dior, Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton to name just a few. Many of Long Island’s best dressed women, including Katie Lee Joel (the Piano Man’s wife), Niki Gregory, Cathy Wells and Linda Correia. So much fun was had by all that the party continued into the wee hours with many guests dancing to the pulsating drum and bass beat of a conga DJ. It’s clear that Cipollini is destined to be not only a favorite lunch locale but also one of the hottest night spots on Long Ilsnad’s North Shore.
CIPOLLINI defines trattoria. This Manhasset newcomer, which replaced Payard, is not a fancy spot even though it is owned by Gillis and George Poll, who also run the nearby Bryant & Cooper, one of Long Island’s best steakhouses. This is no ristorante with white tablecloths and hushed service.
Trattoria implies casual surroundings, and Cipollini complies. Floors are tiny white tiles, tablecloths are covered with paper and a wood-burning oven turns out pizzas. Walls are covered in dark wood paneling, and massive framed mirrors make the long, narrow space seem larger.
But these hard surfaces create a noise level that requires diners to shout just to be heard by their tablemates. Add the cacophony from those waiting in the bar, and you have a rollicking spot. It is hip, hot, loud and fun, but not relaxing. Go for the scene, not to be soothed.
One night, about a dozen model look- alikes adorned the bar before being paraded to their table. Other tables were filled with North Shore power brokers who waved, blew air kisses to one another and table-hopped. Still others were occupied by families — the parents could relax because their small children couldn’t be heard or disturb anyone.
Service was as casual as the ambience. The waitress and waiter we were assigned were sweet and attentive. Still, the silverware had to last the whole meal, and diners who surrendered their forks after their appetizers regretted it when entrees were delivered.
The kitchen was speedy, and at midweek the meal was well paced, but on a busy Saturday, it was a bit rushed. That night, the pizza we were still enjoying was whisked away to make room for other appetizers.
Be sure to try one of those thin-crusted pizzas. The sausage, roasted pepper and garlic-oil version was a standout.
Although most meat and fish entrees are $20 or so, there are enough lower-priced selections to ensure that your bill will not rival the national debt. Pizzas and pastas are in the mid-teens, and panini and the burger are $12.
Two standouts among the pastas were the pappardelle in a rich, cream-touched veal ragout and the very tasty spaghetti carbonara dotted with peas. Sandwiches were made with ciabatta rolls, then pressed on the grill till their cheese melted and they were toasty.
The best entrees were the moist and flavorful roasted whole branzino and the chicken scarpariello served on the bone in a lush brown sauce rife with rosemary and whole cloves of garlic. The veal and lamb chops were juicy and cooked to order but were not the thick steakhouse versions.
Pay attention to the risotto of the day. We tried a winner with meltingly soft pieces of rabbit and nubbins of carrot, asparagus and cipollini (the only namesake onion encountered).
Appetizers are expensive, especially when compared with the other prices. Except for soups and the mixed salad ($6), they hover around $10 and top out at $15. The standard Caesar salad, for example, was $9.50, and a delicious but small seafood salad was $14.50.
PARIS, March 1 – And so, as the saying goes, the dogs barked and the fashion caravan moved on, this time to Paris. Having folded their tents in New York, London and Milan, the barkers, the talent, the showpieces, the claques all followed in a semiannual migration, their movement propelled on a river of talk.
“Gucci is starting to come up – it was struggling, really struggling big-time for a couple of years,” said Frank Castagna, the chief executive of Castagna Realty, owner of the Americana shopping center in Manhasset, N.Y., which is to most luxury malls as St. Peter’s Basilica is to a little church in a dell.
Forget the stock reports, the focus groups, the self-appointed market prophets, always willing to skew their analysis to fit a reporter’s thesis of the moment. Mr. Castagna is the man who virtually invented the luxury shopping strip by taking an assortment of fading carriage trade boutiques on the North Shore of Long Island and adding to them the slick aura of destination.
With the help of the architect Peter Marino and the gifted landscape designers Oehme, van Sweden Associates, who lined pedestrian Route 25A with swathes of glaucous cultivated grasses, Mr. Castagna laid the groundwork for a temple to the cult of luxury. Where once there was a Miracle Mile consisting of genteel dinosaurs like Best & Co. (where this reporter was introduced to the Eton-collared jacket at age 5), a handful of local carriage trade merchants and a vast depressing Waldbaums, the Americana now stands as luminous and humming with promise as the Crystal Cathedral on a desert Sunday morning.
When Mr. Castagna talks, merchants listen. Well, maybe they don’t always listen, but they should. How many truth-tellers are there in an industry in which hype is mother’s milk? “YSL is still struggling, and Cartier is still a little slow for us,” he said. “Prada was flat for three years now, but now it’s coming up.”
The money is still out there, but it’s in different hands than in the days when Hicksville was still a suburban dream of the future and Billy Joel had yet to be born. And the customer for luxury goods has changed tremendously, said Mr. Castagna, whose shopping center is a short driving distance from 12 of the top scorers in a Worth magazine survey of America’s richest towns. “The average age of the shopper 20 years ago was 60,” he said. Now it is closer to 40. “And those people are not empty-nesters. They have children living at home.”
Do you want to know who is buying those $300 Marc Jacobs flats and the $2,970 bag from Dior? It is likely to be a 17-year-old with her own platinum card. “They have a lot of available income now,” Mr. Castagna said. “These people take care of their kids.”
NEW YORK — From the thousands of bulbs planted annually on its grounds to its exclusive tenant mix, the Americana Manhasset for decades has been meticulous about projecting an elegant image.
Now the Long Island shopping center, among the nation’s toniest, is taking the imaging one step further by injecting its own creative spin on its triannual catalogues.
The spring book has 44 pages, a “Now, Voyager” theme to evoke the Thirties and traveling and is perhaps the center’s moodiest catalogue to date. It has no ads, cost about $600,000 to create, print and distribute, and will be mailed in about three weeks, according to officials from the center.
Deirdre Costa Major, senior vice president and creative director of Americana Manhasset, characterized the effort as “a partnership” between the center and its tenants, including Barneys New York, Christian Dior, Gucci and about 30 other designer brands. The images were photographed by the Laspata/DeCaro advertising agency in Building One at Newark Liberty International Airport, an Art Deco landmarked structure that’s vacant. Models Heather Marks, Caroline Winberg and Louise Pederson are in the shoot, and the set design was by Mary Howard Studio.
“It’s all shot with an editorial feel,” said Andrea Sanders, Americana Manhasset’s director of branding and communications. “There’s a consistent aesthetic.”
In recent years, other shopping centers have begun distributing catalogues in similar branding efforts, but generally, the standards of photography and fashion content are not as high as those of Americana Manhasset’s. The others often don’t have an editorial theme to create a consistency from page to page through the catalogue.
The Americana Manhasset, located on the intersection of Searingtown Road and Northern Boulevard, has been distributing catalogues since 1993. The center always partnered with W Magazine (sister publication to WWD) on the creation and distribution. However, that changed with the holiday 2004 edition, when the center first teamed with Laspata/DeCara on the project. Currently, Americana Manhasset has three books a year; fall, spring and holiday. W Magazine will still do one a year instead of all three, Costa Major said.
The spring book, at 10 inches by 13 inches, is about an inch wider and about a half-inch taller than the holiday book, which was themed “A North Shore Story.” The cover for spring is white, with the Americana Manhasset logo and the title “Now, Voyager,” drawn from the Bette Davis film.
For prior catalogues, “we used the creative from the advertisers. It was a real mix, and the editorial had limitations. We couldn’t brand ourselves as effectively,” Costa Major said.
The upcoming spring catalogue will be inserted with W Magazine’s March issue in the New York metro area and Palm Beach in addition to its mailings, for a total distribution of 130,000. There also will be a four-page montage of the catalogue inserted in the Feb. 20 edition of The New York Times’ T magazine for the New York area.
The editorial includes a letter from Costa Major, a two-page spread on trends and a two-page interview with designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana, which last year opened a store in the Americana. That store is owned by Hirshleifer’s, the family-run designer emporium.
The catalogue also has information about goings-on at the center, including a newly designed Estée Lauder spa, the Cipollini restaurant-cafe opening at the end of February and the fact that 200,000 bulbs get planted every year at the center.
“We want to talk directly to our customer,” Costa Major said.
NEW YORK — The Estée Lauder Cos. has unveiled a new retail concept for its namesake brand at Americana Manhasset on Long Island and plans to use the new format as a blueprint for its future stores.
Senior vice president and global creative director Aerin Lauder was on hand at a recent opening to show off the store, which was designed in conjunction with modernist design maven and store owner Murray Moss — as in the SoHo store called Moss.
The Lauder store has a modern and graphic look, with sculptural Venetian glass chandeliers and a long mirrored table. On the ground level, color cosmetics are situated atop a long rectangular table centrally located in the nave, which culminates with a larger-than-life visual from the advertising campaign that will change each month.
The space is subdivided into what Lauder called vignettes, which are separate wall displays of brushes, mascaras, fragrances and accessories. All color cosmetics are located on a central table, which Lauder likened to a kitchen table, around which anyone can feel comfortable to gather and play.
Eva Lorenzotti, founder of the Vivre catalogue, handpicks the accessories. Offerings include handbags, limited-edition crystal-encrusted fragrance compacts, as well as jewelry inspired by ads featuring Carolyn Murphy, Liya Kebede and longtime Lauder spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley.
Judging from the price points, the store is aimed squarely at the affluent mall shopper. Accessories range from about $50 for a compact to $2,000 for a gold lizard handbag. Of the accessories, including naturalistic-looking turquoise cuffs and jewel tone crystal earrings, Daniel Anesse, vice president marketing for Estée Lauder North America, said, “It’s going to enhance the style and fashion know-how that the brand has always had.”
Toward the back of the store is a skin care bar where customers can get mini-facials. On the lower level there is a full service spa, offering services ranging from the Stone Thermo Therapy Facial to the Body Performance Anti-Cellulite Treatment. There is one other Lauder store in the U.S., in Las Vegas. Industry sources expect the new store to pull in $2 million during its first year. When asked how many stores the company plans to design after this thoroughly modern mecca, Lauder temptingly said, “Stay tuned.”
Americana Manhasset has been for 47 years a proud member of the community, as well as Long Island’s premier upscale shopping destination for a well-heeled clientele. With an average household income above $150,000, the Americana customer is well aquainted with various charitable organizations and the idea of giving to those less fortunate.
Enter Champions for Charty®, which began in 1996. This annual holiday shopping benefit was designed to raise funds for not-for-profit organizations located on Long Island.
For five days, from December 3 through 7, 2003, shoppers could support these local charities by making purchases at participating Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza stores, thereby automatically donating 25 percent (of pre-tax purchases) to organizations of their choice. All that was necessary was to simply register by phone or on-line for a complimentary 2003 Champion card. When presented after making a purchase, a donation to the shopper’s pre-selected organization was complete. Simple, smart, effective!
Not to be left out, those shoppers holding Americana Manhasset gift cards were also able to make a 10 percent donation, while participating store gift certificates were eligible subject to individual store policy. As a nice bonus, all Champions for Charity® shoppers got the chance to win a not-too-shabby $2,000 gift card.
Americana Manhasset in New York and Bal Harbour Shops in South Florida set the bar for luxury shopping at the holidays and all year round.
‘Tis the season to be shopping, and if you’ve got champagne taste and a wallet to match, there’s no other place to go in South Florida than Bal Harbour Shops. For the well-heeled consumer of luxury goods and haute cuisine, this is not exactly hot news. The Bal Harbour Shops have been the shopping destination of choice for 38 years. What warrents attention at this point in the mall’s thriving life is that it has managed to continually maintain and even, arguably, heighten its own cachet over the years, through the ups and downs of this country’s long-turbulent economy.
