“Someone once said that if Diana Vreeland had a daughter, this is what her room would look like,” said designer Richard Ives of Pilgrim, the new Lower East Side store he co-owns with Brian Bennett. “It’s a little bohemian, it’s for the uptown meets downtown girl.”
The Orchard Street boutique, which opened the last week of May, is like two stores in one. The front portion is home to the ready-to-wear collection of vintage inspired pieces that Ives designs himself. Retailing for a reasonable $85 to $310, the line is comprised of silk charmeuse dresses and blouses, draped wool jersey separates, and plenty of transparent pieces that are perfect for layering.
“I see this paired with clunky, edgy shoes. It’s for a girl about town in the winter,” Ives holds up a washed wool sleeveless empire waist dress from his fall collection, “I design clothes that are pretty and utilitarian at the same time.”
For the fall, Ives was inspired by Halston and early Calvin Klein (with a little Tina Chow mixed in), as well as the Cambridge-bound Israeli architect next door who’s leaving New York to teach her craft at Harvard. “We keep collaborating on what would be good for her to wear and what makes sense for someone who’s in front of a bunch of college students. She wants to look chic and cool but she doesn’t want look too out of place,” Ives said of his unlikely inspiration.
Wander to the second half of the store and you will find a well-edited vintage collection with standout pieces like a Lanvin floor length velvet evening gown, a Balenciaga sheath dress, or even a bright purple polyester Yves Saint Laurent pencil skirt (and for those who can pull it off — a fantastic pair of dramatically high-waisted, harem-esque pants in the same hue). Prices for vintage start at just $30, the most expensive designer pieces topping out at about $350.
Décor-wise, the eclectic furnishings meticulously handpicked by Ives and Bennett include 20th century abstract paintings, 4th century ceramic pots, bronze Buddhas, and zebra print tea chairs. There are also rugs from South America, a smattering of coffee table books, handmade soaps, and Vogues autographed by Richard Avedon (whom Ives used to work with) and Cindy Crawford. The 70’s chrome display cubes interspersed among the apparel have plenty of vintage jewelry and sunglasses, and the two owners have even commissioned a candlemaker in Iowa to create their own brand of candles to be sold exclusively at the store.
Ives and Bennett are veterans in the fashion and art worlds. Before opening their first retail store in Woodstock, New York together several years ago, Ives’ had stints at both Ellen Tracy and Donna Karan, and he also worked at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His foundation is more rooted in design, whereas Bennett, formerly an agent for fashion photographers and directors for nearly two decades, worked in non-profit art fundraising for Sotheby’s and Christies. Bennett is also the founder of Lamprecht & Bennett, a creative photo agency.
Pilgrim, 70 Orchard Street, 212-463-7720