Bohemian Rhapsody

Christopher Street is a quiet, quaint street, with gorgeous old buildings. Unlike Soho or the East Village, the West Village has maintained the feel of old New York ala Edith Wharton, especially Christopher Street. Begin at the top of Christopher at Sixth Ave and work your way west.

1/9 to Christopher Street, walk towards 6th Avenue on Christopher Street
A/C/B/D/E/V/F to West 4th Street

Sixth Avenue @Christopher Street
At the top of Christopher Street is Go Sushi. Go is low maintenance sushi. It’s almost cafeteria style. Order at the window, get a number and wait. There’s plenty of table space and counter space, ice cold AC, and a magazine wall for your reading pleasure with copies of Glamour, Marie Claire, and Maxim for the boys.

Go also sells pre-boxed sushi sets and Japanese munchies. The service is quick and the food is light and delicious; especially the Miso soup with mushrooms and the Veggie Steamed Dumplings.

9 Christopher Street
Store Hours:
Mon-Sat: 12-8
Sun: 1-7

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Aedes means temple of beauty in Latin and this unique store celebrates beauty and fragrance. The chandelier in the center of the ceiling, antique cabinets and dressers, red velvet, gilded fabric wallpaper and floral arrangements evoke a feeling of opulence.

Robert opened the store 10 years ago, building a local and celebrity clientele, which includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Liv Tyler, and Mrs. Marc Anthony. Robert, like his store is beautiful and sophisticated and owns two of the cutest and sweetest dogs alive.

Aedes carries very exclusive, limited edition perfumes from the world’s finest perfumiers. If you’re still in search of your signature scent or on an obsessive search for a fragrance, the likes of which no nose has ever known…at least that’s one of my obsessive searches… Aedes takes you and your perfume very seriously.

Somee of my new obsessions include:
NANADEBARY from Vienna, for $75-$125 (for the luscious old fashioned pump bottle) in Green (fresh with citrus, musk, and vetiver notes) or Bronze (cinnamon, vanilla, cedar wood, patchouli, and musk) or the original Nandebary Eau de Toilette (a mixture of lily, calabrias, jasmine, bourbon vanilla, cloves, musk, and sandalwood)

Nanadebary perfumes are “the purest that nature provides, dedicated to the goddess in every woman.” I especially love the packaging artwork featuring a sexy gal with cute pageboy, thigh highs and stilettos. Super feminine and very sexy.

HIERBAS DE IBIZA, inspired by the island of Ibiza, makes the perfect summer fragrance. If you’re going to be nowhere near Ibiza this summer, dancing with half naked strangers in gallons of foam, the scent of orange and lemon peel, thyme, lavender, sage, verbena, jasmine and orange blossoms, might just take you there, if only for a moment.3.4 oz $80.

CARTHUSIA is made in Capri, Italy offers several gorgeous scents, my favorites being the Eau de Toilette, Mediterraneo, with lemon and green tea notes and the Eau de Toilette, Fiori di Capri, with lily of the valley and sandalwood notes. $65 for 1.7 oz.

Sold at the exclusive Les Salons du Palais Royal, Serge Lutens creates dramatic, strong, and sensual perfumes with names that invoke a night at the opera: A La Nuit, Sa Majeste La Rose, and Ambre Sultan.

Other standouts are: Penhaligon’s of London Bluebell perfume in it’s old fashioned glass bottle with a sweet, simple scent, Santa Maria Novella, The Different Company, Miller Harris, Cote Bastide’s Ambre Eau de Toilette Splash (8oz for $44), a sexy earthy scent for dad’s and boyfriends, and the over forty varieties of Diptyque’s home sprays, candles, and Eau de Toilette. Founded in 1961, Diptyque’s scents are inspired by nature. The candles range from $48-$52 and the room sprays in The, Miel, Pomander, and Baies bring room deodorizers to a whole new level. They’ll make your home smell so good you won’t want to leave.

The website is full of perfume lovers tidbits. When ordering online or at the store, ask for Aedes’ signature floral gift-wrap. Each perfume is wrapped in a black gift-box, satin ribbon, and topped with fresh flowers.

By Morgan and Paul
9 Christopher Street
T-F: 11-8
Sat: 8:30-6:30
Sun: 12-6 (after Labor Day)

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Owners and partners Morgan and Paul opened a new edition to Christopher Street, L’atelier in May. L’atelier is a high-end salon without the snooty high-end vibe. Morgan offers his clients not only impeccable service, a friendly staff, and soothing music, but he’ll also offer you a glass of wine and great conversation. Having been through the Bumble and Bumble too cool for school mill, I loved the personal feel of this neighborhood salon. The dark wood flowers, white brick walls, black and white photos, and floral arrangements create a comfortable chic.