Surprising? Maybe to you. But not to founder Stanley Whitman. “What makes Bal Harbour properous where other malls have failed can be summed up in two words: location and management,” he avers. “Our prime location draws high-end tourists as well as affluent local shoppers. Then you add to that the constant attention to detail of a family-owned and managed business where we are here on a daily basis and you have the secret of our success.” Whitman continues: “Bal Harbour Shops’ original feasability study was done by Larry Smith, who was of the opinion that we wouldn’t make it. His advice was to put apartment buildings on this high-priced property. When I bought the land in 1957, I paid $2 per square foot. That was 20 times what Dadeland paid. But you have to remember, we had nine oceanfront hotels across the street at that time, and Dadeland was out in the boonies. It was initially tagged ‘Deadland.’”
Smith turned out, of course, to be dead wrong. In fact, from the time it opened in 1965, Bal Harbour attracted wealthy travelers from South America and elsewhere who thought nothing of dropping upwards of $10,000 on a dress. Shoppers of that ilk chose carefully where to spend. “We get them, New York gets them, and Beverly Hills gets them,” Whitman says. “And that’s about all.”
Stanley Whitman planned it that way. From the beginning, he ensured the staying power of Bal Harbour’s popularity with the stylish set. He chose a style of architecture based not on trends, but on timelessness. The place looks as chic in 2004 as it did when it first went up, enhanced through the years with reflecting ponds and waterfalls and peppered with original works of art such as sculptures. From the start, Whitman got away with charging customers to park their cars, a practice that may have seemed unthinkable at the time but proved to be a smart way to bring in revenue and keep unauthorized vehices out.
The details that Whitman sweated over 38 years ago are tended to with the same scrutiny today. At 85, he continues to monitor every leaf of foliage on Bal Harbour’s grounds – along with every other aesthetic detail – on a daily basis, and remains steadfast when it comes to his tenants’ strict leasing requirements; if sales per square foot drop below $500, the tenant may find itself looking for a new home.
While plans for a third floor have been scrapped for now, Whitman continuously stays on the cutting edge of what’s hip. Just two years ago the first level underwent complete renovation, and in the past year Sergio Rossi, Guiseppe Zanotti, David Yurman and Chopard opened their doors. Renovations on the second level began recently; they include plans for public spaces with fountains, sculpture gardens and terrace seating.
As long as the Bal Harbour Shops remain under the aegis of the Whitman family, so it will go. There will be no brown leaves falling from the trees; no neon signs on the storefronts; no second or third locations diverting their attention from this beautiful jewel of affluence by the ocean. As Whitman said’ “I’m not that hungry. And I don’t enjoy riding around the country in an aeroplane.”
About 1,300 miles north of the subtropics, in an affluent little hamlet called Manhasset, a 220,000-square-foot open-air shopping center that, unlike the Bal Harbour Shops, began as a strip shopping center housing a supermarkert, a drugstore, a movie theater, department store and a sprinkling of small tenants. When in 1971 the department store B. Altman became an anchor store, a shift toward fashion and style began.
Today, Americana Manhasset is completely free of department stores and comprises only chic, street-level designer boutiques nestled amid tableaux of lush landscaping. The architecture, crafted by uber-designer Peter Marino, and the landscaping, which was done by Oehme van Sweden, are as much a draw to Americana Manhasset as the luxurious goods and the stores that offer them. “The goal has been to bring the luxury urban shopping exerience, both in architecture and merchandise, to a suburban setting,” says Deirdre Costa Major, creative director of Americana Manhasset and senior vice president of Castagna Realty Co.
The mall’s owner, Frank Castagna – the son of original developer Ferdinand Castagna – decided back in the 1980s that the community would welcome an upgrade in the shops, hired Marino, and went about the redux that in the ’90s would attract the likes of cachet brands such as Prada, Armani, Burberry, Chanel and Hermes.
Like Whitman at Bal Harbour, Castagna’s quest to maintain the lofty standards he’s set is an ongoing one. Last fall, the shopping center’s east end, a large section of which was demolished and rebuilt, reopened with an assemblage of new stores – Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior, St. John, Coach, Brooks Brothers and the first free-standing Ellen Tracy in the U.S. – that, the New York Times wrote, “rivals that of Rodeo Drive.”
With the current economy forcing retailers to sharpen their focus, those who survive and thrive are those that have never lost focus and that consistently offer superior-quality merchandise not available everywhere else. Most of the designer shops at Americana Manhasset are the only ones of their kind in the area – and more keep coming. “The evolution at Americana Manhasset will continue,” says Costa Major. “Many of the new stores that opened last year were expansions of existing luxury tenants that, due to their success here, had outgrown their current space. For example, Burberry will be moving and expanding into part of the current Brooks Brothers space in Spring 2004.” And of course, more store openings are on the agenda. As Castagna told the Times, “There’s always more to go.”
The 76-year-old, family-owned London Jewelers chain hasn’t lost its entrepreneurial spirit. The jeweler has begun opening boutiques under other brand names that will straddle its 3,500-square-foot store at the Americana Manhasset luxury shopping center. On Dec. 10, London Jewelers opened a 1,400-square-foot Cartier boutique. A 700 square-foot Van Cleef & Arpels store is expected to open by the end of this week, and a 900-square-foot David Yurman in store shop is expected to be operating in February. In addition, London Jewelers is adding a high-end watch salon to the main store that same month.
It’s a strategy of “partnerships” that Mark and Candy Udell, owners of the five-unit London Jewelers, believe could take them outside the Americana with more stores, though on a restricted basis.
“I’m not sure if I would do this again in locations where I have stores, but it could be an interesting model for other locations,” said chief executive officer Mark Udell, whose grandfather started the business in 1926, initially repairing clocks owned by wealthy families, such as the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys, or those in town squares.
“The North Shore [of Long Island] would be too close [to the Americana]. We will keep our eyes open and if there is another location that I feel could work, I wouldn’t count it out. We have to control it because we’ve got to be careful of creating the perception of being too big and losing the perception of what we are all about. Lately, with all the graphics and barricades that had covered the Cartier space and currently where Van Cleef & Arpels and David Yurman are locating, customers were concerned. They felt terrible that all these stores were moving next door. Then we told them, ‘It’s really us.’”
London Jewelers also operates stores in Greenvale and Glen Cove on northern Long Island, as well as in Southampton and East Hampton, and has just over 100 employees.
“The Udells are successful in all their stores,” said Frank Castagna, chairman of Castagna Realty and developer of the Americana. “This is a family that for four generations has been very devoted to their business. Their secret is they work hard. They work seven days a week. They know the customers and we have confidence in them.”
That’s why when Louis Vuitton and St. John, which were on either side of London Jewelers, decided to relocate to the Americana’s new wing last August, Castagna decided to negotiate with the Udells on their expansion proposal.
Cartier has adopted this kind of retail partnership in a few other locations, including Vancouver, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. It’s not likely to be done on a wide scale because the capital structure is intense and there are not many top entrepreneurs experienced in luxury businesses around the country.
“We are very exclusive. We don’t want to open many doors,” explained Stanislas de Quercize, Cartier’s president and chief executive officer. “However, we need to build distribution on two legs — new retail distribution and wholesale distribution.”
London Jewelers was an appropriate partner, he noted, since it has already been an authorized dealer of certain Cartier products and because Americana Manhasset is one of the country’s most productive centers, with an affluent clientele.
With London Jewelers, he said, “We share all the investment and the profits in the partnership.” At the Americana, Cartier’s New Decor interior design has made its U.S. debut. It has a warmer flavor and seems bathed in an aristocratic ambience, with a black marble and bronze facade reinterpreting Cartier’s store on rue de la Paix in Paris, and bronze parquet floor and taupe draperies. The look is present in some Cartier flagships in Europe.
For the Udells, adding Cartier and the other brands poses new challenges for a business that is already complicated. Jewelry stores are service-intensive, considering the repairs and detailed product knowledge that are required, schmoozing with customers is mandatory, and there is an extensive assortment of intricate, expensive stockkeeping units from such luxury labels as Mont Blanc, Harry Winston, Bulgari, Michael Beaudry, Franck Muller, Mikimoto, Chopard and Rolex. There are about 30 brands of watches and an equal number of jewelry brands sold in the store. Giftware is also carried, including products from Steuben, Lalique, Fabergé, Baccarat and McKenzie Childs.
At the new Cartier store, there’s a broad selection of jewelry, classic timepieces, leather goods, writing instruments, scarves and stationery.
“It is a very difficult business,” acknowledged Mark Udell. “There is a lot of personal service, but we still have a grip on it. The key thing in this type of business is relationships with the brands — that we have the respect of the brands. It’s also knowing who your customers are and knowing how to make customers feel good about the purchases they make because these are special purchases.
“This is in the genes. You can’t teach this. The secret in running a family business is that there has to be tremendous respect for each member of the family. It’s possible I won’t agree with my wife on everything. We disagree sometimes on certain lines. But when it comes to merchandise, she wins almost every time. She has that flare.”
Candy, who serves as president, quipped, “My philosophy is ‘go, go, go.’ I spend the money.”
Americana Manhasset gives Madison Avenue a run for its money.
It’s been called many things – the Madison Avenue of Manhasset, a mini Rodeo Drive and a “shopping experience.” The word “mall,” however, is verboten, both by those in charge and by those in the know. The crafty wordplay might seem contrived, but after spending a short time at Americana Manhasset, the M word does catch in one’s throat. After all, how many malls does LVMH president Bernard Arnault grace with a visit, as he did the Americana one early crisp October morning? (Not to be outdone, Gucci’s Domenico de Sole is expected to schedule a visit shortly.) And who would consider Payard Patisserie the equivalent of a food court?
With the Americana’s recent expansion, it gained not only square footage but also skyward luxury quotient. While the center was already home to designer names such as Prada, Fendi and Giorgio Armani, the addition of full-scale boutiques for Dior, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton makes comparisons with Manhattan and Beverly Hills a bit more defined. With new stores from Coach, St. John and Brooks Brothers on its southern face, the latest section packs a hefty shopping punch in a spot that only months ago housed a Waldbaum’s grocery store.
Of course, in 1956, when the Americana made its debut on Long Island, the supermarket fit perfectly within a mix of midlevel retailers and service-oriented businesses – a movie theater, a drugstore. (One long-time client and resident of the area recalled at Louis Vuitton’s opening party, “I tooks my driver’s ed classes here.”)
The center was developed by Frank Castagna, who had just joined the family business Castagna & Son, then a general contracting firm. From the start, Castagna, then 28, envisioned the project as an upscale shopping center. Nut the process wasn’t quick or easy. “It was the early stages of all shopping centers,” he explains. “The mix was eclectic because we didn’t know any better. At a certain point we realized that the way to compete effectly was by being very good in a certain area. We chose apparel, which includes jewelry, shoes, etc.” Hirshleifer’s department store, which opened in the Americana in 1960, acted as a sort of upscale beacon. And over time, Castagna managed to add Brooks Brothers and Ann Taylor.
In the early Eighties, Castagna decided to redesign the center to make it attractive to more top-tier luxury houses. When he asked architect Peter Marino in 1980 to conceptualize his dream, Marino, who is responsible for much of the world’s high-end retail architecture, hesitated, saying that he didn’t do shopping centers. Castagna persisted and ultimately succeeded in snagging Marino for team Americana. Fast-forward twenty years and the architect is one of the center’s most vocal cheerleaders. “We alwys say it has to be a completely valid alternative to sopping in the city,” he says. “We have a customer who flies in from Mexico nd says, ‘I’m not shopping in New York. To get to the 30 stores you have at the Americana, it would take four days. I can drive to the Americana at 10am, do the 30 stores in a day and be in New York for a show by 6pm.’ Tat’s what they like about it.”
