40 Mercer St.
An army of models dressed in Mao Zedong–inspired gray suits marched down Broadway in fall 2007 to celebrate the opening of the Vivienne Tam flagship store. Today, rows of mannequins sporting colorful, sequined cocktail dresses greet shoppers at the vast 2,200-square-foot boutique. Since 1994, the Chinese-born designer has been a leading fashion presence, specializing in sophisticated, silky garments fit for cocktail hour. Rows of gauzy blouses, flouncy skirts, sweeping gowns, and delicate jackets are displayed in graphic prints and vibrant solids, as well as an exclusive rack of Tam’s “Jade” collection, featuring couture straight from the runway. Although items from the Jade line start at $2,000 (double that of the rest of the apparel), the price reflects the craftsmanship, like handmade embellishments and digital printing. The store’s sleek, minimalist interior keeps the focus on the rich fabrics, but Tam’s Eastern heritage is palpable in a two-story antique teahouse replica stationed in the back of the boutique, which offers tea for dragging shoppers.