Morgan, who is as charming as he is handsome and deliciously French, has lived in New York for eight years, spending most of his life in Paris. He began training as a stylist when he was 14. He worked in salons in Paris and then went on to teach color for Jacques Desange, traveling all over Europe. Eight years ago, he moved to New York and worked for the Rubber Tree on Bleeker Street.

Morgan agreed to give me a complimentary service to help me write my article. After a shampoo and a clear gloss conditioner, he styled my hair and gave me a quick trim.

We chatted about life and European men and I even walked away with a few hair tips-such as: try washing your hair every other day if you can. Especially if you have fine hair, like mine. Just condition it if you need to for styling purposes.

In about 30 minutes, Morgan fixed my last bad haircut and transformed me into a polished diva. I made an appointment for my next cut right away and friends raved about my hair all night.

The salon uses L’Oreal Expert and Toni and Guy hair products. For color it’s Redkin and Framesi.

Cut: $80 and up
Color: $85-$200
Highlights: $80-$120
Makeup and Weddings: $90 and up.
Blow-dry: $45-$55
Conditioning Glaze: $45

L’atelier is sure to be a huge success.

10 Christopher Street
Store Hours:
Sat: 10:30-6:30
Sun: 12:30-5:30

Open for six years on Christopher Street, Gepetto’s owners Jerry and Chris received Zagat’s highest rating for the best toy store in the city. Named after Gepetto from the Pinocchio story, in which a wooden puppet becomes a real boy, Gepetto’s is a specialty store, focusing on crafts, dolls, wooden trains, plush toys, mermaid finger puppets, classic children’s books, educational games, old fashioned tops. The colorful store is easy to navigate for adults and magical for children. It’s like stepping into a children’s nursery in an old storybook. The best part? They don’t carry Barbie dolls, so your daughters can perhaps grow-up without the hipless , pointy-toed, big breasted, perm-grinned plastic companions of our youth, and instead, take childhood adventures with Babar and Paddington to the far corners of the earth.

13 Christopher Street
Store Hours
Mon-Sat: 12-8

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Albetine, opened by owner Kyung Lee two years ago, is filled with limited edition precious handmade jewelry and clothing by local and mostly American designers. I spent several hours in the store with the lovely and sweet Philippa who showed me around and pointed out their favorite designs.

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There is nothing pushy or pretentious about Albertine, with it’s small vintage couch in the center of the store, and a store design that changes colors with the seasons. The store itself is well organized with small quantities of handmade pieces as well as shoes, handbags and amazing jewelry. Seymour, their house brand, features vintage inspired shoes in metallic, snakeskin, and satin fabrics. These are limited edition, with only one of each size produced ($225-$265). The dresses and tops are sexy and understated.

My favorite pieces were:
Cristina Hatler’s(Miami) vintage lace tops ($295-$240), Luxury Jones'(LA) beige lace dropwaist dress for $205, Liz McClean’s tied dyed cotton and lace wrap shirts for $245, Andrea Brueckner’s(NY) clutches for $98, and modern dancer and costumer Nadia Tarr’s(NY) super slinky, always flattering on anyone dresses with adjustable ties in stretchy fabrics and colors ranging from turquioise to deep brown. They also carry the ever sexy and feminine Some Odd Rubies dresses and tops. Backless, simple, and show stopping.

The jewelry is maddening. You could spend hours in Albertine deciding which necklace to buy. Some of the best pieces by Liza: the Four Seasons series in gold ($325-$375), Sarah Orlin’s hammered gold pieces $360, Madame Fortuna’s antique and handmade charm necklaces, hot seller Jenny Sheriff’s gypsy necklace for $145 and the only foreigner in the lot: London’s Bex Rox teethy rocker necklaces $165-$185. And I’ve only skimmed the surface!

Albertine is a true find-I can’t wait to go back!

15 Christopher Street

Opened in 1967, Oscar Wilde is the oldest Gay and Lesbian Bookstore in the world. They carry lesbian and gay fiction and non-fiction, erotica, used and vintage books (a signed volume of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams for $3000), and favorite authors for all walks of life: David Sedaris, Armistead Maupin, and Truman Capote. They also have an impressive collection of DVDs ranging from the L-Word Box set to Far From Heaven, and the more recent film, Kinsey.