Since the September 4 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the addition, the new stores have hosted their own opening events – most incorporating two favorite local activities: philanthropy and, of course, shopping. But while good work makes these customers happy, good fashion is what really gets them going. At Dior’s luncheon and runway show to benefit the North Shore – Long Island Jewish Partners Council for Women’s Health, the guest speaker cut herself short, since the crowd’s attention was diverted by the mozzarella, portobello and tomato salads and chatting with friends. But as the first strains of a hip-hop soundtrack shook the massive white tent and the models trotted out, it was clear from the swiveling heads and keen eyes that followed each look that these ladies were here for the clothes. Post-show, racks of resort looks were wheeled to the store, and the buying began. And since 10 percent of the proceeds went to charity, expenditures were happily guilt-free. At Louis Vuitton’s cocktail party a couple of weeks later on a balmy Friday night, the airy store’s 60-foot-long bag counter was as packed as any bar. As the evening went on, many guests sported telltale brown shopping bags. “We can’t hae the ladies in the stores and not have the registers open,” noted Americana’s director of branding and communications, Andrea Sanders.
While many will cite figures for Long Island’s aptly named Gold Coast – average household income, $155,000, and median home value, $1.25 million – the Americana can chalk up its success to factors that aren’t a part of any marketing report. “You go into the stores and they know you,” remarks Stella Spanakos, a guest at the Louis Vuitton party. “It’s amazing that they can maintain that level of community.”
Linda Morris, a client since 1982, says, “I’m there at least three or four times a week. I go on my way home from work when I need to unwind. It’s just such a pretty place.” And her personal shopper at Hirshleifer’s not only keeps Morris’s wardrobe organized but has even shown up at her house with chicken soup when Morris was ill. “It’s true that Madison Avenue does have an awful lot, but it’s an enormous street from one end to the next. And there’s a snobby atmosphere,” says one woman, a fan of Salvatore Ferragamo, Barneys, Escada and Ralph Lauren (“for her grandchildren”). “I go into the city maybe four times a week for charity meetings, but I don’t want to waste time shopping there – I’d rather go to the museums.”
Clients appreciate that the Americana plays to local psyches. “I love that they’re really geared toward Long Island and our issues,” Jackie Rogoff, a 15-year client, says. “People here are really socccer moms. That’s why things like Lucien [Pellat-Finet] work really well. People but those gorgeous sweaters because they’re casual. And then we have to go to all thse fund-raisers, so you need your gowns and all that.” One of Rogoff’s favorite stops is Hirshleifer’s. For her, a major draw is the fact that Lori Hirshleifer Sills, who with her mother, Lillian, handles the buying, knows her personally. “I might have a personal shopper at a store in the city, but she’s not the buyer who oders a piece saying, ‘oh my God. That’s perfect for Jackie,’” Rogoff explains.
Hirshleifer’s has long offered its clients a chic range of tony labels, and it features in-stores boutiques for Tod’s and Wallach Jewelers. The moves by Gucci and Dior into their own shops left voids that needed to be filled, and the Hirshleifer family acted quickly, adding a plush Jimmy Choo salon and a boutique for furrier J. Mendel, as well as arranging for the construction of a new Chanel boutique, now under way. With six Hirshelfiers on staff, the store remains very much a family affair, one quite happy to be part of the larger Americana family, headed by Castagna.
“He’s a wonderful man. [The Castagnas] are the most philanthropic family on Long Island,” says owner Paul Hirshleifer, citing the center’s much admired Champions for Charity program, a five-day affair in the midst of holiday shopping that gives customers the option of directing a whopping 25 percent of the money they spend to various charities. Ten percent comes from the stores and Castagna provides the remaining 15. Customers who register their details are then issued a Champion Card to be swiped at the time of purchase, keeping all donation information discreet.
Of course, there’s nothing discreet about the Americana’s appeal to its tenants. When Donna Karan opened her first store in 1998, it was at the Americana, not in the city. And although Louis Vuitton has only 10 stores worldwide that carry its full collection, the company chose to expand its Americana location, despite the proximity of two other stores already in Manhattan. “The Manhasset clientele has a strong appreciation for luxury goods,” says Brigid Andrews, Louis Vuitton’s director of regional sales. “They’re style watchers and are very often among the first to want the best of each season’s collection.” Despite its two Manhattan outposts, Yves Saint Laurent also eagerly anticipates adding another at the center. “There’s a proven customer who lives there and likes to shop there and doesn’t necessarily shop in the city,” explains Lark Lee, president and CEO of YSL. “We thought it was important to be a part of it.” As evidence, the new store has had a hard time keeping the season’s hot accessory, the leather Nadia bag, in stock, and the waiting list for the Jewel-toned green velvet jacket worn by Demi Moore at the premiere of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is nearly 20 names long.
When London Jewelers, a family-owned, longtime tenant, wanted to increase its stock of Cartier, the retailer secured the rights to operate a franchise – the only one of its kind in the country. “It’s an honor,” says Candy Udell, who owns the store with her husband, Mark. “But I think they knew we would run it up to their standards.” The Udells will soon add boutiques for David Yurman and Van Cleef & Arpels, due to open before holiday shopping gets under way, and are in the process of expanding their general space to add a high-end watch salon. Like the Hirshleifers, the Udells have only glowing words for Castagna. “Mark and I call Frank our little angel,” Candy Udell says. “and his vision has just been incredible. You could probably take his center and do a Harvard case study on it.”
But the Americana’s upgrade is a constant process. The much-loved landscaping, designed by D.C. firm Oehme, Van Sweden, gets a facelift four times a year so that it changes along witht he fashion seasons. And new tenants will continue to move into the spavces vacated by those who have relocated to larger digs. The first to sign on: Lacoste and Paris shirt designer Anne Fontaine.
Even as Castagna acknowledges Manhattan as his biggest competitor, he has obviously discovered a formula that trumps city shopping by appealing to his customers’ sense of aesthetics and community, and even their hearts. An older customer heavily involved in local charities says, “Sometimes I’m in Florida at Bal Harbour and I see something; I’ll call here to see if they have it. [Castagna] is so good to the charities in our area that I don’t even want to give my business to anyone else.”
The Sept. 3 debut of the Americana at Manhasset expansion felt more like a family reunion than a grand reopening. Those attending the brief festivities at the upscale Long Island shopping center included its developer, senior executives of major fashion houses, county officials, favorite customers and the architect for whom the expansion represented a long-cherished dream come true.
His dream? “What I wanted to do was get rid of the Waldbaums,” said Peter Marino, principal of New York City-based Peter Marino and Associates, in an interview with SCT. The longtime tenant simply didn’t belong in a center filled with luxury retailers whose sales exceed $1,000 per square foot, he added. “People would ask, ‘What is this thing?’ It just didn’t work.”
The supermarket’s lease finally expired, paving the way for the latest phase of a redevelopment Marino first designed almost 20 years ago.
Although Waldbaums no longer suited the Americana’s profile, a grocery store had anchored the center since 1956, when it opened on the corner of Northern Boulevard and Searingtown Road. In those days, the Americana served a middle-class suburbia with moderately priced stores. Within a few decades, however, the increasing affluence of its Nassau County market (SCT, December 2002), where household incomes routinely top $100,000, presented an opportunity for the project’s reinvention.
In 1985 Frank Castagna, chairman of Garden City-based Castagna Realty Co. – which has owned and operated the Americana since acquiring the property for it in 1955 – approached Marino about creating a master redevelopment plan. The Americana was still a neighborhood center back then. Marino, who is best known for designing high-end designer boutiques, replied, “I don’t do shopping centers,” Castagna recalled during the reopening ceremonies. (Marino corrected the account: “I don’t do suburban shopping centers,” he said.)
“I responded that I’m not asking you to do a shopping center,” Castagna told the gathered guests, “but to redefine the Americana and plan our future. Some months later he stunned me with the vision of what the Americana could be. The vision from 18 years ago is substantially what you see here today.”
Over the years, the project has unfolded in phases into a 220,000-square-foot shopping street of glass, limestone and granite, lined with tenants to rival the finest in he world: Coach, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, St. John and Yves Saint Laurent. It has become a regional landmark, Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi told SCT, as well as a tourist destination in its own right and an anchor to what is called the Miracle Mile, a stretch of high-end retailing.
“It’s a shopping center, but so much more,” Suozzi said.
The Americana’s most recent expansion, begun last year, added 40,000 square feet. Razing the 29,000-square-foot Waldbaums helped make way for new shops, including Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo. It also allowed existing retailers to relocate to larger units where they can display their full collections. Louis Vuitton, for example, moved from a 1,200-square-foot store featuring primarily its leather goods to a 5,500-square-foot unit that has room to offer its ready-to-wear and fine jewelry lines. For the retailer, it represented a vital move in an important market.
“We’ve always had a tremendously loyal following on Long Island,” Lisa Capozzi, Vuitton’s vice president of sales and forecasting for North America, told SCT. “The response has been fantastic, with sales terrific across all categories.”
The Americana still isn’t finished, despite the grand reopening. Additional boutiques were set to open in November, and Burberry will relocate to a larger unit in February.
The project clearly has a special place in Castagna’s heart. In the 18 years since initiating its transformation into a high-end shopping destination, he has not built another shopping center to rival the Americana, preferring to focus instead on its continual improvement. (The rest of Castagna’s portfolio comprises office and residential properties and one other retail center built in 1980.)
“All of the ingredients came together here,” he said.
And Marino has never designed another shopping center either, despite repeated requests. “I have the Americana,” he said. “I have the best client and won’t work for anyone else.”
Madison Avenue meets Rodeo Drive with the big-tme expansion of Americana Manhasset. The east end of the chic shopping center (Armani, Donna Karan, Barneys and more have been there for years) has undergone a mega-transformation, taking over Waldbaum’s former space. Now a very haute haunt, it features additional luxury names such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Dior. Plus, several stores have expanded, among them Louis Vuitton, St. John, Coach and Brooks Brothers. On the west side of the center, the first free-standing Ellen Tracy store will debut shortly. And to add to the glitz, in November a Cartier boutique will open as part of a licensing agreement with London Jewelers. Shopers already are swooning at the new Gucci store, where serene gray carpeting, pebbled limestone floors and chrome fixtures set the stage for a massive selection of bags, boots and clothing. As Yves Saint Laurent, three small salons offer the season’s best looks. Bottega Veneta’s new industrial digs show off the brands fabulous leather goods and a very small presentation of clothes. The mood at Dior is cheerful, as bright lights and whimsical displays of bags and sunglasses beckon.
Brooks Brothers is one of the stars of the expanded shopping center. The new space is a double-decker deal, wih men’s furnishings and women’s clothing on the first floor, and men’s suits, sportswear and slacks on top in a smashing, sunlit space. Knockout too, is the new Vuitton store, a striking glass box supported by limestone walls. Beneath the soaring ceiling, fans will find a 60-foot-long counter of bags alone – on a recent visit it was three-deep with customers – and everything from watches and jewelry to luggage and clothing. With luck, you may even be able to pick up a Deauville bag (that’s one of the items J. Lo’s been hawking in her ads for the company). It will run you $835, and you may have to get on a short waiting list. But that shouldn’t be a problem at the Americana. You can just shop while you pass the time.
The plums on the shelves at the eastern end of Americana Manhasset are Gucci pocketbooks. Next door, some fine peaches can be found among Louis Vuitton’s leather luggage. Around the corner at St. John, pricey knit suits have replaced prime beef.
