In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers in and around New York and finds out more about their lives and careers. This week, Clara speaks with fashion designer and founder of Bibelot and NYC Private Shopping Tour, Barbara Hodes.
NYC Private Shopping Tour grew out of Barbara’s passion for exploring stores all over the world. She has been a fashion lover and designer of her brand, Bibelot, for many years. Her newest venture is an opportunity to share her favorite stores and culture of New York – from luxe ultra-cool designer shops to couture and funky vintage, indie and street wear designers. More than just clothing though, NYC Private Shopping Tour includes visits to amazing specialty food and lifestyle stores, as well as the best men’s and children’s stores and the many markets the city has to offer.
The tours are tailored lifestyle experiences, which are aimed at helping people chose what is absolutely right for them.
Says Barbara: “I love sharing the shopping and culture of New York, and helping people find their New York, one that they never knew existed.”
Read more about Barbara’s secret New York spots in this week’s Q&A.
Barbara Hodes; Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Hornstein
1. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to work in the industry and business you are in?
I started to design and make clothing when I was at Cornell College of Architecture and Art. After spending a summer running my own small clothing store in the Village – where I made all the clothes – I transferred to Parsons School of Design. I started selling my designs while I was at Parsons to all the best stores in NYC. New York and fashion are my thing.
2. Any celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you want to share?
I have a clients who live and own hotels outside the US. They came to me to help them find interesting fabrics so they could make new uniforms for their hotel staff that would reflect the brand. I took them to the Garment District. They were blown away by all that was available. We found fabulous prints, and I arranged to get them printed. When the prints were ready, I arranged the shipping and the uniforms turned out to be truly one-of-a-kind.
3. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?
If I am not doing tours, I am out exploring all of New York. It changes every day. New York has it all: so many museums, galleries, markets and fairs. Never a dull moment.
4. What is the next big thing in your industry? What are people doing differently today, compared to 10-15 years ago?
People are looking for experiences. Shopping has to be entertaining, and stores that can provide that extra “something” become a destination. It is my job to find those places. For example, start with Dover Street Market, then go to Patron of the New, followed by a stop at La Garçonne.
5. What are your three favorite restaurants in New York?
The Polo Bar for uptown atmosphere, Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg, and Mamo for Italian.
6. What are your three favorite bars in New York?
Salon de Ning at the Peninsula, especially in the summer; wonderful views from the terrace over midtown NY and you feel like you are in Shanghai in the 1930s.
Fig 19 – a speakeasy hidden in an art gallery. Amazing cocktails.
And Night of Joy in Williamsburg; it is off the beaten path with a wonderful louche decor. All these places are very clubby and different.
7. What are your three favorite locations to visit in New York?
The Battery Park area and the streets that are on the waterfront in downtown Manhattan. There you can really feel the openness of the New York Harbor and understand why New York is the city at the center of the world.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Museum are my favorite Brooklyn spots.
Lastly, the NY Public Library on 42nd Street. It has the most amazing interiors.
8. Which three events on your annual calendar will you will absolutely not miss?
Going away for Thanksgiving. We go to many different places for Thanksgiving–this year to Acapulco, Rome last year, and have been to Paris, Mexico City and St Barth as well. Always to see friends.
Christmas in New York. I love to cook Christmas dinner and we have always done a “strays” Christmas dinner for friends.
And eating too many pigs in blankets at all the wonderful Christmas parties I go to.
9. What was your best New York moment? Your worst?
My first summer in NY. I met Andy Warhol and had a great time at the Factory. It was a wonderful introduction to art and fashion in New York.
The worst was seeing the Twin Towers fall down.
10. Tell us something that people do not know about you. (And you cannot say it is a secret!)
I have too many shoes – but then you can never have too many shoes. I love all kinds of shoes except platforms and really high heels. New and vintage. I have about 200 pairs. I wish I had more space so I could have more!
11. How would you describe your personal style?
New York eclectic.
12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?
Designer Charles James – I was lucky enough to know him. I met Charles when I was starting out. He is the most influential couturier that ever worked in America. He was a friend and a mentor. He fit garments on me, let me borrow his clothes, and taught me everything I know about fashion. He is a true original. The Met show proved that. When you wear Charles James you feel embraced by the elegance and fit of the clothes.
I find style inspiration from nature and the streets.
13. Who is your favorite fashion designer, artist or architect – and why?
Fashion designer Rick Owens. He designs his world in his own way. See the new store on Howard Street. Amazing.
14. Name your favorite… and tell us why:
I don’t have a favorite outfit. I like change. I keep my clothes forever and I am always pulling something out of storage and putting it back in rotation.
I don’t wear perfume.
Anything by Alfred Hitchcock because his movies are iconic and they hold up. And he pops up in every one. He had a decidedly different type of imagination from other filmmakers. I found a copy of the Paris Vogue he guest edited. The magazine kept his same vision.
d. TV show.
I don’t really watch TV.
Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. I have been re-reading it in bits and pieces since I was a child. It’s not a children’s book.
15. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?
Le Caprice in London. It’s like a club. You never know who will be there, but it is always interesting and the menu is always changing. As long as they keep the duck salad I will be happy. They are doing Thanksgiving this year!
16. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?
La Colombe d’Or in Saint Paul de Vence, South of France, is my favorite hotel. Especially at Christmas when there is a roaring fire in the fireplace. It is great in the summer too. The ultimate luxury is simplicity, which is what’s great about Saint Paul de Vence. La Colombe d’Or’s art collection is one of the great travel secrets of the world. You live with 20th century art masterpieces.
17. Which three items can you not live without?
My dog Agrippina – an adorable Westie [West Highland white terrier], Julius Meinl coffee in the morning, blue skies and sunshine.
18. What song, meditation or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?
Lou Reed – “Walk on the Wild Side.” I knew all of them: Lou, Holly, Candy, and Jacky.
19. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?
I wish I could have met Paul Poiret. He lived in a very special place and time and changed fashion. A friend of mine did know him and told me how special he was.
20. Is there anything else you would like to share, discuss or promote?
Please visit my website for more information (www.NYCPrivateShoppingTour.com) or follow me on Instagram @NYCPrivateShoppingTour.
Lead-In Image Courtesy of NYC Private Shopping Tour; Photo of Barbara Hodes Courtesy of Jeffrey Hornstein