Mon-Wed, 10am-6pm; Thu, 10am-7pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, closed
F at Lexington Ave.-63rd St.; N, Q, R at Fifth Ave.-59th St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
There's a heady whiff of old money the minute you step into Hermes' plush, wood-paneled confines—quite literally, in fact, since the air carries the faint scent of its signature perfumes. The upscale French retailer is best known for its classic leather handbags; the coveted Kelly and Birkin bags, named for Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin, respectively, can fetch prices that exceed a year's Ivy League tuition. (The bags are emphatically not in stock, but special-ordered, often requiring a two- to three-year wait. Patience is an expensive virtue.) The store also carries a full line of luxurious men’s and women’s clothing, elegant housewares that give a new meaning to domestic art, as well as shoes and accessories, quite a few carry a relatively manageable three-digit price tag. Items like china and cufflinks are frozen behind glass cases, making Hermes feel more as much museum as store; at the lavish four-level Madison Avenue outpost, the top floor does actually house a gallery.