Actor Phoebe Cates’s singularly chic Madison Avenue shop, Blue Tree, inspires major love. Patricia Marx counts the ways.
When I was a kid, I was crazy lucky to live within walking distance of a luncheonette that, according to a hand-painted sign in the window, served the World’s Best Coffee! Never mind that I despised coffee. I understood that someday I’d be a grown-up and imbibe it all day.
I’ve hit the jackpot again. Nowadays I live steps away from the World’s Best Boutique. And nobody needs a sign outside to know it. I am not saying this because Blue Tree belongs to my friend Phoebe Cates. No, this spot wins the best-boutique award the honest way, with the highest CS/SI (covetable stuff per square inch) quotient of any shop around. It also speaks to the collector’s urge awakened by visits to the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museums, around the corner on Fifth Avenue.
Here’s what I found at Blue Tree today that I truly cannot live without: exquisitely etched, pastel-tinted Lucite boxes; a black T-shirt with an appliquéd fork and spoon on its front and, around back, a slab of meat with the words juicy steak; hand-painted stockings with beaded seams; a lamp that looks like a really cool wire sculpture; all the shop’s pocketbooks…whoa, I am making myself sick with greed.
Blue Tree is a mom-and-pop store without the pop, though Phoebe does credit her husband, the actor Kevin Kline, with the name—a reference to the blue trees in Fauvist paintings. (We knew that, right?) After your spree, you and your purchases can check out Yura, across the street. They have pretty good coffee.
What books would you take to a desert island?
Remembrance of Things Past, Don Quixote, and, of course, the take-out menu from Sachi, because I’m going to want some sushi delivered.
Which makeup item?Only one allowed.
Eight Hour Cream, by Elizabeth Arden. I don’t plan to stay long.
Your favorite junk food for the plane ride?
Would you be willing to lose a little toe if, in exchange, those Twizzlers had no calories?
So you’re back from eight hours on the island. What’s the first thing on your to-do list?
Make an appointment with David Evangelista for a haircut. Cornelia Day Resort is the first telephone number on my speed dial.
Where will you celebrate your homecoming?
Pepolino. It’s so cozy, and there can’t be better Tuscan food anywhere else, even in Tuscany.
Do you like gardening?
I like it when other people do, especially the people at the New York Conservatory Garden.
It’s impossible to find a present for someone who owns a store. Any suggestions?