July 27, 2015
Rizzoli Bookstore reopens with windows designed by André Leon Talley
by Nick Davies
When Rizzoli Bookstore closed last year, there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Its space on 57th Street in Manhattan was iconic, with high ceilings, a beautiful chandelier, and a a wealth of art books lining its shelves. The owners of the building—the Vornado Realty Trust and the Lefrak family—decided to demolish the building (and the ones next to it) in order to make room for a high-rise, and after an ill-fated campaign to gain historical landmark status for the building, Rizzoli had to vacate and move into a new location near the Flatiron Building.
Today, the new Rizzoli officially opens its doors, at 1133 Broadway, and they still intend to capture “the classic architectural experience for which the former bookstore locations were celebrated,” per their website. To that end, the store has brought on a big name in fashion to design their windows: André Leon Talley. A fixture at fashion shows, cape enthusiast, and former editor-at-large for Vogue, Talley writes for the fashion magazine about the experience of putting together the windows and putting his own inimitable spin on them.
Talley writes that he was approached by Charles Miers, publisher and vice president for Rizzoli, to arrange the windows for this week’s grand reopening, with only ten weekdays to complete them. After an on-site meeting at the space—still in the midst of construction—Talley set about selecting books and designs to fill the space. First on his agenda was shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, whose new book, Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions, will be published by Rizzoli this fall. Talley writes glowingly about the book, and the world travels (and name-dropping encounters) that inspire Blahnik’s design, as well as their mutual love of books and Rizzoli in particular: “That’s how aligned Blahnik, books, and I truly are. He and I also share a great passion for Rizzoli, and, when in town, we would often walk over to the store and select volumes for him to take back to London, or for me to put in shopping bags to take home.”
As for the books featured in the windows, Talley compiled a list of some of his favorites “to stack in the windows the way my books at home are—in neat piles on the floor, in corners, in chairs, and on ceramic elephants.” As if that’s just a usual thing! for people to put piles of books on the various ceramic elephants they have in their homes. The titles that Talley cites as particularly wanting to feature at Rizzoli include books by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Truman Capote, Frederick Douglass, Gustave Flaubert, Leo Tolstoy, and Andy Cohen (a luminary who totally belongs on a list with the rest of these authors).
It’s amusing to poke fun at Talley—and his quest for a faux Marie Antoinette chaise—but the driving principle behind his design is unassailable: “The overall idea? To convey a love of book-hoarding, and to create the sense of warmth and comfort that stacks of books give to an individual. What better way to get inspired than by reading them all: biographies, novels, classics.”
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.