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Kenneth Cole built a fashion empire literally from the ground up, with shoe designs (and marketing campaigns) noted for their audacity and their wide appeal. Now fully fledged as a design brand, Cole takes the industrial aesthetic that pervades New York’s recent architecture and adapts it to a retail environment, in a seamless look that defines both the design of the store and that of the clothing. The Rockefeller Center flagship displays the brand’s men’s and women’s collections on two floors, which are connected by a grand, streamlined glass, steel and slate staircase. The clothes themselves have a distinctly European feel, coupled with an urban, futuristic sensibility. Black, charcoal gray, white, khaki and every neutral shade in between (greige, anyone?) dominate, although seasonal pops of color do spice up the palette. Though the apparel tends toward the formal—best for the office and occasions when jeans just won’t cut it—the store does sell a few styles of dark-washed denim for both sexes. The men’s suits and leather outerwear are particularly sharp, while the accessories, from outstanding men’s and women’s leather shoes to chunky watches, geometric cufflinks, chic women’s handbags and sleek men’s briefcases, are especially sexy.Extra
Cole’s social activism was well-known even before he became a Cuomo spouse; his company supports causes like amfAR, Rock the Vote, Riverkeeper and Mentoring, USA.