Things got worse south of 54th, Dan realized as he crossed 5th Avenue, looking downtown. There was Gucci, Fortunoff, Fendi.
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... a slim woman with short orange hair, glasses so dark as to appear black, wearing a severely rectangular, chalk-stripped, gray flannel suit entered Gucci. He supposed she looked the type.
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Dan paused to look at one of Gucci’s window displays: black dresses over purple tights, all with slit necklines, one down to the waist, but fastened at the neck with a silver clasp. Ideal for a woman with a modest bust who wanted to exude more than a little sex appeal at a cocktail party.
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There was Takashimaya, the fancy Japanese department store, little rounded red awnings pushing out over the sidewalk at the store’s two entrances. When Dan was in Japan, Takashimaya had always been the safest place to purchase a present for one’s host – the wrapping on the gift more important than the contents of the package.
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Elizabeth Arden sat next to the Japanese emporium. Would women heading home to Gerritsen Beach or Starratt City stop in there? Maybe. It was sufficiently familiar to be unintimidating, but what about Kenzara Clothing? Corner location, expensive rent. Unfamiliar brand, surely a non-starter for Gerritsen Beach, Dan surmised, making judgments solely on the sound of the names
Plenty of places for Manhattan’s grit to lodge in the fussy, decorative touches
The University Club – “members and guests only, appropriate attire required.” Wonderful word: “appropriate.” So prescriptive yet so flexible – intimidating and accommodating at the same time. Dress code enforced by a certain look and a catch of the throat; waived by a wink and a nod?
Resuming his progress, Dan passed under scaffolding, its thick, lower legs freshly painted dark blue. The Rockefeller Apartments, favored by people in the arts and entertainment. That’s what Gloria had said last night. Apparently getting a facelift.
Parked along the curb was a white van with blue livery: Disalvo Contracting Co.; Restorations and Renovations of Fine Luxury Residences Since 1977. On the apartment steps a young woman wearing a sweatshirt sat smoking. As she scowled at Dan, he looked away and unconsciously quickened his step.
Where the scaffolding ended, the architecture was older, more interesting. It was also quieter near the middle of the block and Dan experienced a sense of serenity. He’d forgotten how the racket of the city took its toll, even when one wasn’t annoyed by it
Dan could now again see across the street where a huge, white, eighteen-wheeler – devoid of any markings -- stood alongside MOMA. An exhibition was coming or going. Best to transport valuable art as anonymously as possible. Just beyond the rig stood a hot dog cart, tended by a man in a warm-up jacket and a ball cap.
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Looking to his left, Dan saw a window displaying a few pair of women’s shoes. No signage apparent. A store with no name? He slowed his steps and looked around more carefully. Embedded in the brick wall, a very small brass plaque said simply “Manolo Blahnik.” ...
Finally it came to him – Marcy – some episode from “Sex and the City” – that woman with the frizzy hair liked those shoes. She was obsessed by them, actually.
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Dan’s thoughts were bouncing between Blahnik, art and marketing.
Flags everywhere around here, he realized. Nothing new. Childe Hassam.
The Thai Grill and Sushi Bar was now on Dan’s left, its narrow yellow awning running above the establishment’s door and windows.