I have been wearing Lilla P t-shirts for years and years, purchasing them whenever I came across one in stores that carried the brand. So, naturally, I was absolutely thrilled to encounter Lilla P’s first boutique during my initial Sideways walk on West 14th Street back in 2012. Five years later, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner and creator of this casual, feminine line of clothing. I felt star struck in the presence of this true celebrity.
Sitting down with Pauline Nakios, I asked how she came up with the name for her company - Lilla is for her grandmother, she told me, and the P is for herself. Pauline then shared a bit of her family history: She is from Charleston, SC, where her family owned a large furniture business. "I grew up in retail," she said. It therefore made perfect sense that she landed in New York City, one of the retail capitals of the world. While still in college, Pauline began designing the perfect t-shirt. She wanted something soft, comfortable and affordable. In 1998, her company was off and running.
While speaking with her in 2017, she proudly revealed that Lilla P is in over 1,000 boutiques throughout the U.S. and abroad. It is only on 14th Street, however, that the full collection can be found, including lightweight knit sweaters, versatile dresses, and her iconic tops. Pauline views the shop as an extension of the showroom, which is located a few floors above. Her husband, Thomas, who joined the company in 2006, is also upstairs. "He helps run the back end," Pauline said with a smile.
Lilla P exudes warmth through the soft colors throughout the space, the charming women who work there, and the welcoming, cozy atmosphere that Pauline has designed, in which shoppers can relax and try on her clothing.
Beneath the Spanish Benevolent Society lies La Nacional, one of Manhattan’s most authentic Spanish restaurants and the most easily accessible part of the society. Just by walking down the steps into the dimly lit basement lounge, we felt the bustle of 14th street quickly recede and we were transported across the ocean. La Nacional has the same relaxed, no frills atmosphere as most tapas bars in Spain. We gazed at the old photographs from the society’s earlier years on the walls and then had the option of sipping a drink at the bar, sampling some classic simple Spanish tapas such as tortilla de patatas, croquetas or chorizo, or dining on a full meal of paella. Perhaps the most authentic option, though, was to simply have a seat by the television to watch the fútbol game - it is always on. For visitors from Spain who want a taste of home, those of us pining for the Spanish travels of our past, or New Yorkers simply curious about a new culture, La Nacional is the place to go.