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July 25 2014

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4 posts tagged "Dover Street Market New York"

Emerging Talents Give Dover Street Market New York a New Beginning

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DSM

On Saturday, after a two-day closure, Dover Street Market New York, Rei Kawakubo’s seven-floor multibrand fashion wonderland open since last December, celebrated its inaugural “new beginning,” with just-arrived Fall ’14 merchandise and fresh shop-in-shops. Melitta Baumeister, whose career was catapulted when Rihanna wore her oversize black biker jacket in Paris back in March, and Hood by Air’s Shayne Oliver are two new additions to the store’s fourth-floor DSM Showroom, which is devoted to emerging designers. They join a roster that includes Craig Green, Jacquemus, Phoebe English, KTZ, 1205, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Proper Gang, Shaun Samson, and Sibling. We checked in with the new recruits and a quartet of the floor’s returning talents to talk about Kawakubo’s lasting influence, their new installations, and the “beautiful chaos” that is DSM.

Melitta

MELITTA BAUMEISTER
“The Comme des Garçons campaign collaboration with Cindy Sherman in 1994 stopped me in my tracks. I remember being completely blown away,” Baumeister recalls. “So I’m very happy to be with a group of creators [now] that have a mutual understanding on fashion, to be part of a showroom that believes in the importance of creating new experiences of how fashion can be consumed, in a world of beautiful chaos. To be in an environment where the brand is understood will no doubt give [me] the confidence to go further with bigger dreams.”

HOOD BY AIR (SHAYNE OLIVER)
“Going to the Comme des Garçons flagship for the first time here in New York changed my life, and molded my thought process on creating a fashion brand that is meant for you, and only you,” Oliver remembers. “The shopping experience at Dover Street Market is [likewise] unique and special. I think it really works well with the HBA concept and vibe. We want to make people feel immersed in our world, in the whole experience of the brand. [Our shop-in-shop] is a conversation with our customers outside of the traditional realm of fashion.”

Craig Green

CRAIG GREEN
“All the Dover Street Market stores have a totally stand-alone and unique way of working. The amazing and forever-changing interiors make for a dynamic and exciting space and experience,” Green says. “The main idea behind our new Fall ’14 space was to put the highly detailed, hand-painted pieces against the raw quality of untreated wooden structures. We used large hand-painted fabric rugs as hangings to demonstrate what the garments themselves have been cut from.

Phoebe

PHOEBE ENGLISH
“DSMNY is different to other stores as it’s not really just a store, it’s a destination and an environmental experience, which heightens, celebrates, and elevates the incredible stock they hold,” English says. “In many ways it’s also a mecca for young creatives justifying and contextualizing the work they’re making; [that's what] the London store was for me when I was studying at Central Saint Martins. We wanted this space to [feel] unexpected, sort of like a surprise or a bit of drama injected into a retail environment. The raw naturalism of the collapsed cliff face against the clothes hanging on the suspended rails—something beautiful and refined in a broken space. I [also] wanted it to represent the dialogue of material, which informs each collection. I worked with art director Philip Cooper. It was about balancing the ethos of how I work creatively with the reality of shopping.”

Lee RoachLEE ROACH

“The opportunity to completely change the space seasonally allows us to truly represent the season’s ideas and concepts,” Roach says. “Our Fall ’14 space remains minimal with the introduction of new square metal fixtures. We’ve introduced stand-alone, industrial two-arm rails to highlight the collection’s fabrication and construction, which remain fundamental. I would like people to touch and try on the clothes.”

SIBLING (SID BRYAN, JOE BATES, COZETTE MCCREERY)

“DSMNY feels like being in an interactive art space but without any of the pretense,” the Sibling trio says. “It’s been fantastic to see how artists and creatives interpret the Sibling vision each time. We loved collaborating with Uncommon Projects [on the leopard shelving and screen unit], Richard Woods [using the catwalk recolored version of his iconic wood print as wallpaper], and now with artist James Davison. We saw James’ work recently via the journalist Charlie Porter. He’d uploaded a video of James’ window display with moving parts and amazing color. It also felt like he’d had fun doing it. All of which is very much what Sibling is about, so we didn’t think twice about working with him and sent him catwalk pictures and a very relaxed brief. Relaxed because we always like collaborative works to come more from the artist.”

