A Bit of Punctuation

Benjamin Schwarz in The Atlantic Monthly:

Tedmuehling Ted Muehling: A Portrait of His Work by Don Freeman by Sarah Yelavich.
South, below Grand Street and just above Canal — beyond the scene at the Mercer Hotel and at Balthazar, beyond those transplants from uptown (Prada, Bloomingdale’s, the MoMA store, the Guggenheim), past the chain stores and the weekend throngs and those “galleries” that remain — SoHo quiets down into a calmer, still-bohemian enclave (or at least a semi-bohemian one). There, tucked on a short stretch of the four-block, semi-hidden Howard Street — reportedly the last street in Manhattan to get streetlights — cluster some of the city’s most discerning specialty stores. Two are long-established anachronisms: E. Vogel, which has been making riding boots and men’s shoes by hand since 1879; and the Putnam Rolling Ladder Company, which has been building library ladders since 1905. Two came recently: the winningly inventive Opening Ceremony, selling pioneering, quirky international fashion — long black Brazilian capes, finely knitted German undershirts — by designers and manufacturers you’ve almost certainly never heard of; and De Vera, a sort of hyper-curated flea market — a Wunderkammer, really — where necklaces made from ancient intaglios are displayed in artfully crammed vitrines alongside antique opium pipes and Victorian mourning jewelry.

And then there’s the small, high-ceilinged store that serves as the magnet for newer boutiques — an ethereal place that draws the great fashion designer Narcisco Rodriguez when, he told me, “I need some peace or an inspirational jolt,” a store whose subdued atmosphere, invariably described as “magical,” is accentuated by the intermittent ting of a jeweler’s hammer from the studio in the back. This is the shop and workroom of Ted Muehling, whose jewelry and decorative objects have for 32 years been venerated among his fanatically devoted customers, a group that includes the most discriminating figures in the world of fashion and design. “Ted has the most refined aesthetic of any person I know, period,” says Sally Singer, Vogue‘s fashion news/features director. “I’ve never heard anyone say his work is other than perfection.”

More here.