Isabel Marant Hits New York At Last
Isabel Marant told us she was planning her first New York store way back in March of last year at her Fall 2009 show, and local fans of the French designer’s casual-cool sensibility have been waiting with credit cards at the ready ever since. We couldn’t get an official count on just how many pairs of her fringed and cuffed pirate boots will be waiting when the charming Mr. Hatman window signs (see below) disguising the construction site within come down and the doors finally open at 469 Broome Street this weekend. But on a transatlantic phone call, Marant did tell us that she’s planning to stock the label’s strongest pieces. No doubt her followers will like the sound of that.
Who did you work with on the project?
A French architect named Nicolas Andre. He did my three shops in Paris; it’s been quite a long time that we’ve been working together.
Will the new shop feel like the stores in Paris?
No, not at all. I quite hate doing the same store over and over again. I like to work around the space I’ve found, and generally I choose a space because it has a soul that I like. In Soho, I fell in love with this building on the corner of Broome and Greene; it represents what I had in my head about New York, the huge spaces. We have columns and a really great ceiling with embossed metal panels. As the space was really big, we constructed a kind of wooden cabin. It’s quite hard to explain, but it’s between a sculpture and a tree house. It’s a space within a space.
That sounds similar to what your husband, Jérôme [Dreyfuss, the bag designer], did in his store next door.
No, it’s very different. Of course, we love the same things and we have the same inspirations, living together for 15 years now. Of course there are similarities between us. But we never speak together about what we’re doing [at work] because we have really separate [design] universes. Neither of us was quite used to having such huge spaces, because in Paris it’s very rare to have this kind of space. We both had the same idea of reducing the space, having a smaller space within a big space. Yes, we share the same architect, but we really worked separately with Nicolas.
Will you stock the same merchandise here as in your Paris shops?
Seeing so many American girls in my Paris shops, I can more or less figure out that what they buy is almost the same as what we sell in Paris, so I think it will be the same merchandise. Until now, my collection in New York City was bought [by department stores and boutiques] in a quite conservative way. I think American women are looking for the strongest pieces, so I will put more strong pieces in the store. It will really represent the essence of the Isabel Marant collection.
Do you anticipate New York influencing the way you design at all?
I don’t think so; I always work very spontaneously. I hate working with records because I always say if the record was good, they already have it and they don’t need it another time. You don’t need to redo something that’s already a success.
What has Jérôme told you about the first few weeks his store has been open for business?
He was quite surprised that he sold a lot of python bags, which are the most expensive bags he does, so he was super-happy.
Have you spent a lot of time in New York? Any favorite places?
I was there the first time 20 years ago, but only for two days. After that, I went back 10 years ago, and hadn’t been there again until I started looking for a space for my store. But I did spend five days there last month for Jérôme’s opening. It was the end of the shows, and I wanted to check and see how my shop was doing. I came incognito; I had no schedule at all. I could take some time for me and visit all the museums, and most of all, the art galleries in Chelsea. I love this area, all the modern art you have in the galleries. It’s really amazing.