Photos: Courtesy Photos

Milliner Stephen Jones Talks Rei Kawakubo, Lesbian Geishas, and His Latest Fragrance

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Stephen Jones

In 1985, British milliner Stephen Jones and Rei Kawakubo, the design visionary behind Comme des Garçons, met at a duty-free shop in Anchorage, Alaska’s international airport. Jones didn’t recognize her, hilarity ensued, but ultimately that chance encounter has led to thirty years of collaboration. Not only does Jones design hats for Comme des Garçons’ men’s and women’s collections, but he’s also created two fragrances—one black, one white—with the brand. The second, dubbed Wisteria Hysteria, launched at Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market New York this week.

To celebrate the scent, which comes in a miniature white hatbox lined with a netted white veil, Jones has dug into his archive to put twelve of his CDG toppers on display. The all-white exhibition is accompanied by a film installation featuring director Henry Pincus’ eerie video for the eau. “Hats are a bit autobiographical,” Jones told us. “I take bits from my life and put them into my designs.” It’s no surprise, then, that he can recall the story behind each chapeau. For instance, the Fall 2010 Funnybone fascinator—a crystal confection shaped like a broken femur—was conceived after Jones had leg surgery. “I was sketching from the hospital!” he said, laughing. Fall 2002′s epic quilted ostrich-plume bonnet, garnished with crystal chinstraps, was intended for the “most glamorous Inuit you’ve ever seen.” The most significant hat, however, is the simplest—a white felt beret from Fall 1985. It was the first style Jones ever made for Kawakubo.

Yesterday, over coffee at DSMNY’s Rose Bakery, Jones spoke to Style.com about Wisteria Hysteria, working with Kawakubo, chipped black nail polish, and more.

Your first fragrance with Comme des Garçons was black, and your second is white. Why?
Because of the simplicity and purity. I always think the ultimate hat is a black hat. It’s just a contrast between the skin and the blackness and the graphicness—I mean, everybody from Irving Penn to Richard Avedon and even painters focus on black and white. If you look at amazing Tudor paintings or Dutch paintings, the subjects are wearing black with a giant white collar against a black background. They’re so powerful. And I love the complexity of black—it can be shiny black, matte black, transparent black, and that’s also something that Rei really explored very early on in her career, like, different qualities of black. And looking at your nails, I have to say, on my first day of college in 1976, which was the year of punk, I also wore black nail polish.

Mine’s quite chipped, though.
Honey, who wants to have perfect black nail polish? I want it chipped! I’m sure at the Met ball last year they all had perfect black nail polish, which was so uncool. What you need to have is a dysfunctional boyfriend with eye liner on—yesterday’s—and chipped black nail polish. That’s sexy.

I love the way you play with the black and white duality in the Wisteria Hysteria film. Can you tell me about it?
It’s directed by Henry Pincus, who’s an old friend of mine, and it’s got kimonos in it by L’Wren Scott. It was so weird because six months ago, when I was telling her about my fragrance, I hadn’t worked out the name yet, but I told her, “It’s going to be wisteria, but it’s white.” And she said, “You’re not going to believe this,” and showed me the sketch of an outfit embroidered with wisteria. It was a total coincidence. So we used it for the commercial, and the rest is very sad.

Why did you decide to have Charlotte Tomas, who plays both characters in the film, perform a nude kiss at the end of the short?
Because they’re blending. I like this idea of two characters that are actually one person. That’s the whole angel or devil thing. When we launched the film, there were lots of comments on the Internet like, “I don’t know what it smells like, but I like the idea of lesbian geishas.” That may be the next fragrance.

What is the relationship between perfume and hats? You’re the only milliner I’ve known to launch a fragrance.
Well, it’s really to do with the head. First of all, when I’m trying hats on a woman, I’m above her, and because of that, I always smell her perfume. But hats are almost more about beauty than they are about fashion. Yes, of course, they have to coordinate with your clothes, but they really have to work with your face—that’s the important thing. And hats are very close to you emotionally in the way that hair is and the way that fragrance is. I love this idea of a perfumed, hatted world—it’s a bit retro. That’s our whole world: black hats, perfume, femininity, looking after yourself, preciousness. So often nowadays women are told they’re not supposed to feel like that because it’s sort of indulgent or something. Well, hey, isn’t self-indulgence part of the raison d’être of hats and fragrance? We need that fantasy, because everything else is not about self-indulgence—paying your mortgage, work, your children, etc.

How did you start collaborating with Rei Kawakubo?
It’s very funny, actually. I was in Paris in 1985. We’d been to the Gaultier men’s show, and the next day, we were flying to Japan. I was at a nightclub and I was trying to leave with my assistant, and all these people were coming up to me and saying, “Stephen Jones, I really like your hats,” and my assistant was on the other side of the dance floor looking at her watch, like, “We’ve got to be up at 6 in the morning.” That was a big bubble coming out of her head. Anyway, we got into the cab and she said to me, “You just have to say ‘Thank you very much’ and move on.”

