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Manhattan's most stylish library
The Albright Fashion Library

Before Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow or Steal, there was Irene Albright's Fashion Library.

Founded in 1990--when the former fashion stylist had a surplus of gowns and Manolos from photo shoots past--Albright invented the concept of luxury on loan by renting her couture at 10 percent of its retail value. Today her Library is a celebrity-and-stylist haven known for its fastidiously edited head-to-toe looks.

With a sprawling new space in Cooper Square, it's easier than ever to browse the awe-inspiring compendium of couture. Albright has alphabetized her beautifully preserved vintage and modern pieces, starting with beaded Alaïa skirts and floral Balenciaga dresses up front, and jeweled Lanvin sheaths and fiery Valentino gowns toward the back.

A to-die-for shoe section features carefully arranged Jimmy Choo pumps, outlandish McQueen booties and virtually every Manolo Blahnik imaginable. Next to the shoes are cases of stunning costume jewelry, Nancy Gonzalez crocodile clutches and quilted Chanel bags.

With head-to-toe looks starting at $1,000, the Library doesn't espouse cheap dressing, but its fees are far less than the designer ball gowns we've been eyeing. Include Louboutin heels, a Judith Leiber clutch and canary diamond earrings in that cost, and our couture dreams may just become realities.

Albright Fashion Library, 62 Cooper Square (at Bowery); 212-977-7350 or albrightnyc.com

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