The posh boutiques, which officially opened on Sept. 3, replacing a Waldbaum’s in the Americana Manhasset shopping center, are part of the continuing metamorphosis of this 225,000-square-foot stretch of shops along Northern Boulevard that rivals Worth Avenue in Palm Beach or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Nancy DeMatteis and Carol Wolowitz, grandmothers and friends from Manhasset who call themselves ”black-belt shoppers,” don’t miss the sales on bananas or the double-coupon specials.
”At our age we really don’t supermarket shop,” said Ms. DeMatteis, who like Ms. Wolowitz is part of the luxury pack who frequent the high-end apparel, jewelry and gift boutiques during breaks from schedules packed with golf and volunteer work and charity events. ”We’re lunch people. We’re dinner people. It’s more important to have the elegance and completion of this area.”
Ms. Wolowitz said she had frequented this stretch of the Gold Coast’s ”miracle mile” for more than 40 years. ”We don’t have to go to Madison Avenue or Worth Avenue or Rodeo Drive,” she said. ”We have it all here.”
From silk-screened Hermès scarves and Dior gowns to the emerald green velvet Yves Saint Laurent runway jackets that are selling like hotcakes at $1,595 a pop at its wickedly glamorous new boutique, the scent of money at the Americana is as voluptuous as the flowers along its landscaped walkways.
While chains like Talbot’s and Banana Republic still have space, and the first freestanding Ellen Tracy shop in the nation is moving in this month back to back with Dana Buchman, the latest and most extensive renovation of the shopping center in its nearly 50-year history is devoted almost exclusively to brands that target the rich.
Which was exactly the evolution Frank Castagna, the owner and developer, had in mind when he asked the architect Peter Marino 18 years ago to refine and develop a master plan for the double-sided strip mall.
”I don’t do shopping centers,” Mr. Marino recalled responding. But Mr. Castagna wanted the shopping center, which once had a Baker’s Shoes, a Swenson’s ice cream parlor and a movie theater, to be a premier shopping destination, not a mall. Mr. Marino, a designer known for creating Barneys New York, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior boutiques, accepted the challenge.
”There’s Madison Avenue,” Mr. Marino said. ”There’s Avenue Montaigne in Paris and then there’s Manhasset. What we have created is really on an international scale.”
Mr. Marino said the shopping destination was anything but another Long Island strip mall.
”We never call this a suburban shopping center,” Mr. Marino said, as valets parked a steady stream of Lexuses, Mercedeses and Range Rovers, the rooftops of oversized but decidedly suburban homes visible across the road, nary a skyscraper or apartment building in sight. ”I call this my semi-urban street of shops.”
”Suburb sort of implies overweight people in sandals,” Mr. Marino told a slightly pudgy reporter who had worn sandals instead of Manolo Blahniks. ”This is not sub-urban. It’s not inferior to urban in any way.”
Marla Sabo, president of Christian Dior Couture, journeyed from Manhattan for the opening celebration. She declared the shopping center ”so sophisticated.”
”The assortment that’s here is the same that it is in Paris,” Ms. Sabo gushed, posturing for photographs with Mr. Marino.
Since the freestanding Dior boutique opened on Aug. 7, Ms. Sabo said, fashion-savvy North Shore shoppers knew precisely what to clamor for.
”Our hardcore bag, the bag I am carrying, sold out immediately,” Ms. Sabo said, showing off her black $1,280 pocketbook. Her Manhasset customers included ”young girls who will pick out costume jewelry and society who will come for an event and pick up a gown and a fur,” Ms. Sabo said.
At Louis Vuitton, demand for the multicolor monogram collection of handbags and accessories was feverish. Customers were putting their names on a waiting list based on photographs, said Karen L. Loeffler, the Americana’s fashion director, with no guarantee of getting the merchandise by the time the limited edition goes out of production next year. Price tag? If you have to ask, better stick to window shopping.
Mr. Castagna said the 40,000-square-foot renovation was a milestone in the center’s evolution.
”We are patterned after Madison Avenue in terms of the collection of stores, ”Mr. Castagna said. ”But we also have the advantage that we have them all consolidated within five minutes’ walking distance from one end to the other and convenient parking to all the stores.”
But the Americana’s world-class assortment of shop is far from complete. Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels and David Yurman boutiques will open in London Jewelers in November. Burberry is expanding to larger quarters in February. Hirshleifer’s, one of the center’s few remaining original specialty shops, will be expanding with Jimmy Choo and J. Mendel boutiques next year.
”There is always more to go,” Mr. Castagna said.
After the ribbon cutting, Ms. Wolowitz and Ms. DeMatteis had some shopping to do.
”First we are going to pop in at Gucci and then we are having lunch at Payard,” Ms. Wolowitz said.
MANHASSET, N.Y. – Americana Manhasset, a premier shopping destination just 12 miles from Manhattan, last week debuted a 40,000-square-foot designer wing on the east end.
Designed by Peter Marino, the addition drew a crowd of 400, including executives and retail managers from designer brands operating stores in the center, as well as local politicians and shoppers.
“Peter’s vision imagined 18 years ago substantially is what you see here today,” said Frank Castagna, chairman of Castagna Realty and developer of the property. The wing, with its limestone, granite and glass facades, provides a look truer to Madison Avenue than to anything on the suburban retail landscape. It’s also the single largest change in the history of Americana Manhasset. The wing houses Christian Dior, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Gucci on the north side, and Coach, St. John and Brooks Brothers on the south side.
“This is something that uplifts us all. It’s a great gift,” said Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.
Attending the festivities were Burberry USA president Eugenia Ulasewicz; Brooks Brothers chairman Claudio Del Vecchio and COO Mark Shulman; and Marla Sabo, president of Christian Dior USA.
The wing might be the crowning touch, bringing the Americana to 220,000 square feet, but there’s more to come. This month the first Ellen Tracy store opens in the center. Later this fall, London Jewelers will open Cartier, David Yurman and Van Cleef & Arpels shops, and Burberry plans to move into a larger space. Also, Millie’s restaurant will renovate, and in 2006 the Americana Manhasset will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The year after, Castagna Realty celebrates 85 years in business. “The evolution of Americana Manhasset will continue,” Castagna said.
Dispensing with their traditional anchors, two longtime shopping centers in wealthy areas of Nassau County are finding room for more high-end stores by subdividing space that had formerly been occupied by supermarkets.
While traditional shopping centers depend on anchor stores to bring in customers, upscale centers like the Americana Manhasset and Woodbury Village do not, retailing experts say.
”Does Rodeo Drive need a supermarket?” asked Alvin J. Rosenstein, a marketing and business professor at Adelphi University in Garden City. ”In effect, these upscale centers are upscale department stores with an upscale selection.” Dr. Rosenstein is a consumer psychologist and a retail consultant whose clients have included J. C. Penney, General Foods and the New York Stock Exchange.
”Shoppers want convenience and if they want upscale convenience, it’s a waste of time putting in something that is not upscale,” he said.
”There’s a synergy here” for shopping center managers, he added. ”The more upscale brands they bring in, the better positioning they acquire as an ultimate resource for the upscale shopper seeking a broad selection of prestigious brands.”
Marshall Felenstein, president of the retail consulting firm Felenstein, Was & Associates in Manhattan, said, ”While the Woodbury center is not as unique as Americana, which is so upscale that in order to compete you’d have to come to Manhattan, I think both shopping centers will be very successful because they are enhancing their critical mass for their day-to-day customers.”
In Manhasset the 47-year-old Americana Manhasset shopping center has redivided a 40,000-square-foot space that had included a Waldbaum’s supermarket and six adjacent stores into nine stores occupied by such high-end international retailers as Gucci, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. The new stores opened last week.
Manhasset and its surrounding communities, including Sands Point, Old Brookville, Munsey Park, Plandome and Old Westbury, were listed last year by Worth magazine as among the 250 richest communities in America. The annual average household income of the Americana customer is above $150,000, according to Deirdre Costa Major, the creative director.
The 220,000-square-foot center was developed in 1956 by Castagna Realty on a 16-acre parcel along Northern Boulevard, a major North Shore road. There are 45 stores in the center, which had always had a supermarket as an anchor on its eastern end.
Americana was originally named Fifth Avenue of Long Island by Frank Castagna, an owner. Castagna Realty began in 1922 as a construction company and built a number of notable Long Island buildings, including the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the University Hospital at Stony Brook.
The plan for high-end leases at the original Manhasset center ”didn’t go through,” Ms. Major said, ”so at that time we did the best we could to fill it up, and we had two supermarkets.” In 1983 the first upscale store, Brooks Brothers, came in and then the Armani line was added to Hirshleifer’s, which carries designer women’s clothing.
The architect Peter Marino of Manhattan, who designed Barneys New York on Madison Avenue, was brought in ”to create a concept for the sophisticated and affluent area,” she said. One store at a time, the old facades were removed and new limestone buildings with a town house effect and granite sidewalks were created.
Three years ago, the lease expired for the 29,000-square-foot anchor space occupied by Waldbaum’s supermarket since 1959. Last year, the store was demolished and construction began on the new building.
Tenants include the 185-year-old Brooks Brothers, which is moving from a 10,000-square-foot store to a two-level 13,000-square-foot space.
St. John and Louis Vuitton are relocating from a 7,125-square-foot space farther west in the center that is being subdivided into four spaces designed especially for high-end jewelry tenants. Cartier will occupy 1,400 square feet; Van Cleef & Arpels, 500 square feet; and London Jewelers, a 77-year-old Long Island firm that has five stores in upscale communities, including the Hamptons, will occupy 4,275 square feet. Negotiations are pending with a fourth jeweler for the remaining 950 square feet.
Those stores are expected to be completed before Christmas, according to Andras Frankel, the owner of the Manhattan-based IBEX Construction, which is building the new spaces.
In Manhattan, IBEX recently completed a three-story, 21,000-square-foot clothing story, Façonnable, at Rockefeller Center and is constructing six stores in the AOL Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle. ”What is being done in Manhasset is not any less than the high-ends on Madison Avenue,” Mr. Frankel said.
Twelve miles east at Woodbury Village, the Hauppauge-based Staller Associates, the owner, is subdividing a 31,000-square-foot store into about 10 boutique-type shops. The space had been occupied by a supermarket since the center opened as an enclosed mall with 10 stores in 1977, according to Cary F. Staller, a principal with his father, Erwin P. Staller. The firm manages and owns, through various partnerships, 50 shopping centers on Long Island.
Six years ago, with the exception of the supermarket, the mall was rebuilt and expanded into a 100,000-square-foot, L-shaped open strip of 30 shops and restaurants; about 75 percent are Long Island-based retailers with high-quality goods, Cary Staller said. The rest are national specialty chains, like Arizona-based Cold Stone Creamery, which sells custom-mixed homemade ice cream. Eight of the stores are on Jericho Turnpike, another of the North Shore’s main roads. The remaining are on South Woods Road fronting the rolling hills of the Town of Oyster Bay golf course.
The new center was designed by the architect John Notaro of the Melville-based Notaro Grupp with a colonial theme modeled after a 20,000-square-foot center that Staller also owns in the historic Bellport village on the south shore.
About 20 percent of the $15 million project was spent on the facade and its details, Mr. Staller said. ”We needed to create an upscale look, and so it wouldn’t look so massive, we broke it up with dormers, pillars and brick trim,” he said.
Three months ago, Stop & Shop supermarket closed its doors at the center with one year left on its lease. Last month, Staller acquired the lease, ”so we could control the direction of the shopping center and bring in a new mix, with no chance of getting an incompatible tenant,” Mr. Staller said.
Construction is to begin soon on the subdivision, creating eight to 10 stores of 1,500 to 7,500 square feet, he said. The center’s annual rents are $36 to $40 per square foot, not including taxes or utilities.