So the next day, I was in the duty-free in the Anchorage airport. In those days, when you flew from Europe to Japan, you had to go through Anchorage because you couldn’t fly over Russian airspace. And this Japanese lady comes over to me and says, “Stephen Jones, I like your hats.” And I said, “Thank you very much,” and moved to the next aisle. And then she came over again and said, “Stephen Jones,” and I said, “Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” and moved away. And I could see my assistant literally doing the one-minute mile, like, “Idiot! That’s Rei Kawakubo.’ So then I turned the color of beetroot and we laughed about it, and we went to Tokyo and she invited me for dinner. I went to their offices, saw a little bit of how she works, and she asked if we could collaborate. There’s a hat in the exhibition, the white beret, that’s from the beginning of that collaboration.

When you’re working with Rei, is the creative process different than when you’re designing for your own line?
In a way, it’s very different. When I’m doing my own collection, I’m creating—mentally creating—the story in the background. Hats are so much about a story, even if it’s a simple one. When I’m doing hats for Comme des Garçons, I will normally get a brief, like “black” or “animal” or “romantic.” But sometimes the brief will be “there is no brief.” It tends not to be about specifics because, ultimately, what Rei does not want is something that I think looks “Comme des Garçcons.” She loves the hats to be the bit of spice in the collection, so she likes something that almost has nothing to do with the collection. She loves that sort of randomness and the fact that it doesn’t look too studied. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t—sometimes I take a load of hats out of a box and she says, “They’re not right.”

And what happens then?

Well, first of all, I burst into tears! [Laughs] Often she will say, “I don’t like those, but I like this one.” And then I’ll very, very quickly work out with her in a five-minute conversation what she wants. She might say, “Can I have some more like that?” Or she’ll say, “Oh, I want to show them inside out.” And I’ll say, “Ehhh, OK?” Sometimes it really doesn’t make sense to me, but when I see it on the runway, it makes perfect sense. You know, every hat that I’ve ever made—especially for designers—is really like having a conversation. I make hats out of conversations. So I have conversations with Rei and her husband, Adrian Joffe, and it’s a very special arrangement.

Why do you think Rei chose—and continues to choose—you to make Comme des Garçons’ hats?

The reason that Rei wants me to do the hats is because, of course, I bring my taste and flavor, but she always says, “You’re an English gentleman hatmaker.” And for her, the history or authenticity I bring as an English milliner is extremely important. I think that authenticity is crucially important for her clothes, and this environment [Dover Street Market], too.

Stephen Jones at DSMNY

Was selecting the hats for this exhibition a nostalgic experience?
Yes, because I remember making each hat. It’s funny—I can’t remember my phone number or the day of the week, but I can remember each hat. And with those memories come a million different feelings. But I didn’t choose the hats around the concept of Wisteria. I think what I do is a bit Hysteria, anyway. All of it! I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. In the fashion business, we think we’re terribly normal. But all of our friends think…

…that we’re terribly mad. Has approach to millinery changed over the years?
There are certain things that have changed and certain things that have remained constant. Something that’s remained constant is that I still believe hats are about self-expression. They’re an adventure, and they create a persona in a really charming way. Often, you put a hat on and you become something. I still believe in all of that. Things that are different? I’m better at making hats than I used to be; I have much more of a design range because I’ve collected so much fashion knowledge along the way. I’m 57 now, and I remember working with Thierry Mugler in 1983. You amass experience. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that I still love what I do.

I have to ask you, why do you think Pharrell got so much flak for wearing that fabulous Vivienne Westwood hat?
Because he was doing something different. He was sticking his neck out. And you know also, people are thinking, Oh, pop star, you’re supposed to be wearing a baseball cap. But he doesn’t want to fit into that pigeonhole. If you put a baseball cap on him, it wouldn’t feel convincing. And Westwood’s Mountain hat is such an amazing hat, not that I’m jealous or anything. He looked fantastic.

You’ve been making Dior’s hats for decades. I’m curious, how is working with Raf Simons different from collaborating with John Galliano?
It’s totally different. Hats were really a very strong part of John’s design language. Working with Raf, I mean, I knew Raf before he came to Dior because we worked at Jil Sander together. But hats aren’t such a part of his aesthetic. I’m still doing hats because Dior has a real hat market, so we carry on selling hats, but they’re not in the show. There were no hats in the [Resort '15] show last night. But I’ve been doing other things for Dior, too. Remember those neck bows from ready-to-wear? I did those. So I’m doing scarves and things using millinery techniques, but applying them to different areas of the body. It’s a whole new thing for me, and a real adventure.

