By Nicole Breskin
UPPER EAST SIDE — Couture house Yves Saint Laurent will become the latest retailer to shutter its Madison Avenue digs as Manhattan's economy continues to struggle to shake the recession.
The classic French fashion brand's first foreign store, housed at 855 Madison Ave., will close its doors on Saturday, a source confirms to DNAinfo. New York retail for the brand will now operate out of one store at 3 E. 57th St.
“The store was where it all began for a lot of people,” said former YSL employee Eugene Matthews. “This is a clear sign that things are changing.”
Madison Avenue, until recently a beloved shopping strip for the super-rich, has been riddled by closures since the recession started. Where just a couple of years ago the world's luxury brands were rushing to open flagship stores, now empty storefronts stretch across blocks in Midtown East and the Upper East Side.
E&J Frankel Oriental Art at 1040 Madison Avenue, which was founded in 1967, closed just over a month ago. High-end electronics shop Sharper Image closed last year at 900 Madison Ave, where the spot is still vacant.
“Everything has changed,” said Christian Dior sales associate Manny Ferrer. “High-end clients are definitely holding back. This simply means most companies have to downsize.”
Ferrer added that his existing customers often ask for nondescript paper bags to hold purchases, opting out of a logo-emblazoned Christian Dior tote that had once been a source of pride.
“It’s a new psychology of poverty,” said Ferrer, who had been with Gucci prior to Dior. “It’s a sign of the times.”
But Ferrer said the Dior spot on 21 E. 57th St. – which is down the block from the second YSL location – has the advantage of being a main thoroughfare for tourists looking to take advantage of a weak U.S. dollar.
Ainara Martinez, a Lower East Side resident, was one of the few people window-shopping along Madison Avenue Monday.
“The YSL closure is a sad thing for fashion," Martinez said, "and it’s sad that it’s happening before Christmas when people might actually spend.”