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Those of us who always want to buy a greeting card with a unique touch, something more than the mass market drugstore missive, know about the Papyrus stationary stores that dot the city. These little shops seem to be conveniently located just when you need a last minute card, as you rush through Grand Central on your way to your train, or as you head to the gym on the Upper West Side or to meet a friend for lunch in midtown. Papyrus never disappoints, whether you want your message to be wry, ironic, cynical, uplifting, witty, outright comical or simply sublime, you will find the right card at a Papyrus store. The custom of sending greeting cards began with the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages of good will to celebrate the New Year, and then with the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on Papyrus scrolls. Hence the origin of the name of this particular stationary store chain. It may seem outdated, but it is actually very nice to receive a greeting in the mailbox and not the inbox. Papyrus also stocks gift wrap, ribbon, gifts of all kinds, including the adorable line of plush animals from Jellycat.

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  • A couple of years ago, a table laden with lushly baroque gems appeared in the boutiques, all the bling sparkling beneath a silhouette of a unicorn. The collection is called Niquea. D, and includes earrings, cuffs, rings, chokers, necklaces, bracelets and many other sparkly items. The human eye was attuned to shiny objects long ago, when our ancestors were on the lookout for the sparkle of the sun on a body of water, and glittery stuff still has the power to capture the gaze immediately, and the baubles of Niquea. D are tailor made for that effect. And the good news for the cult of fans that has grown for this brand is that there are now two flagship stores featuring loads more of the Niquea. D treasures. The little corner table has expanded to include home decor, candles, perfumes and perfume bottles, antiques and even a line of couture dresses that are unique to Niquea. D.

    Papyrus' line of stationary stores was founded in 1951, by Marcel and Margrit Schurman, out of their apartment in Berkeley, California. Their stationary empire grew over the years, and in 1999, they turned the business over to their youngest daughter, Dominique. Dominique's grandmother, Louisa Giachetti, called her by the nickname, Niquea, and it stuck. Dominique has said that her grandmother's "positive and remarkable view of the world embodies the essence of what we express with the Niquea. D brand...elegance, style, originality, and glamour." Her grandmother's spirit certainly does seem to preside over the shops, which are distinguished by an old world, European sensibility. The two stores, one of Third Avenue and the other on Hudson Street in the Meatpacking District, are like carbon copies of a sitting room at the palace of Versailles. Ceilings are trimmed in rococo gold leaf embellishments and elaborate crystal chandeliers hang low in the center of the boutique. There is a bar, the sort that one might sidle up to in a hotel on the Lido in Venice or in the sultry quarters of Paris. Victorian busts perch on marble tabletops dripping with rhinestones and crystals and silver and gold. There are beautifully upholstered sofas with tables full of lush art and photography books, vintage porcelain statues, elaborate silver serving utensils, tiny silver bowls and elaborate light fixtures and candelabra.

    Walking into one of the two Niquea. D stores is like stepping off the stultifying Manhattan streets right into a Proustian daydream. They seem to be more than gifts shops, offering a sanctuary of genteel calm in the midst of the madding crowds. The first location opened a few months ago on Third Avenue and 77th Street, and the second opened at 678 Hudson Street just before Christmas. This location, in the heart of the city's trendy Meatpacking District, is split to house a Papyrus store on one side and the Niquea. D collection of accessories, handbags, home decor, candles, perfumes, soaps, dresses, antiques and books on the other. This is the first Papyrus store for the neighborhood, and it is a boon for guests of the popular Soho House and the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC Hotel that is across the street.

    Niquea. D threw an opening day party right before Christmas, and to mark the occasion, featured a performance by the up and coming young American Country singer/songwriter, Imaj. Imaj was chosen as the Fall 2013 Muse for Niquea. D by an online Facebook poll, and she accompanied herself on the guitar and performed a few songs from her 2012 self titled release, "Imaj". Imaj is also a published author, whose novel, "Harlow" is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com as well as a visual artist and humanitarian. She was born and raised in Miami to her model mother and actor father, Philip Michael Thomas, best known as Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs on "Miami Vice." Imaj's vocal style blends traditional, folk, bluegrass, Beatles-pop and operatic war cries with a wide and deep vocal range. She has been nicknamed the "Country Darling" by her fans, and she joins Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lady Gaga as a huge fan of the Niquea. D brand.

    Niquea. D

    1335 3rd Avenue

    New York, NY 10075

    212 774 1935

    678 Hudson Street

    New York, NY 10014

    212 524 3298

    www.niquead.com

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