I'll be coming to NYC for a college scouting trip with my mama this summer and want to know what we should see. We've both only seen the city once before!! We're planning it so that we're checking out the school on Friday so we'll have the whole weekend to just play and see the city.
I'm a continuing fashion student and my mom is a visual artist so anything related to either of those things would be great. We would also love to see some theater while we're there so if you can recommend something that would be great. My mom said she'd like to treat me to one really nice dinner, too, so I'd love some suggestions about that. I'm so excited!!!
How fun that you and your mom are having a girls’ weekend in the city! You’re certainly in the right place for a fashionista! Here’s how you might want to break the weekend down:
On Saturday I would head to the costume exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, especially this summer. The Charles James exhibit is one of the most anticipated the museum has ever had so I would try to get their early—the lines for big exhibits can be insane. You will go crazy at the bookshop downstairs which has tons of fashion books and all kinds of fashion-related items. Here’s a little insider tip: in addition to the regular bookshop/gift store, there’s a discount store just under the Egyptian Wing. Ask a guard to point you in the right direction.
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in the area is closed at the moment but I would check out their site before you go anyway. They have a lot of events going on all over the city, some of which are fashion related.
There’s an organization in the city called the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) which was created to promote French tourism. Needless to say, they put on a ton of fashion-related events during the year so be sure to stop by and ask what they have going on.
There is absolutely no way a fashionista can go to New York and not go to Bergdorf Goodman. This is the Yankee Stadium of the New York fashion world and where you will not only see every designer you can think of on the racks, but possibly even in the store. Even the sales people here are legendary. This is actually also where I would go for my splurge meal. Their restaurant, BG at Bergdorf, is a great place to go for lunch or dinner (but NOT cheap!). Not only is the food great but the views are to die for as is the view which, unless you have a private apartment, is one of the best in the city. Awesome celebrity watching, too.
If BG is a little too steep or you just don’t want to spend the money there, I would hop over to The Plaza and check out Todd English Food Hall. It’s new and it’s wonderful—basically it’s just a bunch of different restaurants with various places to sit, but there’s a big selection of foods and you can definitely find something. Plus it’ll give you an excuse to see the Plaza.
You’ll end up backtracking a bit but I would head downtown a bit and check out a store called Around The World. They sell fashion magazines from just about every country on the planet—I could spend hours here as many people do.
A restaurant I really like the area is Fig & Olive Restaurant. There are several of them in the city and although I don’t ordinarily like chains or anything that resembles one, I do like this place. For New York it’s relatively moderate and always reliable. Make reservations if you can as it can get very crowded.
As far as theater goes, I’m not a big fan of what Broadway is right now (i.e. Shrek), so I, personally, would do one of two things: 1) I would try to see a show called The Fantasicks which is literally the world’s longest running musical and it’s great. It played downtown for something like 50 years but now it’s in the Broadway area so I would try to catch it. 2) I would see what’s playing at Lincoln Center. There’s literally always something interesting here whether that’s ballet, classical music, or opera. The reason I think this would interest you is because it’s also where the fashion shows are held twice a year now. Insider tip: sometimes you can catch an open rehearsal here for a fraction of the cost of the ticket. You can even just call the box office at the theaters here and they’ll tell you when there is one.
This is definitely not a splurge restaurant, but I would at least have a little pre-dinner snack at Joe Allen Restaurant. It’s where all the Broadway actors go to eat before and after performances and the joke of it is that they display all the posters from shows that bombed. The food is just basic hamburgers and fries, but it’s a legend and fun to see.
Also, you can’t really say you’ve had the true fashion experience in New York unless you’ve been to a sample sale. These are serious events in the city and aside from getting great deals you can get a taste of what the city is really like for a New Yorker. Check out this site for info:
Sunday I would definitely get up early and head to the The Garage Flea Market downtown. Not only is it amazing for people watching, but there are quite a few vendors who carry really incredible clothing, both vintage and contemporary. There are also a lot of vendors who carry amazing art work whether that’s prints or originals. It’s also known as being a big hot spot for designers and design students to go for inspiration so you should definitely check it out. In addition to the flea market there are also tons of great vintage shops around there like New York Vintage. Another great place is the The Thrifty Hog nearby.
