Fashion in Full

These four major flagships help bring fashion from designers’ houses into yours

As a fashion capitol of the world, Manhattan not only draws top designers to set up shop, but it also requires them to put their best foot forward. Luckily, them doing so means that you can, too, getting first access to runway looks and designer classics. After all, who wants to buy a Chanel quilted bag without slinging it over their shoulder first?

Former the designer for Gucci, Tom Ford, launched his own line in 2004, ingeniously, turning his own sleek, chic lifestyle into a global lifestyle brand. Nowhere is this better encapsulated than in his 13,000-square-foot flagship store on the Upper East Side. Silver and gold installation art by Christopher Schanck greets shoppers on the first floor, where womenwear, accessories and his cult-followed cosmetics line sit pretty in various salons. Up the Makassar ebony staircase, men’s sportswear, luggage, fragrance and eyewear hold court, not to mention the Gatsby-esque shirt selection: 350 colors, multiple cuff and collar styles, and an assortment of fabrics. A VIP salon takes appointments for made-to-measure suits – a level of luxury that Ford is one of the proud few to still propagate. (Madison Ave. at 70th St.)

If there is one designer synonymous with high fashion, it’s Chanel, and the flagship just below Central Park embodies all the brand has represented since Coco Chanel founded it in 1909. Redesigned by starchitect Peter Marino in 2004, every detail is intentional, such as the glossy red sliding screens that reveal and conceal different pieces from the most recent runway collection modeled after the Chinese lacquered ones in Coco’s Paris apartment. Little black dresses, quilted leather handbags (unpretentiously not behind glass), double Cs and stripes abound; and the signature tweed bouclé is visible in skirt suits as well as in the three-story-tall LED display of more than 25,0000 lights designed to look like the fabric. And, of course, perfume: walk past the exterior at night, and the windows align to alight in the image of the infamous Chanel No. 5 bottle. (57th St. at Madison Ave.)

Perhaps no brand balances the traditional and the modern, the understated and the flamboyant, the Italian and the global quite like Dolce & Gabbana, and so does their flagship on Fifth Avenue. Opened in May 2013, it’s still as shiny and new as its alligator shoes. Understatement has never been a word in these designers’ vocabulary, nor will it be found here. Venetian glass chandeliers, gilded oversized mirrors, Baroque sofas, Afyon marble and lots of velvet decorate the three floors of menswear, womenswear, and shoes and accessories. Lace dresses, ready-to-wear, mini dresses and leopard print galore prance in and out of the women’s dressing rooms; suits and evergreen classics, the men’s. (Madison Ave. at 69th St.)

Following the death of Yves Saint Laurent in 2008, Saint Laurent’s new designer Hedi Slimane has reinvented the global brand both out of respect for Yves’s legacy and to modernize houses’ image – most notably, dropping “Yves” from its name. The brand-new store in SoHo is accordingly modern, perhaps even post-modern in its austerity. Marble has a matte finish, glass is extra-clear, concrete is impeccably smooth, ceilings high, and black accents are especially inky. Even the air has a faint scent of leather to it. Yves’s famed creations of the classic Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women and the forward-thinking shirtdress are echoed here in Slimane’s dichotomy of designs for both ladies who lunch and downtown club kids, both of who come here to find the next favorite thing in their closet. Come for the motorcycle boots, stay for the fully mirrored walls in the dressing rooms – the most fashionable of fun-houses. (Greene St. nr. Prince St.)