There are silk scarves and then there are sculptured silk scarves that serve as wearable art.
The stores where you are most likely to see amazing wearable art in New York are Bergdorf Goodman, whose entire first floor is a trove of stunningly beautiful accessories, and Saks 5th Avenue. Bergdorf Goodman’s scarves are priced between $200 (rare) and $800 (more likely) and Saks, a relative steal at between $150 and $400.
No matter what prices, however, you should explore these two fine stores to acquaint yourself with the concept of luxury, beauty, and high quality service. So informed, then visit Génesté Soho, a small boutique on Thompson Street in Soho New York City.
Geneste Soho is owned and operated by the French family who also owns Chanille, a fine porcelain company in France. Chanille is famous for its limoges boxes, art deco jewelry, and pewter clocks and inkwells of the type you might see in up-scale hotel gift shops.
Co-owner Anny deChazal, pictured here, expanded their offerings in their Soho store to include sculptured silk scarves, jewelry, perfume and other unusual items. As a French woman, she knows how important it is to be beautiful and unique, so she prides herself in offering one-of-a-kind selections.
On the day I visited, a couple came in who had obviously been there before. The girl went straight for one of Geneste’s lush, multi-layered scarves, wrapping it around her neck, and her companion blushed with joy as he paid for it. Even though they were dressed casually, the scarf did not leave her neck when they left!
Mrs. de Chazal, in her soft French accent, loves helping people find just the right scarf or jewelry. Because the scarves are so unusual, you may need guidance on how to wear them. Just ask and Ms. de Chazal will model everything for you. She’ll also adjust the scarves on your body so that you better understand their texture and flow.
Prices are very reasonable, with ranges satisfying almost every budget. Small items start at $15, with the high-end between $90 and $230. That said, you’ll find a wide-range of exclusive items, such as French enamel jewelry, between $40 and $50. These include hundreds of enameled pins with themes such as animals, tiny bugs, flowers, art deco designs, and masks.
Strangely, even though Chanille owns the store, the limoges boxes are not emphasized. If you are not acquainted with this type of art, however, you should come to Geneste just to find out more about them.
For all the sophistication of the scarves and jewelry, these miniature boxes are cartoon-like, with themes such as bathtubs, umbrellas, drum sets, golf clubs, hats, trunks, shoes, TV cabinets, slot machines, castles, TV sets, and Mt. Rushmore . . . Each one opens in an unusual way and often contains tiny figures that relate to the theme. The New York Big Apple, for example, holds a little yellow cab. They make interesting gifts and are most certainly collectable.
I think you’ll love the place. Although small, you can spend a lot of time looking at individual items in addition to trying on scarves (although once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop). Best, its neighboring shops are equally unique and reasonably priced, with many excellent restaurants nearby.
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 5/20/2004. All rights reserved