Have high-end clothing stores turned into museums?


A recent NYT article compared luxury department stores right now to museums: the merchandise is on display, but people aren't touching anything.

I wanted to see if there was any truth to this, so I set out for Henri Bendel in New York. Now a trip to Bendels even before the recession is like a trip to the museum, anywhere from the gold leaf detailing on the powder room door to the rich marble elevators. I feel like I'm entering into another time period each time I walk through their heavy, ornate doors.

On one floor a room full of staggered mannequins wore Herve Leger dresses, not a real person in site. The dancing mannequins were displayed like a retrospective exhibit on the craft of the bondage dress, minus the multi-thousand dollar price tags. A corner on the ground floor sold Blair Waldorf headbands priced in the double and triple digits. The bright rainbow of bands were artistically displayed, appealing to the color we need in our recessionista lives. Meanwhile, the saleswoman was on the lookout for customers.