Fashionable at the best of times, The Plaza New York’s latest collaboration with British designer Rachel Riley will ensure young visitors stride out in a sartorial style that a certain little madam would most certainly approve of.
The imposing façade of The Plaza, presiding proudly at the corner of Manhattan’s swanky Fifth Ave and Central Park South, is an impressive sight to behold. Awarded Landmark Of New York City status by the NY Community Trust, and immortalised in numerous films including Breakfast At Tiffany’s, The Great Gatsby, Barefoot In The Park and Home Alone 2, the hotel’s glamorous reputation is second to none.
The first time my daughter Grace, then five, set eyes on it in real life, she couldn’t quite hide her disappointment. “Well, it’s not quite what I expected,” she sighed. To me, lit up in a golden glow of floodlights with a rich red carpet stretching out onto the sidewalk, The Plaza was oozing with luxurious opulence. So why Grace’s hesitation? “It’s just that it doesn’t really look like in the book,” she frowned. “I thought it would be, you know, red and white stripes.”
Like many girls of a certain age, Grace’s passion for Kay Thompson’s Eloise, the “rawther” precocious six-year-old who found fame in the eponymous picture book set in New York’s Plaza, was at its peek. The thought of a little girl with a frisky pug called Weenie and a turtle called Skipperdee for pets, had the run of an entire hotel, tickled her fancy (and it’s no coincidence that the kids-living-in-hotel genre has been a popular comedy premise borrowed by children’s television-makers ever since).
First published back in 1955, and now celebrating its 60th anniversary, the first Eloise book was published in the two-colour print of the era – hence Grace’s expectation of a red-and-white building.
The plush interior of The Plaza never fails to delight. The glitzy gilded mirrors and chandeliers twinkle like diamonds and besuited bell-boys scurry across super-shiny marble floors, proffering smiling
salutions to one and all
Recognising that Eloise is a big pull – for all ages – the Plaza created The Eloise Suite in her honour in 2010. Designed by celebrated fashion designer Betsey Johnson in the most flamboyant of kitsch styles complete with glittering chandelier, candy-striped wall panels and Eloise’s name scrawled in neon lights on the wall, it’s now the dream New York stopover for fans of the book.
As you’d expect, Eloise was always impeccably turned out, and now little girls can have a taste of her sartorial style with a gorgeous new collection by British fashion designer Rachel Riley, as beloved by the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Plaza New York is an absolute favourite. And Eloise? Love, love, love her! Rachel Riley? A big mwah. Put all three together and, quite frankly, a gal has landed in Fashion Heaven
The collection is part of the year-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of Kay Thompson’s Eloise at The Plaza, with dresses, separates, pyjamas and outerwear inspired by the whimsical illustrations by Hilary Knight that capture the mischievous personality of one of the world’s most beloved characters in children’s literature.
You’ll find the spirit of Eloise lurking everywhere at The Plaza. From her colourful portrait adorning the wall outside her favourite eating place The Palm Court (where you can enjoy the sumptuous delights of an Eloise Afternoon Tea complete with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and strawberries dipped in pink chocolate washed down with pink lemonade) to the range of character merchandise on sale in The Plaza Gift Shop.
Other signature events include Eloise Ballet/Yoga Classes, Eloise Cooking Classes and Holiday Dance Parties. There’s also plenty of special activities going on throughout the year to celebrate her very special 60th anniversary.
And no little girl can leave the Plaza without one rite of passage: gazing upon Eloise’s dainty patent shoes. Just ask at the front desk and the said footwear will be produced for inspection! And very nice and shiny they are too.
Designer details Founded in 1994, award-winning Rachel Riley is the British luxury brand for children. Rachel’s design philosophy is rooted in her traditional lifestyle and draws inspiration from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties with fine tailoring, beautiful hand smocking, hand embroidery and vintage-inspired prints designed by and exclusive to the brand. Rachel Riley is most recently acclaimed for designing outfits worn by the children of Britain’s elite, particularly Prince George, which has made her lines wildly popular. In fact, the Rachel Riley outfit the young prince wore to his sister’s christening subsequently sold out within a matter of hours.