OR TRY: The binoculars at Paragon Sports are sports-related, with boating and trekking prime. Willoughby's Konica Imaging Center (138 West 32nd Street; 212-564-1600) has a well-organized binoculars department. If you know exactly what you're looking for, you might find it at B&H for the lowest price (though all the stores mentioned above discount binoculars).
CITY OF ANGLERS
Q: I've developed a passion for fly-fishing and wonder if there are actually stores in Manhattan where I can pick up the necessary garb and gear.
A: Even in midtown, miles from any stream, you can find everything from bamboo poles to high-end graphites and passionate fishermen to buy them from.
Urban Angler (118 East 25th Street; 212-979-7600) is nestled on the third floor of a midtown office building, yet it's equipped with all the rods, reels, and flies you'd need. Owners Steve and Jon Fisher (a father-and-son team) are vastly knowledgeable and patient even with fishing dummies. They stock mainly high-end equipment and only the products that they've tested: rods by G. Loomis, Sage, and Winston; reels by Abel, Tibor, and Ross; and lines by all the top names. And they carry anything you might need for the sport of the moment, saltwater angling. Hundreds of flies are neatly lined up in wooden cases; cabinets hold the larger and more colorful saltwater ones. There are vests, jackets, gear bags, and Gore-Tex stocking-foot waders too.
Capital Fishing Tackle Company (218 West 23rd Street; 212-929-6132) demonstrate their rods on 23rd Street. So if you see someone fly-casting on the sidewalk, don't do a double-take. This 100-year-old company (30 years at its present location) not only stocks both inexpensive rods like the Pflueger composite graphite and Thomas & Thomas high-end graphites but it even has bamboo beauties for the purist. There are reels for the beginner and the pro and, of course, a full range of lines, flies, waders, and gear bags.
OR TRY: The great-granddaddy of American fly-fishing, Orvis (355 Madison Avenue, at 45th Street; 212-697-3133) was founded by Charles F. Orvis in 1856, and the Manchester, Vermont-based company has been producing the most technologically advanced fly-fishing gear every since.The selection isn't huge, but Paragon Sports (867 Broadway, at 18th Street; 212-255-8036) carries all the fly-fishing essentials (rods, reels, and lines).An oddity on the fly-fishing scene is Frank McNamara's Diamonds & Fly's (595 Fifth Avenue, at 48th Street, fourth floor; 212-888-4677). It's a quiet sanctum offering a strange amalgam of jewelry and fly-fishing gear.
Q: I've recently had to dismantle my mother's apartment, and I discovered a cache of beautiful old lamps. The bases are in good shape, but the shades are all tattered. Where can I go for new ones that will look like the originals?
A: A good lamp shop will not only replace a shade, and make a frame and shade from scratch, but it will change the way you see shades forever.
Unique Lamp Shades (247 East 77th Street; 212-472-1140) is home to Perry Megown, a whiz at creating shades in every shape and style, from simple to outrageous. Everything in his cozy nook is custom-made, hand-sewn in a teeny workroom behind the shop by Megown and his "ladies." Even the frames are hand-built by a Brooklyn frame-maker. Megown can make shades in any fabric, or out of pleated paper, string, mica, goatskin, whatever.
Oriental Lampshade Company (223 West 79th Street, 212-873-0812; and 816 Lexington Avenue, near 62nd Street, 212-832-8190). Ron Murakami will work with a customer to design the correct shade for the lamp, the room, and the height of the table on which it will sit. As with custom-made shirts, everything is done by hand, from hand-cutting the paper patterns to hand-binding the frames to hand-stitching the fabric. Less pricey are Murakami's ready-mades, and he stocks a huge assortment in just about every color, size, shape, and style.
OR TRY: The shelves at Just Shades (21 Spring Street; 212-966-2757) are piled high with more than 3,000 mostly white and ecru lampshades of every size, but about 60 percent of the business is custom.A homemaker's Eden, Gracious Home (1220 Third Avenue, at 70th Street, 212-517-6300; and 1992 Broadway, at 67th Street, 212-231-7800) is rife with lampshades in every shape (from oval to bouillotte), every style (box pleat to country pleat), and every fabric (muslin to needlepoint).
Q: I want to redo my bedroom, and I love the look of the upholstered headboards in the Hollywood movies of the forties and fifties. Is anyone doing them today?
A: It seems voguish designers love them, too. Though you'll see padded and upholstered headboards in the shelter magazines, you won't find them in many stores, so it's best to have yours custom-made.