”It is our vision to continue to bring in leading Long Island merchants and some chains that are high-end,” Mr. Staller said. Despite today’s sluggish economy, the tenants have all been ”very successful, so there has to be a need for this type of center, especially in selected areas,” he said.
The average annual household income within a five-mile radius of the center is $120,000, according to San Diego-based Claritas Inc., a market research firm. Woodbury and its surrounding communities, including Oyster Bay Cove, Laurel Hollow and Muttontown, are also on Worth’s magazine’s list.
Dan Kulchinsky, an owner of the 48-year-old Mayfair Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, which handles couture jewelry, has four stores on Long Island. He said the demographics were right for a store at Woodbury. ”This is our client base,” Mr. Kulchinsky said. ”Many of them have homes in the Hamptons as well as here and shop in our two Hampton stores.”
Efrem Aaron, the owner of Efrem, which specializes in fine leather goods, had been in the 250-store Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City before moving into a 2,000-square-foot space at Woodbury Village. ”We are a high-end specialty store and many of our customers do not go to the mall,” Mr. Aaron said.
To highlight their centers, both developers have also focused on luxurious landscaping.
At Woodbury Village colorful perennials bloom beside clusters of swaying native grasses in a parklike setting created by the East Norwich-based Ireland Gannon Associates, a landscape firm.
At the Manhasset center, Oehme, van Sweden, landscape designers based in Washington, have created gardens with flowers, Ms. Major said, that ”change every season, like fashion.”
“It’s like when the U.S. added California as a state. This finishes our coast.”
That was Peter Marino, master planner for Americana Manhasset, assessing the new 40,000-square-foot designer wing on the east end of the shopping center here. It was officially launched Wednesday morning, with a crowd of 400, including executives and retail managers from designer brands operating stores in the center, models flaunting the labels, local politicians and shoppers attending the ribbon cutting.
“Peter’s vision imagined 18 years ago substantially is what you see here today,” said Frank Castagna, chairman of Castagna Realty and developer of the property. The wing, with its limestone, granite and glass facades, provides a look truer to Madisoon Avenue than to anything on the suburban retail landscape. It’s also the single largest change in the history of Americana Manhasset. The wing houses Christian Dior, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Gucci on the north side, and Coach, St. John and Brooks Brothers on the south side.
“This is somehting that uplifts us all. It’s a great gift,” said Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.
Shoppers with a taste for designer brands and opulent attire can head to Americana Manhasset for today’s unveiling of nine new “ultra luxury” stores. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent are among them.
Most of the stores have been open nearly a week, but today marks the official ceremony. Others slated for grand opening today: Bottega Veneta, Brooks Brothers, Christian Dior, Gucci, Saint John and Ellen Tracy. Except for Ellen Tracy, all of the stores are newely built pavilions. (Ellen Tracy is going into previously built space.) Award-winning fashion architect Peter Marino was hired to design the Dior and Vuitton boutiques.
Shoppers have a variety of high end items to choose from, but those searching for a red fox fur stole with satin ribbon by Yves Saint Laurent will be out of luck – at $1,898, it has already sold out, according to Karen Loeffler, fashion director for Americana Manhasset. More price conscious buyers may select from some signature items from Coach, beginning with a standard keychain starting at $26.
Loeffler described the new offerings as “global stores,” which means customers will have full access to the entire merchandise line. “That’s something that’s not so easy to do on Long Island,” she said.
What began as a day commemorating hard-pressed workers over a century ago, has become a full-weekend fete or final summer hurrah often designated for barbeques, parties, and finally, shopping. This Labor Day, surpass the legion of sales hounds by sniffing out the posh new boutiques debuting at Americana Manhasset on Monday, September 3. Currently Long Island’s choice shopping venue with more than 220,000 square feet of designer retailers from Fendi and Giorgio Armani to Ferragamo and Hermès, the sleek, street-level center is launching nine additional stores, each with a sophisticated redesign courtesy of renowned architect Peter Marino. A handful of the newest boutiques – namely Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Dior – will stock the racks with their entire global collections. Previous shopping outposts like Louis Vuitton and Coach, which have outgrown their original Americana spaces, will reappear on a grander scale in the expanded east section – what’s lauded as the latest and largest development in the ongoing evolution of Long Island’s most prestigious shopping destination. After all, whatever Labor Day means to you, it remains a national holiday, so spend away. Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset, 800.818.6767; or americanamanhasset.com. -J.G.
Manhasset – In a move to enhance its position as a premier high-end shopping destination, the Americana Manhasset is opening a renovated 40,000 square feet of space filled with some of the most famous names in fashion retailing.
The 220,000-square-foot shopping center, owned by Castagna Realty, recently completed the 18-month renovation on its east side. That includes the revamp of a 29,000-square-foot space that housed Waldbaum’s, a hold-over from the center’s days as a more conventional shopping center. Another 11,000 square feet also was renovated.
Architect Peter Marino, whose work includes Barneys New York on Madison Avenue, designed the new space in keeping with earlier designs he did for the shopping center.
Christian Dior last week opened its doors in the first trickle of what will be a new wave of fashion brands opening stores in the nearly 1,500-foot-long center sometimes known as “Miracle Mile” for its assemblage of high-end retailers.
Over the next two weeks, Bottega Veneta, Yves St. Laurent and Gucci are opening, and Louis Vuitton, St. John and Coach will be moving into larger spaces. Brooks Brothers plans to open in a bigger space by early September. Later that month, Ellen Tracy will open its first freestanding store on the west side of Americana Manhasset.
While Castagna didn’t give a cost for the revamp, the trade publication Women’s Wear Daily estimated such a project could cost between $30 million and $40 million.
Castagna Realty, which also owns Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, hopes to strengthen its reputation as a retail magnet that could compete with Manhattan.
“We attract a lot of New York City shoppers who enjoy the ambience and merchandise selection at Manhasset,” said Deirdre Costa Major, senior vice president at Castagna and creative director for the shopping center. “They can walk from shop to shop in the outdoor, street level, boutique environment and have an enjoyable, quality shopping experience.”
Castagna is bringing in the high-end brand wagon at a time when the economy is weak, but experts said Long Island has the wealth to support it.
“We have a very affluent population on Long Island. There is a fairly good market for upscale consumption,” said Pearl Kamer, economist for the Long Island Association. “They’re hoping to capitalize on that market. They have reason to believe those stores will do well.”
Nassau’s average per capita personal income as of 2001 was more than $47,000, Kamer noted. Castagna also is hoping to create a retail model that might be viewed as the next step in the evolution of the department store.
General merchandise stores, the category that includes department stores, have been losing jobs nationwide, Kamer said. Many are being undercut by Wal-Mart and Target, which offer a broad range of merchandise often at lower prices. But the Americana Manhasset is seeking to create a shopping center that groups together retailers with clout that collectively become a powerful draw even without an anchor tenant. “It’s the boutique model which upscale consumers seem to prefer,” Kamer said. “They like the personal service you get from small boutiques.”
The Americana Manhasset, which today offers services such as a free personal shopper, was created in 1956 when the property was purchased by Gerace & Castagna Inc., a masonry firm founded in 1922.
It started out as a neighborhood strip center with a supermarket, drugstore, movie theater, department store and other small tenants.
In 1971, B. Altman became an anchor, signaling the beginning of a shift toward fashion and lifestyle. By the 1980s, owner Frank Castagna, the son of original developer Ferdinand Castagna, embarked on a repositioning of the center.
Architect Peter Marino began a redesign, and by the late 1990s Prada, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Escada, Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan all opened stores.
Salvatore Ferragamo opened in August 2002, a month after Payard, a patisserie and bistro featuring contemporary French cuisine, opened.
To view this article as it appeared in WWD simply click here. New York – Counter-intuitive? Not so, according to the Americana Manhasset. Despite the soft economy, the shopping center’s current expansion is simply part of an ongoing strategy to pump up its luxury appeal.
The Long Island shopping center, a rarity on the suburban retail landscape with its high concentration of chic designer shops, urbane architecture and independent attitude, will extend its classic limestone facades and array of top European and American labels. Total space at the Americana Manhasset, after the project is completed this fall, will be 220,000 square feet.
While Americana Manhasset executives declined to discuss the cost of the project, real estate sources said an expansion would cost in the range of $30 million to $40 million.
“This is the single largest change that we’ve ever made at one time,” stated Frank Castagna, partner of Castagna Realty Co. Inc., developer of the center. “We’ve been planning on this for at least 10 to 12 years.”
During an exclusive interview about the long-awaited expansion, designated Section IV, Castagna explained that the 29,000-square-foot Waldbaum’s at the center’s eastern end always resisted vacating, even though from the center’s perspective it was practically an eyesore. The food retailer’s apples and oranges just didn’t match up with the silk-screened Hermès scarves.
But Waldbaum’s lease expired last year, the building was razed and another 11,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space was torn down, setting in motion a 40,000-square-foot expansion/renovation project. The objective is to create real upscale harmony and do what hardly any other shopping centers do – cast an image of elegance. For several designers already housed in the center, the expansion means relocating to larger shops, enabling them to show their collections the way they want to – in full. For example, Louis Vuitton will open a 5,000-square-foot “global” shop, while Brooks Brothers is taking a 12,750-square-foot, two-level space. St. John is moving to a 5,000-square-foot space, and Coach is taking 2,700 square feet.
Also, Gucci, which formerly had a small boutique inside the 8,100-square-foot Hirshleifer’s, the family-owned specialty store mainstay in the Americana that offers a variety of designer labels, is creating a 6,000-square-foot store of its own.
In a few other cases, the project provides space for newcomers, such as Yves Saint Laurent, which is creating a 2,400-square-foot-shop, and Bottega Veneta, which is building a 1,553-square-foot shop.
Filling in some of the space created by those moving into Section IV from elsewhere in the center, Christian Dior is planning to open a 2,700-square-foot shop in August, and Burberry plans to expand to 5,000 square feet from its current 2,900 square feet. The Burberry expansion should be ready to receive customers in late spring of 2004.
Recently, two other high-end businesses moved in near Section IV. Salvatore Ferragamo opened a 3,755-square-foot shop and a 2,700-square-foot Payard Patisserie & Bistro opened last June.
For the Americana Manhasset, Section IV is just the latest phase in what’s been an active process at the center of relocating tenants and finding new ones. There’s rarely a time when the center isn’t fully leased, and the designers, according to Castagna, sign 10- to 15-year leases. “Any top-flight tenant is not about to take a five-year lease,” he said.
Even though luxury sales have been on the soft side since before Sept.11, 2001, Americana Manhasset’s mission remains clear — to sharpen its luxe appeal and secure its unique positioning. It’s a privately owned property, covering 16 acres, and among the most productive shopping centers in the country, hitting $950 in sales per square foot last year, or $200 million in total sales, give or take $10 million in recent years.
The center anticipates sales per square foot rising to about $1,025 later this year or in 2004 after all of Section IV’s occupants are open. By comparison, mainstream malls and shopping centers average around $250 to $350 in sales per square foot, depending on the mix of stores and location.
Asked about the center’s recent performance, Castagna replied, “Business is good. We’ve been surprised. All the retailers saw the downturn coming before 9/11. However, the fact that we don’t depend on tourists is why we have stayed stable. We’ll follow a recession,” he acknowledged, though he added, “We just don’t go down into the pits. We enter the recession last — and we get out first.”
With all the consolidation and mergers occurring in the world of shopping centers, the Americana Manhasset, a prime property, could easily be sold. However, Castagna, who is a co-partner in the real estate company along with members of his family, said he has every intention of holding on to what he considers his crown jewel and a work always in progress. “We’re not for sale,” he said.