You cannot come to New York as a would-be fashion student and not go to The Museum at FIT (it may even be where you’re applying). They always have really, really interesting exhibits and great talks. I also know the museum is open on Sundays which is nice. By the way, FIT is in the Garment District which is not terribly fascinating in and of itself but at least you can say you’ve seen it.
If you walk just a few blocks up you’ll find Mood Designer Fabrics, the fabric store featured on Project Runway. What’s fun about Mood is not just that there is so much fabric but that they sell left over fabric from designer runs so if there’s a fabric you like by say, Armani, there’s a chance they might have it. That said, this stuff isn’t cheap but even if you just buy a yard or two you can do something with it.
You’ll need to back track a little but I would head back towards downtown again and a little further east and check out Eataly for dinner or at least a snack. Normally, this kind of big, tourist-infested place is the kind of attraction I try to stay away from but I really like Eataly which, as you may know, is Mario Batali’s giant Italian food hall. It has several different restaurants in it, all of which are excellent. Only a few of the restaurants within it take reservations so I would try to make them ahead of time. Also, it is really crowded here and loud so this is not the place to go if you and your mom want to have a quiet dinner.
If you want to make this your (semi-) splurge night I would consider Les Halles. The food is really fantastic, very reliable and the décor is lovely. By the way, the reason I said semi-splurge is because for New York, it’s actually a fairly reasonable place—I would say entrees run about $21-38 which is really not too bad.
If you’re not into French food, I would head a little further downtown and check out The House It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the city and it’s great for people watching. The food is fantastic and very creative although there are enough staples on the menu that you can easily find something you like.
Also, one more dinner idea in that part of town— Maialino is a stunning Italian restaurant that is one of my absolute favorites. The food is great and the ambiance is fun without being crazy and loud. It’s also a great place to see models and designers.
Since you’re downtown, I would check out a theater like La Mama or The Public Theater which always have great, if avant guard stuff going on. Sometimes they even have productions that eventually go to Broadway and it’s a lot of fun to see them before that happens.
Have a great time!!!
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If you are applying to Fashion Institute Of Technology, Parsons The New School for Design, Pratt Institute, etc. you should obviously check out each school and the neighborhood around them. School in NYC does not have the same "campus-y" feel that other schools might have, so immersing yourself in the city will basically be your campus!
Definitely take your mom to the galleries around Chelsea (New York) and near the water. Lots of independent galleries, with shops in the area like Comme des garcons and other high-end retail. As a visitor you should definitely walk down the High Line Park for the view and people watching.
Other shops to check out: Opening Ceremony, Henrik Vibskov, Creatures Of Comfort, R by 45 rpm, Blue in Green. SoHo is great for people watching although always busy. Stay off Houston Street, walk down Spring stand go up and down the side streets.
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If you are a student of design, you must go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to the newley renovated Anna Wintour Costume Institute wing that will be featuring an exhibit "Charles James, Beyond Fashion". It open in early May. That way you get to see a fabulous art museum and great costume exhibit.
Have lunch in the courtyard restaurant on the 2nd floor and don't forget the museum shop on main level.
Make sure you see the The Museum at FIT at Fashion Institute Of Technology, visit Bergdorf Goodman and just wander each of the floors and maybe treat yourselves to afternoon tea. Have a conversation with one of the personal shoppers in the store, tell them you are a fashion student and ask them to tell you what they see in the market, what's trending, what sells, etc. For a nice dinner if you want a classic NY Steak House then I like Strip House on 12th Street. If you want Italian then Tre Dici on 26th is a neighborhood gem and if you like Japanese then Sushi Zen on 44th has an amazing chef.
Enjoy your trip!
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