Richard's Interior Design (1390 Lexington Avenue, near 92nd Street; 212-831-9000) has been upholstering the sofas and chairs of fussy East Side matrons for close to 30 years. Richard Harary and his staff turn out a half-dozen upholstered headboards a week, so he always has samples on hand for you to see. He can make them curved or straight; with a single or double roll or none at the top; quilted or unquilted; shirred or plain. And he stocks a grand selection of imported and domestic fabrics. Beckenstein Fabric & Interiors (4 West 20th Street; 212-366-5142), where you'll find pros who can upholster just about anything, is owned by the same family as Beckenstein, an Orchard Street institution that's been around for 88 years. Their headboards are layered with foam, then stuffed with down (and a tad of synthetic fiber so they won't sag and droop), then covered with a fabric, one of a huge assortment from all the top mills. Beckenstein also makes duvet-ish covers that can be slipped over any old headboard to instantly dress up a less-than-pristine-looking bed. Martin Albert Interiors (9 East 19th Street; 212-673-8000) makes headboards in any style. You can bring in a photo of a bed you like and the staff will replicate it, or you can choose a look from photos of the beds they've done.
JUST SAY NEIGH
Q: I'm eager to begin horseback riding again, but I'm having difficulty finding a store that carries traditional English riding wear. The shops I used to love all seem to have closed. Do you know of any that are still around?
A: You're right -- finding riding garb in the city is dicey. Until recently, there were more than a handful of shops devoted to the sport. Most have closed, but there are some bright spots.
Miller Harness Co. (117 East 24th Street; 212-673-1400) has been around since 1883, and the good news is that it's as exhaustively stocked as ever, with ratcatcher shirts, breeches, classic show coats, and dressage frocks. Mostly, the store carries its own line of clothing, but there are English-made hunt coats and a sprinkling of European brands. The store's inventory of footwear is equally complete; there's every kind of boot, from mucker to field to dress -- even Vogel custom beauties.
OR TRY: Long before the fashion aristocracy latched on to its silk scarves and Kelly bags, Hermès (11 East 57th Street; 212-751-3181) was devoted to the horse and rider. Hermès has not forgotten its roots and still does hunt coats, breeches, and shirts classically cut from the finest materials, and custom-made boots.The name is Polo Sport Ralph Lauren (379 West Broadway; 212-625-1660), so in his new SoHo digs you'll find classic riding essentials.Clothier Winston Tailors (11 East 44th Street, fifth floor; 212-687-0850) makes custom riding apparel for men and women, even the pink coat (that's actually red) for riding to the hounds.Bootmaker to the U.S. Olympic team, E. Vogel (19 Howard Street; 212-925-2460) has been turning out fabulous riding boots since 1879. The boots are prized for their perfect fit and impeccable style. Vogel makes dress -- as well as field, hunt, dressage, and polo -- boots from imported calfskin (supple; full grain; and the most popular), baby calf (known as the cashmere of the boot industry), and domestic leather (most durable; ideal for schooling but not great for show).
Q: I've just moved into a great apartment with smallish rooms, and it's dark. I want to use mirrors to add light and give the illusion of space, but I hate mirrored walls. I've spotted some mirrors with fabulous frames in the shelter magazines, but I don't know who sells them. Any suggestions?
A: Mirrors are back in the good graces of today's top interior designers, who might prop one magnificently framed against a wall or arrange a group of smallish ones in the foyer. Socialite Slim Keith once said that all you have to do is fill a wall with lots of mirrors -- it's a lot cheaper than buying a Renoir. The bad news is that some now cost almost as much as that Renoir. Whether you're looking for antiques, reproductions, or modern, there are a number of options, from pricey antiques to antique or new frames custom-made into mirrors to brand-new ones.
Bernard & S. Dean Levy (24 East 84th Street; 212-628-7088) is where serious collectors of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American furniture go; though their collection of looking glasses is not vast, there are always a dozen or more splendid examples that might include a large gilded-walnut Chippendale circa 1760 or a Queen Anne with a pierce-shell insert. Mostly, these mirrors are in the $22,000-to-$50,000 range, but there are a few wonderful Chippendales for under $5,000.
Kentshire Galleries (37 East 12th Street; 212-673-6644) has seven antiques-filled floors, and in among the breathtaking, mostly English furniture, you'll see some awesome mirrors. A few date back to the late seventeenth century, others are from the mid-nineteenth, and the broad range of styles includes William & Mary, Regency, Adams, George II, and George III. Prices here can soar to $600,000 for a pair of carved chinoiserie mirrors, but there are ones a tad cheaper, like a simple Adam-style border mirror.