While he is very involved in finding new tenants, even traveling to Europe to learn about emerging brands and to attend fashion shows, John J. Gutleber serves as president and chief executive officer, making sure the Americana runs smoothly. Deirdre Costa Major serves as senior vice president and creative director, and Andrea Sanders is vice president and director of branding and communications.
When the Americana Manhasset debuted in October 1956, it was a typical strip center, with a drive-through bank, a Chinese restaurant and, overall, a lower grade of retail, with such tenants as Lerner’s and Bakers Shoes. Castagna Realty still has some conventional holdings, such as the moderate-priced, family-oriented Wheatley Plaza, in Greenvale, N.Y., and two residential developments, Rock Rim Pond in Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Brady Brook Falls in Pawling, N.Y. It also has commercial property in Garden City, N.Y.
However, Castagna has maintained a different vision for the Americana Manhasset for more than 20 years, evolving it into a rare breed in retailing that includes Bal Harbour Shops in Miami, The Atrium at Chestnut Hill near Boston, and Highland Park Village in Dallas. And Americana Manhasset occasionally gets compared to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., as well, which is also independently owned and, like the Americana, has a very hands-on owner/management, and an upscale lineup of designer shops. However, it’s a regional megamall, with multiple anchors and sections serving up different price points.
On the other hand, the smaller Americana Manhasset, a peanut in comparison to South Coast Plaza and other such regional centers, has intimacy, which few centers can boast, especially because there are no anchor department stores and it’s open-air. The result is often described as the Madison Avenue of suburbia. Moreover, the center is elegantly landscaped by the world-renowned landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden & Associates. Castagna says over $360,000 is spent annually on flowers alone, and more is spent on keeping up the ornamental grasses and perennials, creating a meadow around the center’s perimeter. Near the stores, there’s a more manicured look with ground covers and annuals.
The master plan was devised by store designer Peter Marino roughly two decades ago. His association with the Americana Manhasset has continued through the years, right up to the current expansion. Best known for creating retail spaces like Barneys New York on Madison Avenue, Marino was hardly gung ho to work for Castagna at first, and copped an attitude of his own. “Peter told me, “I don’t do shopping centers,” Castagna recalled.
However, Castagna, who is known for his patience and reserved, methodical manner, continued to pitch the Americana Manhasset and eroded Marino’s resistance. “Peter didn’t say a lot, but he was a good listener, and he finally agreed.”
With Marino’s master plan establishing a contemporary, clean look for the center, limitations have been put on such things as graphics and lighting, and Marino’s approval of everybody’s facade is required. “The tenants are happy to comply, but we would never do anything that would hurt their brands,” Castagna said. The restrictions are flexible enough so that designers can put their signature stamps on their stores and how they look, while there’s continuity in the architecture through the center. Louis Vuitton, for example, will be practically a glass box, yet it will have a limestone roof. Yves Saint Laurent will have a black frame broken up by limestone sections and big glass windows.
While the Americana lineup of 42 stores does include Gap and Talbots, these moderate, value-minded businesses are a small minority and getting smaller. There are also some tenants in the bridge and better-price point zones, such as Ann Taylor, Dana Buchman and Banana Republic, and Ellen Tracy will be moving in this year. Still, the lineup overall is 85 percent true designer, with such brands as Ralph Lauren, Fendi and Barneys New York, and the customer base truly has money. The center’s customer has an average household income of $155,000, and a median home value of $1.25 million.
But as Castagna sees it, it’s not the smell of wealth that makes the initial impression. It’s the smell of the flowers, which is perfectly fine by him.
“The first thing people say is, ‘Don’t you love the flowers?’” observed Castagna. “I think of flowers as fashion.”
The center is located along a 1,469-foot stretch at 2110 Northern Boulevard, by the intersection of Searingtown Road in monied Manhasset. Shoppers come primarily from several other wealthy Long Island towns, such as Great Neck, Sands Point, Roslyn, Brookville and Locust Valley, though the Americana Manhasset draws as far west as Manhattan, east to Oyster Bay in Nassau County, and north to south, from the Long Island Sound to Garden City.
Aside from a few designer shops situated on some of Long Island’s fancier main streets and a few situated in the Roosevelt Field Shopping Center in Garden City, the Americana Manhasset faces little competition. “Our strongest competitor is New York City,” Castagna said.
However, there could one day be stiffer competition, so Castagna feels there’s no better time than the present to strengthen the business. Taubman Centers, which has a portfolio of high-end malls, is seeking to build one in Oyster Bay on Long Island, where Neiman Marcus wants to open a store. But that project has for several years been stalled by politics and local opposition for traffic and environmental reasons. The situation is not about to be resolved soon, since Taubman is battling a takeover attempt by Simon Properties, the nation’s largest shopping center developer and operator.
While that situation may always be in the back of Castagna’s mind, he hasn’t let up on the remerchandising effort. It’s intensified since 1996, with, among other brands, Escada, Escada Sport, Prada, Max Mara, Emporio Armani, Wolford Hosiery, Rizzoli, London Jewelers and the nation’s first freestanding Estée Lauder Salon & Spa locating in the center since then.
Castagna and his team see the constant tweaking of Americana as similar to working over a very high-end department store. There are similarities, considering the limited amount of space that’s available to work with and the politics of dealing with the always-demanding designer crowd. As Castagna explained, it’s an ongoing, delicate process, involving renegotiating leases, and waiting for leases to expire.
“Section IV opens up a whole new avenue, a whole new perspective, but it doesn’t end here,” Castagna said. “We’re always anticipating changes as new trends and new designers arise.”
The remerchandising process, he said, is “like a perpetual chess game, of moving the pieces, but in some ways it’s simpler. That’s because we’ve become more focused.
Serious menswear is back with a vengeance. We went to three leaders in men’s suiting at Americana Manhasset – Barneys New York, Giorgio Armani, and Ralph Lauren – to get their take on what men actually want and need for fall. While there is no single trend, variations of styles offer something for everyone. Suiting is big, but every man has a casual side as well. All three stores offer full-service dressing to fill any lifestyle need, whether it’s a day in the conference room or a drive in the country.
Barneys New York
“The Manhasset customer is savvy,” says Barneys New York Store Manager, Ken Foret. “He spends time developing his wardrobe – looking for classic merchandise to enhance it, not recreate it.”
“Suiting has definitely increased this year,” says Foret. “Men never stopped wearing structured jackets, but now they want to get back into suits.” Barneys’ strength is in their variety of ready-to-wear suiting, from modern-classics like Hugo Boss, to classic-traditionals like Zegna, Canali and Hickey Freeman. This season’s take on traditional suiting is a three-button jacket with side vents and soft shoulders exemplified by Hickey Freeman’s Canterbury model, an English-inspired design. Pinstripes and window pane patterns are also prevalent with multiple colors within the fabric helping dictate which shirt and ties best accompany the suit. For example, Canali’s navy suit boasts gold pinstripes — a subtle change from traditional, classic white stripes.
This season, patterned dress shirts and ties help update a wardrobe. “Customers are into getting a great check shirt with a woven tie,” says Foret, who explains that it’s the fabric and construction of a tie that makes a great knot. “Matching checks with paisleys or a window pane sport coat with a graphic tie — that’s the fun part of it. If a customer is going to invest in a suit, we want to help them choose what best compliments it…it’s about the complete look.”
An advantage to shopping at Barneys is the ability to expand a wardrobe by mixing designers. Customers can pair a Hugo Boss sport coat with a Brioni tie. The same can be said for sportswear where Zegna gentleman’s jeans can be topped by Barneys New York’s merino wool polo. “We’re very serious about our sophisticated sportswear business,” says Foret. A suede shirt or an unconstructed jacket are strong in between pieces that function as work or casual wear. John Varvatos’ brown shearling jacket over his wool crew-neck reversible sweater lets a man be comfortable, yet sharp and confident.
“The Giorgio Armani man knows exactly what he wants,” says Giorgio Armani’s selling supervisor, Michael Oliva. “He is the elegant man on the street who is attentive to details and takes care of how he looks.”
In the past year, Armani suit sales have escalated. So much so, that they’ve reorganized the selling floor to make room for more suiting. (Even the three-piece suit has made an appearance!) “But men still want comfort and ease,” says Oliva. This season, Armani’s suits speak to that with soft, fluid shoulders and a “not-too-serious” look. The design is loose and deconstructed but it’s a slim, neat silhouette nonetheless, sitting perfectly on the shoulder and maintaining Armani’s always tailored fit. While the three-button suit is still the biggest seller, there is a new focus on one and two-button suits with narrow lapels. Offering an open, inviting look, this is a contrast to the high, buttoned-up suits of seasons past. Also answering mens’ desire for comfort, pleats are surfacing again, giving the flat-front pant some competition. What had been considered a traditional look is now also equated with an ease of movement.
Changes are also evident this season in Armani’s shirts and ties. The “monochromatic look” is giving way to striped patterns on both, complimenting the heavier, tweedy fabric seen in suits and sport jackets. As at Barneys New York, placing a patterned tie on a patterned shirt is one way for a man to keep his look current.
While cool blacks and greys are ever popular at Armani, rich earth tones appear everywhere in this collection, from chestnut slacks and beige dress shirts to caramel cashmere sweaters and putty corduroy shirt jackets.
While casual wear has always been about comfort, Giorgio Armani’s fall sportswear collection is also about being polished. According to Oliva, “Even when men dress down, they still pair a nice pair of slacks with a sport jacket.” In keeping with this refined attitude, knit tops are constructed short and somewhat tailored so they can be worn out for comfort yet still allow a man to look put together.
As always, Armani’s pieces are versatile, filling different needs for different men. For example, this season’s button-down cardigan may be worn by one man over a shirt and tie with slacks, and by another under a suede jacket with jeans. Spanning the generation gap, Giorgio Armani offers a classic look with an edge.
What does the Ralph Lauren customer appreciate? “The finest fabrics and attention to detail,” according to their corporate office. “The Polo Ralph Lauren male customer believes in his own individual style – he exudes a timeless quality and modern elegance.” Regarding the focus on serious suiting, Ralph Lauren’s customer “has a renewed desire to dress up with sophistication and confidence. The return to elegance this season is reflected in both our Purple Label and Polo Tailored clothing.”
Dark suits in solids and neat patterns such as pinstripes exemplify the Purple Label collection. Two and three-button styles are popular, with center or side vents and hacking pockets. The emphasis is on model treatment and luxurious fabric. The Polo Tailored collection includes fine worsted wool, year-round suits, as well flannel cashmere blends in solids and herringbones. Sport coats feature window pane and glen plaid patterns in muted olives, off-shade browns and greys with over-plaids. A favorite detail is the throat latch, which buttons up the collar. As for shirts and ties, patterns on patterns are evident, but classic solids are always in style and popular at Ralph Lauren.
Tailored sportswear, always a Ralph Lauren forte, is as strong as ever. Interesting details and fabrics in shirts, sweaters, and outerwear highlight this season’s collections. Purple Label offers an alternative to the solid sweater, with plaid and checked cashmere blends. A long leather coat with waist belt and hood is lined in mongolian shearling. Blue Label’s Connoisseur Group is filled with earth tones, as seen in the buffalo plaid shirt in lofty cashmere and yak hair with leather shank buttons. Men can feel comfortable and confident in Ralph Lauren’s new and modern take on timeless pieces.
Sep 12, 2002
‘New Suede Shoes: Italian Luxury Firm Salvatore Ferragamo Opens Its Doors at Americana Manhasset’
by Manhasset Press, Great Neck Record, Roslyn News
Salvatore Ferragamo, the leading Italian luxury fashion house, opened its doors on August 10th at Americana Manhasset. The 3,000 square foot space incorporates the new worldwide Ferragamo store design and showcases a complete collection of men’s and women’s shoes, silk and leather accessories, and ready-to-wear lines.
