Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Two Quirky Shops on the Upper East Side – Creel & Gow, Hayward House

July 26th, 2016
Upper East Side, Manhattan

If you’re wandering through Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side on the lookout for something eye-catching, unusual and very much one-of-a-kind then amble over to East 70th street between Park and Lexington avenues. There, on  a quiet, tree-lined residential street sits a charming boutique in what was once the stables to prominent architect Grosvenor Atterbury’s townhouse.

Creel & Gow is  a delightful shop, a cabinet of curiosities owned by two avid collectors – Paris-based Jamie Creel


and former Sotheby’s expert and transplanted Brit Christopher Gow .


The morsel-sized shop  packs a big punch with exotic nature-based accessories from such far-flung corners of the globe as North Korea, Colombia and Timbuktu.


Looking for a Nigerian headdress to wow your friends?  My sister thinks her bridge group will be green with envy.


Or perhaps a Mayan loin cloth? Or both? Together!


We always come back and put things with feathers or textiles in the deep freeze for a month to kill all eggs and things, reassures Gow.

This taxidermic moose below with its antlers carved in Bali would inject some punch into any fireplace …


Creel & Gow is porn for globetrotters, especially if the friendly owners are in town and not scouring the world for exotic finds to bring home. They admit they are both obsessed with travel.

Gow estimates he’s been to 180 countries, 17 this year alone including Guam, Eritrea and Easter Island.  What’s still on his list? Papua New Guinea, Libya, Chad, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

My wanderlust drives me to countries that are difficult to reach or not the usual places tourists visit … As time goes by I come back more and more empty-handed as the world seems to be shrinking and the original factor or the quality factor is lacking.

While Gow laments how much harder it is to unearth original treasures, it’s hard to tell that by browsing in the shop. Boredom is not an option.

This taxidermic zebra from South Africa commands centre stage …


Some hand-loomed placemats from Bhutan required Gow to sip not one, but two cups of  rancid yak butter tea to seal the deal.

Brown and Blue

Creel, just back from Sumba, Indonesia, shipped some pig sticks to 70th Street. Of course. Next stop Tangiers and Mozambique.

Who knows what finds Creel & Gow will next pack in their carry-on?

Smack next door to Creel & Gow is Hayward House, a luxurious shop on the first floor of  Grosvenor Atterbury’s arts & crafts mansion. Launched by Marin Hopper in tribute to her star-studded parents – actor, photographer,  general Hollywood legend and bad boy Dennis Hopper and the glamorous, chic actress, writer Brooke Hayward. The shop is divided into two parts, yin and yang,

mother …


father …


The Hayward section carries gorgeous python, alligator and crocodile hand bags  made at Hayward Finesse, a Manhattan-based factory on 33rd street that ranks as the longest family-operated handbag factory in the U.S.



On the other side of the shop is the macho Hopper menswear side …


with iconic photographs, Stetson hats, menswear and jewellery. The Dodge hat below is a collaboration between Stetson and Hopper. Below is Hayward manager Jimmy Broadlick modelling the look …


This hip copper jewellery


is designed by the just as hip Brooklyn-based designer Burkindy from Burkina, Faso in West Africa.


Definitely ask to use the loo. The educational wallpaper is lined with a famous friends (Jane Fonda and Jack Nicholson to name a few) and family-tree wallpaper. All the bathroom reading material one could possible desire.


July, 2016