Rene Jules Lalique was a renowned French glass designer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is best known for his jewelry and decorative arts which were designed primarily in the Art Nouveau style, and one of his architectural pieces can be found right here in New York City on the facade of Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue.
714 Fifth Avenue was constructed in 1908 and converted in 1910 by Francois Coty into an emporium for his perfume. In 1912, Coty commissioned Lalique to replace part of the facade with an elegant three story work of art. Lalique designed a set of windows depicting interlocking vines and flowers.
In 1985, developers proposed building a tower on Fifth Avenue that potentially involved the demolition of the Coty Building, along with its neighbors. The Municipal Arts Society and other community organizations rallied to save the Coty building and in 1985 it designated a landmark by the city. The proposed tower was constructed, and ultimately, resulted only in the demolition of 716 Fifth Avenue, a few doors down. The Coty Building’s landmark designation was largely due to the presence of the Lalique windows. When Henri Bendel moved into the building in 1990 they oversaw the restoration of the windows. Currently, the windows are one of the many privately owned public spaces in the city, which is denoted by a plaque with a tree on the building’s facade.