Ferragamo’s Fall/Winter collection is about timeless elegance, featuring clothes that make sense with flawless fit and natural attitude. Leather, suede and fine detailing play a major role in both women’s ready-to-wear and accessories.
Attention to color and detail is seen in this season’s luxurious coats. The essential “Double” trapeze coat features leather stitching or grosgrain insets, and fur lines the short and long, slim ponchos which are shown in super-light wool with hoods or self scarves. Silk twill in the “Borneo” print makes its lining debut inside quilted nappa leather jackets and new suede ponchos. Cropped bombers and zip cardigans in the softest suede are the choice for casual outerwear.
Neckwear features new exclusive foulard prints, figurative flowers, fruits and stylized jungle prints…all in silk twill, chiffon and georgette, for a warm, autumnal feel. Elegant cashmere wraps appear in pastel with grosgrain trimmings, while iridescent silk taffeta stoles with embroidered motifs set a shimmery tone for evening.
In focus this season is the “Salvatore” bag in black nylon or espresso haircalf, adapted from the original model that Salvatore Ferragamo himself used to travel with. Other daytime shoes and bags range from the soft urban chic of the organic shaped “Hobo” bag and booties, to polished calf shoes with lacing details and double-handle satchel bags with giant Gancio closures. Ferragamo’s patchwork theme is reinterpreted in shoes and bags in monochrome shades of suede. For evening, black is back in mule stilettos, strappy sandals with diamond cut heels, and the Cage heel for an updated classic.
Menswear features soft greys and sharp blues for shirts and knits. Casual outerwear reflects warmer tones in quilted browns and greens with red silky linings seen in suede and knit zipper jackets and chunky, tweedy sweaters. Weekend wear includes a selection of elegant, yet casual, leather blazers and jackets. Unique weekend accessories include waterproof bags, sailing glasses and an ultra light and soft poncho scarfcoat.
As with this season’s collections, Ferragamo’s new store design reflects the luxury, quality and innovation that define the House. As a result, the store projects a contemporary and chic informality that is highlighted with warmth and openness.
Like all Ferragamo products, great attention has been paid to the materials and design, combining the highly innovative with the quality of tradition. Materials, colors and light interplay to bring focus to the products. Natural walnut and stone contrast with high tech corian and metal. Floating surfaces and suspended forms are paired with transparent lighting and unique space framing to create an overall sense of harmony. The pearlized leather sofas and chairs are inviting touches that complete the feeling of warmth and luxury.
Regarding the opening, President and Regional Director of Ferragamo USA, Jean Marc Gallot commented, “We are very excited to be opening a store at Americana Manhasset. The community is a strong, involved and affluent one that understands and appreciates the qualities that define the House: luxury, style, tradition and innovation.”
In celebration of the opening, Ferragamo will partner with the Long Island Antique Show taking place on October 25 – 27 to benefit the North Shore University Hospital Critical Car Unit at Glen Cove. Massimo Ferragamo, Chairman, Ferragamo USA, is the Honorary Chair and says about the partnership, “Ferragamo has a long history of philanthropic and community involvement worldwide. We believe it is important to get to know the community and to be involved in it. We are proud to support such a worthy cause for North Shore University Hospital and what we hope will be a very strong and lasting relationship for the future.”
Salvatore Ferragamo joins Giorgio Armani, Christofle, Brooks Brothers, Williams-Sonoma and Thomas Pink on the northeast end of Americana Manhasset. For information, please call 516.365.9765.
The top 15 most productive shopping centers in the U.S. in terms of average sales per square foot. There’s no doubt that shopping centers have taken a beating of late. The most successful, however, tend to have some common characteristics: they are popular tourist destinations, filled with high-end retailers, have a captive audience and/or are located in a densely populated area. After the top 15, several centers reportedly fall slightly above the $600 range, including the Las Vegas Fashion Show and The Somerset Collection in Troy,Mich. More than a dozen centers are said to do $500 to $600 a square foot in sales, including powerhouses such as Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. and the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y. The following list is based on consensus estimates.
Sales per square foot: $900 to $1,000
This small open air shopping center has landscaped gardens and every upscale shop worth mentioning, from Giorgio Armani and Prada to Barneys New York. It’s deep-pocketed customers from Nassau County and Manhattan are a loyal bunch.
May 16, 2002
‘One-on-One Shopping: Getting Personal at Americana Manhasset’
by Manhasset Press, Great Neck Record, Roslyn News
What should I wear to the U.S. Open? Where can I find a unique garden party hostess gift? Can you help give my wardrobe a more contemporary look? Americana Manhasset’s Personal Shoppers are the perfect resource for answering these questions and more. With a keen understanding of their customers’ lifestyles and access to over 45 stores and hundreds of brands, they provide an easy and efficient shopping experience. And it’s complimentary.
Karen Loeffler, Americana Manhasset Fashion Director and Personal Shopper, is not looking to recreate you or change your style, but she may “suggest you stretch yourself creatively and try something a bit new – a cut you’ve never considered or a designer you’re unfamiliar with. We want to help you enhance your own sense of individuality.”
“A man in need of suiting recently visited me,” Loeffler relays. “He’d been buying the same designer for years and was reluctant to try names he had never considered for himself.” Loeffler suggested they visit Barneys New York, a store that was new to him. Although initially hesitant to shop there, he concluded his visit to Barneys, “confident in his new Ermenegildo Zegna and Canali styles which suited him perfectly.”
“Women and men come to us because they have more pressing things to think about than their wardrobe, yet they certainly want to look and feel their best,” says Loeffler. “Most know what they like and what generally works for them, and I bring to the table a knowledge of the collections and what will suit their style, shape, and various occasions. Today’s active life creates a variety of fashion needs, so our objective is building a wardrobe that takes you any place, any time of year. ”
According to Shauna Blatt, Americana Manhasset Personal Shopper, many young women visit her with an eclectic sensibility, which is very hip right now. The result is a fusion that is about comfort and lifestyle, not label. “They’ll pair faded Seven Jeans from Barneys New York with a Gap t-shirt, Manolo Blahnik mules and a Christian Dior handbag. Our service makes sense for them because we offer an enormous number of designers and range of styles and, of course, we’ll work within their budget.”
“Customers trust us because we’re working for them, not for one specific store, ” offers Blatt. Many opt to visit selected stores with Loeffler or Blatt, enjoying the experience of shopping with a knowledgeable, personal guide who will be honest about what’s working for them and what’s not. When time is at a premium, the Personal Shoppers will pull items ahead of time for a client to view and try on in the comfort of the Personal Shopping Suite.
Loeffler considers one-on-one relationship building the key to her service. “It may take time to ease into the idea of using a personal shopper for wardrobing. People often realize what an asset we can be in fulfilling their fashion needs after first visiting us with specific gift-giving needs.” Loeffler and Blatt are the perfect resource for gifting when over-extended schedules make shopping for presents a difficult task. “We can respond quickly and follow through with the details, including appropriate wrapping and delivery,” says Loeffler.
At this time of year, weddings, graduations, and summer entertaining “offer challenging opportunities to present functional and unique gifts that make an impression.” For the bride and groom, Loeffler likes personally engraved chopsticks with coquille chopstick rests at Christofle. Consider a modern update of a traditional gift – a Corum watch at London Jewelers for the new grad. For the Hamptons hostess, Blatt recommends Chanel’s graffiti print beach towel, complete with it’s own carrying case, at Hirshleifer’s.
And what to wear to all of those functions this season? For a summer evening wedding, try Giorgio Armani’s black jersey dress with shirred lace bodice and asymmetrical hem. Pair it with a black leather envelope bag with red floral chiffon beaded applique, also at Giorgio Armani. For pomp and circumstance, look chic in Diane von Furstenberg’s navy and kelly green mod print wrap dress at Barneys New York. Perfect the outfit with Manolo Blahnik’s navy strappy sandals, also at Barneys New York. And for that Hamptons beach party be sure to slip on Prada’s fun and flirty sheer polka dot beach dress and matching gabardine beach tote.
Jul 25, 2000
‘Shopping the Madison Avenue of Manhasset (Don’t Say Mall)’
by Guy Trebay, New York Times
The two blond women with the tousled Frederic Fekkai haircuts were looking at snapshots over customized Cobbs (hold the ham, hold the cucumber, hold the avocado) at Millie’s Place, the salads chased by iced tea, two Equals a piece.
”Does she look good or does she look good?” asked the first woman, a 48-year-old grandmother, who asked to remain nameless.
”Adorable,” said her 50-year-old, anonymity-seeking friend. ”So, how was Aspen?”
”Aspen was January. We’re just back from Napa. So, are you loving this picture?”
”Beautiful. And what is she wearing?”
”How old is she now?”
This exchange took place at the Americana shopping center in Manhasset, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Shore. Please don’t say mall, though. The Americana at Manhasset is to ”mall” as upper Madison Avenue is to Market Street in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Comparisons don’t obtain.
For starters, there are few places in America where a handsome middle-aged woman dressed for a morning of tennis followed by light lunch and some shopping would not appear conspicuous wearing a crocodile Hermes belt ($1,495) over Ralph Lauren microfiber shorts ($95), a Jil Sander T-shirt ($300), a cotton sweater from Lacoste ($155), tan crocodile driving shoes from Tod’s ($1,500) and carrying a beige alligator Kelly bag ($7,000). Even the woman’s gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust ($15,900) was worn with the insouciance most folks might associate with a Timex.
But the Americana is not a most-folks destination. It is, as its developer, Frank Castagna, said, the ”premiere shopping destination on Long Island.” With its limestone facade, designed by the society architect Peter Marino; its swathes of meadow flowers and grasses, arranged by the modish landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden & Associates; its 225,000 square feet of retail space devoted almost exclusively to luxury brands; the Americana has become an alternate Madison Avenue, a mini Rodeo Drive, the parking lot where America’s economic steamroller gets its ticket stamped.
”We’re an off-the-radar oasis,” said Deirdre Major, a spokeswoman for the Castagna Realty Company, although the Americana hasn’t quite slipped the attention of Prada,Escada, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Max Mara, which all maintain stores there, or of Louis Vuitton, whose Americana outpost averages annual sales ”in the millions of dollars,” a spokesman said.
The Americana’s tenants include not merely such traditional carriage trade retailers as Tiffany & Company and Christofle, but also the members of the luxury pack currently dominating fashion retailing in the United States. Giorgio Armani opened a new franchise there just three weeks ago. Fendi and Hermes are both planning new boutiques for the fall. Hirshleifer’s, the venerable retailer specializing in high-end apparel from Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel, is undergoing renovation to triple its selling space. And the accessories designer Kate Spade is also in the process of opening a stand-alone shop. It probably says something about a bull market that her location was formerly occupied by a bank.
The Americana, said John Slavinsky, a senior vice president for Vuitton, ”is absolutely the best place to have a freestanding store on Long Island, bar none.” It doesn’t require a business degree from Wharton to understand the rationale for this, when even babies are wearing Dior.
”It’s crazy,” said Christina Makowsky, the owner of a Northern Boulevard boutique, Georgina, that is what you might call Americana-adjacent. ”You can’t believe the money people are throwing around these days. It’s liquid millions. Even if you’re rich, you’re poor.”
Of the 250 richest American towns recently cited by Worth magazine, 12 in the top 50 are a short drive from the Americana. The average household income of an Americanacustomer hovers around $125,000, Ms. Major said. But surely, as one shop owner remarked, that is too modest: ”Maybe it’s the salary for the maid.”
