Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, noon-7pm
N, Q, R at Fifth Ave.-59th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Although a conglomerate purchased Henri Bendel in the 1980s, this four-story luxury specialty store still exudes the atmosphere of an exclusive boutique. Founded by its namesake in 1895, Bendel attracted clients like the Astors and the Vanderbilts by importing designer wares and reportedly staging New York City's first-ever fashion show. The founder's tradition of showcasing up-and-coming upscale designers continues today, and celebrities such as Stephen Burrows and Anna Sui credit the store with the start of their success. Though the available brands and layout of the store changes, the ground floor is always beauty central, stocking a wide array of lines both big and small, domestic and imported, including NARS, Laura Mercier, BeneFit, and Mally Beauty; there are also luxe hair accessories and an adjacent gazebo space housing all the Henri Bendel brand handbags and jewelry. Up the spiral staircase, the mezzanine features the "fragrance landing" where the store's perfumes can be found. On Two, find an Illuminum perfume boutique, plus jewelry and accessories. Lalique windows stretch from floors two to four, the latter home to the flagship Frédéric Fekkai salon. Bendel’s signature brown-and-white striped dop kits and private label gifts are also favorites of the eclectic mix of customers streaming in and out of its massive golden doors.