18 Christopher Street
Store Hours:
Mon-Sat: 12-6:30
Sun: 12-6

Everyone in the West Village seems to have a very small dog, which makes sense considering apartment sizes here in Manhattan and Petit Puppy can outfit your dog to a tee, or rather, with a tee-a doggy tee. They offer a small line of puppy-wear with sequined logos. The “Daddy’s single” logo speaks for itself. They are also some pint-sized doggies in the window for sale and exotic Egyptian and Himalayan cats lounging inside, looking very bored and very bohemian.

19 Christopher Street
Store Hours:
M-Sat: 12-8
Sun: 12-6

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Brooklyn Handknit began in Williamsburg, inspired by the exquisite knit-work of a group of women from Nepal. Janice and her husband Russell have opened their NYC store on Christopher Street (in addition to the store in South Hampton) featuring Brooklyn Handknit originals and American designers-lots of locals. The BHK croqueted pieces run $200-$250, bikinis are $160, all Alpaca pieces are 30% off and BHK bags made with vintage fabrics are between $120-$156.

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Other fun finds were the jaunty fedora’s by Lola for $120-now 30% off, Billy Kirk’s handcrafted leather unisex cuffs for $98, Louise Hedley’s a-line skirts made from vintage floral linens, handmade shoes from NYC and California, particularly Claudia’s Custom Shoes for $370, and my all time favorite: Juan Antonio Lopez and his sequined peep-toe shoes with electric blue suede heels for $305.

Their jewelry ranges from coral earrings by Wendy Mink for $102-$123 to inexpensive fruit earrings for $7.50 with a matching necklace for $28.

The store design is very Brooklyn: a little vintage, a little retro and very cool.

19 Christopher Street
Store Hours
Mon-Sat: 12-8

Claudine is the other half of Kyung Lee’s Albertine, just a few doors down. This smaller store was opened in December and offers more casual fare. They have more pieces by the amazing Nadia Tarr in jersey knits ($225), tees with original graphics and silk screening from $45-$75, and Kathy Kemps properly sexy sleeveless ruffle dress in pink and white pinstripes for $266.

There are also handbags, Madame Fortuna pieces, and original watercolors by local artist Ruby Palmer on sale for $475.

Kyung seems to love to support local designers and artists and clearly loves what she does, as does her friendly staff. Both stores maintain the feeling of having stepped into someone’s enormous walk-in closet full of handmade imaginative pieces, waiting for you to take them out for a spin.

19 Christopher Street
Store Hours:
Mon-Sat: 12-7
Sun: 1-6

David, a stone sculptor, opening e-lix-ir 10 years ago. He began by specializing in Native American art and jewelry, then introduced museum quality crystals for the home, and in it’s final phase he has brought in home furnishing and body care products to complete the mission of e-lix-ir, which is to encourage “wholeness”, by combining the functional with the spiritual to create home space that is aesthetically pleasing and spiritually nurturing.

Crystals are used for many purposes: decorative and spiritual. Some believe them to have healing properties and energies: bringing harmony, joy, protection, love, etc…Every crystal has a different healing property. A person mighht enter David’s store fixated on finding one type of crystal and they’ll leave with something entirely different. David will make suggestions, but ultimately he says, it’s the customer’s decision-he can’t tell them what they need-people need to trust themselves and not only when it comes to crystals. We are often attracted/drawn to what we really need, rather than what we think we need. Often, what we think we need is the result of inner critics and outside pressures.

In addition to the crystals, spheres, and stalactites, David’s store carries hand blown vases made in London ($650-$900), the cutest salt and pepper shakers I’ve ever seen-2 bull terriers each with a black and white eye in stainless steel for $80, MOR body products from Australia, and retro reasonably priced furniture from Red Vanilla.

His Native American pieces are museum worthy: Amber rings, turquoise necklaces and rings, and a 50 million year old bear tooth necklace strung with smuggler’s beads from the 30’s and celestial bone carvings. In Native American culture, the bear is a healing spirit.

Crystals may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a unique gift for someone who might need a little spiritual nudge in the right direction, check out e-lix-ir and David will be happy to help you out. He also gives private consultations.

The West Village, home of the Bohemians of the 20’s, the Beat Poets of the 1950’s, the folk music movement of the 60’s, and the gay rights movement of the 1970’s, remains charming and always interesting. The surrounding area is full of boutiques, cabarets, and eateries. Go out and support your local boutiques and salons this July. New York City is brimming with new talent and Christopher Street has it all.

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