Walking into Henri Bendel’s jaw-dropping flagship on Fifth Avenue is like walking into a fairytale of luxury and lavishness. It's a dream of upscale accessories, fragrances, cosmetics, gifts, jewels, and any other pretty little glittering thing you can envision. Another reason to love Bendel's with the passion of a million shoppers? Efficiency. It's a one-stop shop for every accessory imaginable. You can locate items you never knew you needed but suddenly can't live without.
There is a glamourous history in Bendel's veins as well, with a reputation for catering to New York City’s society for over 100 years. Bendel's was established in 1895 by Henry Willis Bendel when he became the first retailer to brand himself and register his own trademark. Mr. Bendel was a milliner by trade, making and selling women’s hats. He moved to New York City with his wife, Blanche, after his millinery shop in Louisiana burned down. Opening a small shop in Greenwich Village, Henri set out to build one of the first lifestyle brands.
What began as a hat shop expanded to include custom-made dresses and catered to New York City’s wealthiest women. Henri Bendel soon expanded and opened a multistory luxury women’s store at 10 West 57th Street, the original of today’s Henri Bendel, which didn’t move to its location on Fifth Avenue until 1990. His company was destined to be iconic from the start, as he was the first to bring Coco Chanel’s designs from Paris to the United States.
The chocolate-brown and cream-striped shopping bags were introduced in 1907 and have endured as a symbol of taste and luxury. The brand has also managed to create an steadfast connection to art and artists, housing and fostering rising stars such as Andy Warhol, in the 1960s, and Izak Zenou, who now has his own line of Bendel accessories.
Henri Bendel stays true to its iconic roots and a tradition of introducing New York City’s tastemakers to what’s new and next through its semi-annual Open-See events. During Open-See, up-and-coming designers showcase their pieces to corporate buyers with the opportunity to be selected to participate in trunk shows or to be selected to actually grace Bendel's racks. This is yet another example of the enduring Bendel company culture and their brand promise of continued innovation and luxury. The company has stayed true to its founder’s original vision; a glittering playground always seeking to inspire, energize, and delight.
Want to VIVE up your summer accessories? Check out some Henri Bendel Pinspiration here!
Photography by Summer Shaw and Brianne Mahoney