Early Tuesday evening, a long line had queued up along the sidewalk on West 57th and Broadway. The year’s biggest shopping day was still a month away, but the crowds had come out to get an early look at one of the biggest New York retail openings of the year: a Nordstrom flagship in New York.
Inside, guests spread out over the massive space’s seven levels, where different departments — and party activations, including DJ sets by Lady Bunny and Kitty Cash, and live performances by Karen Elson and The Roots — awaited them.
Maria Sharapova could be found on the lower level shoe floor checking out the new offerings from the third installment of her collaboration with Nike, released exclusively at Nordstrom.
“I’ve been a fan [of the La Cortez] since I was a little girl; I think it’s a relatable shoe from a design perspective and also from a price point perspective,” she said, having paired a gray pair of sneakers with her Sacai look. The department store experience was also a point of nostalgia for the athlete.
“I remember seeing malls and department stores for the first time after spending my childhood in Russia,” she said. “I’d never seen anything like it. I was used to going to markets and picking up milk at this place, and then taking a bus and getting cheese at another place. So I was used to smaller things, and then when I came to the States, everything was just huge and mass and scalable.”
“I feel like we’re at MoMA,” said Olivia Wilde, and she wasn’t too far off: the flagship is decked with original art from contemporary artists, and a newly released app — Art @ Nordstrom — even provides an audio tour of the works. “It’s very museum like, it’s very chic. I love the space — space in New York is a commodity,” added Wilde, who was upstairs in the fifth floor VIP area with the rest of them: Karlie Kloss, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Zosia Mamet and Zoe Saldana.
Wilde, who recently finished directing a short with Margaret Qualley and will direct her second feature this upcoming spring, is eyeing another upcoming project: holiday shopping. “Tonight has made me excited for the holiday,” she said, adding that the store brought up memories of shopping with her grandmother. “My grandmother Jean was a real fashionista. She used to wear vintage Balenciaga; she was amazing. She used to take me shopping at Nordstrom. She really tried to make me a more stylish person, but I was not — but she tried, and I learned a lot from her. Me, being in here, is very sentimental. And I look forward to doing it with my daughter, taking her shopping.”
The family undercurrent was particularly evocative for the actress. “It’s a family-run business; it’s been around for 100 years,” she added. “We don’t know how long Barneys is going to be around, this is a dying industry and literal brick-and-mortar, so to have a family invest in this, I think it’s very emotional. I think it’s a good thing, it’s really good for New York.”
All things considered, the extended Nordstrom family was keeping a fairly low profile throughout the store.
“It’s kind of indescribable because it’s been such a long process,” said copresident Pete Nordstrom of watching the store fill with shoppers for the first time. “Even though we’ve been here along the way, to see it now with all the people in it, it’s pretty great. It’s been a fun journey, and it’s exciting for our teams that have contributed to it and the people who are working here, so it’s a lot of good positive feelings.”
It’s been a particularly long process for chairman emeritus Bruce Nordstrom, who first visited the city to try to find a retail space in New York City when he was 30.
“This is a long view, so to think we ended up like this — I can’t tell you,” said Nordstrom, surveying the packed room as The Roots took the floor around 9 p.m. “Surprised and happy, and really proud.”
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