A few years ago, in the middle of a snowstorm, I took a new-to-NYC friend to the Frick Collection. By the time we left, jaded, the UES was dark and slushy. “I think we have time for the soap museum, it’s not far!” I said, and dragged her toward Lexington Avenue. She was relieved when I stopped in front of Pasteur Pharmacy’s Mason & Pearson–themed storefront, studded with bars of Claus Porto. The pharmacy, which also has a branch in Murray Hill, is what shopping in Manhattan should be: gloriously overfilled, with aisles only one person can comfortably negotiate. Layers of merchandise obscure other layers, including European brands your European friends haven’t seen in years. Stout razors with faux-ivory handles. Shaving brushes not just for the First Valentine’s Day Since Moving in Together but for the person who has never thought of using anything else. Brands to satisfy the Downton-nostalgic and readers of Elizabeth Jane Howard: Penhaligon, Geo. F. Trumper, Grether’s Pastilles. Scent names on plain labels: Eucris, Cedrat, Portugal, Skye. A dozen different Bay Rums, an actual bar of alum. Crammed on the shelves with everything else, the delicate script of Santa Maria Novella. Pasteur’s rewards anyone delighted by excess, while living up to the “discount” on the price tags, and carries travel sizes of everything from Oribe to Elnett. By the register, even the lip balm bounty threatens to overwhelm. What is a “refreshing lip cream”? A “mountain secret” pastille? Budget intervening, I paid for my wavy-to-curly hair care and stepped out onto the sidewalk, happy.
806 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, 212-838-2500
53 East 34th Street, Manhattan, 212-683-3838