Even as Nassau County wrangles with the state for a financial bailout, the Americana delivers Prada platform shoes and Gucci lug soles and Vuitton pastel logo bags to what Kiki Nolan, the manager for Thomas Pink at the Americana, called, ”the richest people on Long Island,” the ones that ”you see at all the charity parties, the grand parties, the famous rich families of Long Island.” Plenty of the Americana’s customers seem to bypass fame, however, and head straight to rich.
”Communities have changed,” said Steven B. Greenberg, of the Greenberg Group, retail consultants whose clients include Gucci. ”Long Island’s old guard has sold many of those old homes. The land has been subdivided. Instead of one $10 million home, you have a lot of $3 million homes owned by people in their 30′s and 40′s.”
These people don’t want to venture to Manhattan, he went on. ”They want to buy luxury, but in a convenient setting.” Consequently, rents approach $200 a square foot, a price unsurpassed in any suburban setting in America, Mr. Greenberg said. ”That’s right up there with the top shopping streets in America, but the volumes warrant it,” he said. Retailers can realize a return of $1,000 a square foot, he added, although industry journals peg the figure closer to $850. Still, that is triple the average return at a mainstream mall.
It wasn’t always so lucrative. ”We had a disjointed center,” said Mr. Castagna, whose family construction firm also built the Nassau Coliseum and the cell blocks at Rikers Island. When Mr. Castagna bought the land that would become the Americana from the developer William Levitt in 1956, he optimistically incorporated the new center as the Fifth Avenue of Long Island. As it turned out, he was off by an avenue and several decades. Among the early tenants were a Magic Pan and Baker’s Shoes. ”At a certain point,” he added, ”we did a study and discovered that the land was more valuable with no buildings on it. We started a major move then to go in this direction.” The direction was luxury. As it happens, the economy was headed that way, too.
And now, ”the silent cash register is always ringing, silently,” said a former buyer for Federated Department Stores, which in 1996 opened a $100 million specialty wing of its Bloomingdale’s satellite at the Roosevelt Field mall to compete with Americana’ luxury brands. ”You walk into some of the stores,” the buyer added, ”and they’re empty. But they’ve already done $50,000 that morning, selling sweaters to women who get bored at home and say, ‘Let’s order some stuff up.’ ”
The typical Americana consumer, added Lori Hirshleifer Sills, scion of a retailing business begun at the turn of the century in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, ”is very high end. She’s a 16 year old who comes to us for Gucci belts and accessories, and she’s a woman in her 70′s who’sbuying Chanel.” She is a woman, said Josh Patner, a co-designer for Tuleh, a label that will soon have its own miniboutique in Hirshleifer’s, ”with a gorgeous car, a gorgeous home, who loves to look like a woman, and who is married to a man who loves women to look like women.” There is one Hirshleifer’s customer, Mr. Patner said, who owns ”sapphires that match her Rolls.” What retailer, he added, could ask for more?
MANHASSET, LONG ISLAND – (AUGUST 2012) – This month Americana Manhasset debuts its oversized,
black-and-white 64-page Fall Book, “Speechless.” Fall ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry from the
most luxurious brands in the world are captured in a high-style picture book starring top runway and
editorial models Karlie Kloss and Clèment Chabernaud. And making his first appearance in a fashion
campaign is Uggie, the dog who gained fame for his role in the Oscar winning film, “The Artist.”
The book will be direct-mailed to 130,000 targeted households. The images will be featured in national and
regional print ads in publications such as The New York Times, as well as in various digital media including
Departures.com. The campaign will also be shown prominently throughout the fall/winter on Americana’s
In conjunction with the still images, Americana Manhasset will debut a silent short film, also entitled
“Speechless.” The black-and-white piece is a fashionable homage to classic silent films of the early 1920’s.
It features Kloss as the movie star, Uggie as her constant companion, and Chabernaud as her would-be
suiter, along with a cast of other classic characters. As well as appearing front and center on Americana’s
website, a 30-second version of the film will appear on New York City taxi televisions for five days during
New York Fashion Week, guaranteed approximately 1 million views. Americana’s Fall campaign also
includes a 4-minute behind-the-scenes video,“The Making of ‘Speechless,’” which gives viewers a fun, fastpaced,
insider’s glimpse into the photo and video shoot. The music and editing of this piece epitomize the
1920’s vibe prevalent throughout the entire campaign.
The campaign was shot in Los Angeles at Paramount and KCET Studios, as well as Oviatt Penthouse and
Cicada Restaurant, both famous for their genuine art deco details. Photographed, produced and styled by
Laspata/DeCaro, the campaign has an authentic yet modern sensibility, with Americana’s heroine dancing
the Charlston, chatting with Charlie Chaplin on the back lot, and driving onto the set in her 1920’s Cadillac.
“So many designers this season seem to be harkening back to the early 20th century in some way. We saw a
lot of traditional materials such as cut velvet and lace, but combined in new ways. It was this sensibility that
inspired us for Americana Manhasset’s Fall campaign,” said Charles DeCaro. “Once we decided on the
silent movie theme, we ran with it in a fun and dramatic way. The styling and props all had to fit the theme,
from the finger curl in Karlie’s hair to the vintage movie lights. As always, while we put forth a strong
editorial voice, it is the fashion and respective designers’ messages that remain the focus. We shoot a
unique and appropriate photograph for each brand, from Prada and Louis Vuitton to Tory Burch and
Theory, but each image also works as part of the whole.”
Americana Manhasset is a premier collection of over 60 fine shops, including Hermès, Prada, Louis Vuitton,
Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Cartier, Ermenegildo Zegna, Van Cleef & Arpels, Dior, Hirshleifers, London Jewelers
and more, all within a unique outdoor environment designed by renowned architect Peter Marino and
landscape designer Oehme van Sweden. Americana Manhasset offers a complimentary Personal Shopping
Service, a remarkable luxury fashion and gift resource. Located on Long Island’s beautiful North Shore,
Americana Manhasset is 20 miles from Manhattan and 50 miles from the Hamptons.
Additional and/or high-resolution images from the 2012 Fall Book are available upon request.
Americana Manhasset is proud to announce that our month-long National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign resulted in an $8,000 donation to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer, and The Maurer Foundation for Breast Health Education. For every customer that purchased an Americana Manhasset GiftCard during the month of October, Americana donated $5 towards the fight against Breast Cancer. Thanks to all who purchased our GiftCard in an effort to support this worthwhile initiative!
Americana Manhasset is a premier collection of sixty fabulous shops, including Hirshleifers, Chanel, Versace, Fendi, Prada, Gucci, London Jewelers, Cartier, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and more, all within a unique outdoor environment designed by renowned architect Peter Marino and landscape designer Oehme van Sweden. Americana Manhasset offers a complimentary Personal Shopping Service, a remarkable fashion and gift resource. For more information on Americana Manhasset please visit americanamanhasset.com.
46 XX, a Contemporary Art exhibition featuring the works of famous Hyper-Realist, Carole Feuerman, and emerging artists India Evans, Christy Singleton and Lisa Wade, will open at Americana Manhasset. Recently on view at Na Solyanke Art Gallery in Moscow’s Red Square, 46 XX will make its American debut beginning June 25, 2009 at Americana Manhasset.
“46 XX is the genetic notation for women,” notes Oksana Salamatina, Director of the Salamatina Gallery. “This exhibition celebrates the power of the female impulse in Contemporary American Art. The show explores a woman’s beauty, sensuality and symbolism in works that range from sculptures in bronze, resin, or silicone to mixed media collages, works on paper, and painted/sculpted fabric.”
“Americana recognizes creativity and innovation as driving forces in both art and fashion,” notes Deirdre Costa Major. “This new exhibition offers dynamic images and objects to be explored in the gallery and in several of our boutiques.”
46 XX will be presented by the Salamatina Gallery, within the Morrison Hotel Gallery at Americana Manhasset. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 10 pm to 6 pm, Sunday from 12 noon to 5 pm, and extended hours on Thursday until 8 pm. Americana Manhasset is located on the North Shore of Long Island, 20 miles from Manhattan and 50 miles from the Hamptons. For inquires, please call 516.439.4471.
Salamatina Gallery is a full service art advisory gallery founded by Oksana Salamatina. An alumna of both Christie’s and Sotheby’s with experience in the museum field, Oksana is also a former Elite model with degrees in both art and business. Her firm represents established and emerging Contemporary artists, in addition to blue-chip masters of the 19th and 20th centuries. For more information on Salamatina Gallery please visit salamatina.com.
Americana Manhasset is a premier collection of sixty fine shops, including Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Hirshleifer’s, London Jewelers, Cartier, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and more, all within a unique outdoor environment designed by renowned architect,Peter Marino and landscape designer, Oehme van Sweden. Americana Manhasset offers a complimentary Personal Shopping Service, a remarkable fashion and gift resource. For more information on Americana Manhasset please visit americanamanhasset.com.
Americana Manhasset hosted an online sweepstakes for a $2,500 Americana Manhasset GiftCard on americanamanhasset.com. The sweepstakes ran from May 2008 through September 2008.
Congratulations to Susan Shafer who was the shopping spree winner!
July, 2008. The 5th Annual Americana Manhasset Concours d’Elegence, presented by Ritz-Carlton Residences, North Hills, will take place on Sunday, October 12. The event has grown into one of New York’s premier luxury car events featuring 200 rare, privately owned cars that compete for Best in Show as well as Best in Class titles. This year’s event will focus on “A Salute to Racing Heritage – the Journey from the Race Track to the Luxury Supercar.” Marek Reichman, the design director for Aston Martin and the lead designer for the Rapide, a four door luxury sports car, will be the guest of honor at this year’s Concours.
In addition to showcasing Aston Martin, the Pininfarina Ferrari Dino 206C Competizione 1967, designed by Paolo Martin will make its East Coast debut following a complete restoration by Pininfarina. Other notable cars that will participate in this year’s competition are (list in formation): a 1910 Buick “16” Roadster, two MC12 corsa chassis’ numbers 10 and 11 of 12 world wide, a 1935 Alfa Romeo, the 1998 Ferrari F1 Schumacher car, a 2007 Challenge Race Car, a 1970 Ferrari 512S Race Car and a 2009 Alfa Romeo 8C.
In addition to these privately owned cars, Lamborghini Long Island will feature the new Gallardo LP5 60 and the Murcielago LP 640, Bentley Long Island will display the 2009 Brooklands and a GT Speed, Aston Martin will show a 2009 DBS, 2009 DB9 Volante and a 2009 Roadster, Porsche Roslyn will display the Porsche RS Spider and the 2009 911 second generation. Ferrari Maserati of Long Island will showcase the 2009 Ferrari 430 GTS Spyder, and a 2009 Maserati Gran Turismo Cabriolet.
Americana Manhasset is pleased to announce that NLD for Pediatrics will be the beneficiary for the 2008 Concours. NLD raises funds for the Child Life Program at Schneider Children’s Hospital as well as other critical hospital based programs such as the Urgicenter walk-in center. A special raffle drawing for a 2008 Maserati GranTurismo will be held at the conclusion of the Concours award presentation. The car was provided by Maserati Long Island as part of a fundraising initiative to benefit the NLD. Tickets are $250 or five tickets for $1,000.
Official judging begins at 9:30 am. Howard Krimko, head of the Antique & Collectible Division of Bentley Long Island, will serve as Chief of Judges for the event. The results of the competition and the award presentation, courtesy of Tiffany & Co., will take place at 1:30 pm on the north side of Americana Manhasset. The Ritz-Carlton Residences, North Hills, is the Presenting Sponsor of the event. Other sponsors include BWD Group and Chubb Insurance as the Premier Sponsor and HSBC Bank USA, N.A., as the Patron Sponsor.