Photo: Courtesy of Dover Street Market New York

DSM Brings Moynat to the Big Apple

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DSM Bags

There’s much to be said for the luxury of the discreet, something Moynat has in spades. Sans screaming logos, and even sans advertisements, the Parisian luggage label has made its name on the weight of an impressive heritage. Now, after more than a century and a half, the brand will make its first foray into the stateside market, with a temporary ground-floor boutique in New York’s Dover Street Market. The space opens tomorrow.

Since its inception in 1849, Moynat has enjoyed a storied history as a malletier alongside counterparts Goyard and Vuitton, outfitting Europe’s upper echelons with bespoke trunks. Long before Mulberry’s Alexa, Marc’s Stam, or even the Birkin, there was Moynat’s Réjane, a handbag en homage to celebrated Belle Epoque actress Gabrielle Réjane. But by the latter half of the 20th century, the tide had turned. The grande dame Parisian boutique shuttered in the mid-seventies and Moynat languished more or less in obscurity until being acquired by LVMH in 2010. Since then, CEO Guillaume Davin and artistic director Ramesh Nair have been tasked with reacquainting the world with the house’s former glory. First up was a 2,150-square-foot flagship at 348 Rue Saint-Honoré, which bowed in 2011. Nair has paid particular attention to a sense of joie de vivre, whipping up a sumptuous valise specifically to house the macarons of Pierre Hermé and an opulent, bicycle-mounted picnic case for those who would take their lunch alongside the Seine. A first international boutique opened its doors in London just a month ago, and tomorrow, Midtown East.

DSM

Le Moynat Trunk Show (a tribute to the brand’s historic “caravan” approach to presenting their wares abroad) has made stops previously at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan Shinjuku in Tokyo. Along with a bevy of other goods, the Dover Street installment will feature two one-off, hand-painted Quattro bags inspired by New York. “We wanted to blend into [the space] and at the same time tell a story, because for us the most important element in debuting in New York is to share a bit of our history and show our values,” Davin says. Happily, Comme des Garçons CEO Adrian Joffe and his team have endeavored to make that as liberating an experience as possible. “We give them a space and a few health and safety rules, and then leave them complete freedom to do what they want. We urge them to be creative and to be freer than they would be normally. We encourage them to ignore corporate constraints where possible.”

While the pairing of famously cutting-edge DSM and a historic brand unfazed by trend or the passage of time may seem incongruous at first glance, Joffe is quick to dismiss any naysaying. “The juxtaposition of heritage and strong fashion is a very important part of Dover Street Market, just as is the clashing of luxury and streetwear, the iconic and the iconoclastic, the simple and the more complicated—all go toward the aim of an exciting shopping experience through the realization of beautiful chaos. Creative, visionary people do not need borders and boundaries and categorization.”

Le Moynat Trunk Show will be open at Dover Street Market New York, located at 160 Lexington Avenue, from April 24 to June 22.

Photos: Courtesy Photos

Why the New Dover Street Market Is a Wake-up Call for the Retail Industry

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Dover Street Market NYIs this the end of shopping as we know it? That thought kept insinuating itself in my head in December as I navigated the busiest spending time of the year. The revolution has been brewing for a while, of course, but this was the holiday season when I reached a personal tipping point in terms of favoring e-commerce over bricks-and-mortar. The physical act of visiting a store has finally become too depressing: You have to deal with the crowds, there’s rarely a sense of intimacy or discovery, there’s never anything in the size you want, the shop assistants in even supposedly upscale stores manage to be pushy and ill-informed at the same time (why is the line “Can I help you?” always delivered with a vague sense of threat?), and just try finding a taxi afterward. Better to stay home and log on. Ironically, one of the reasons the best online retailers win out is that they deliver a level of good old-fashioned service that their real-world counterparts have lost: Delivery to your front door (just hours after you’ve ordered if you live in New York), the ability to try things on in the comfort and privacy of home, and the option to return what you don’t like, no questions asked. Hell, if I’m logged in, one of my favorite e-tailers will even change the logo at the top of their site to Mr. Standen. It’s the little things in life.

No, I decided I was done with shopping the traditional way. And then along came Dover Street Market. I went to the press opening of the new multi-retailer space owned and curated by Rei Kawakubo and her Comme des Garçons team on the Friday before Christmas. Then I went back again a week later just to make sure my original opinion hadn’t been skewed by the energy of opening night. On both occasions, I came away with the same impression: Dover Street Market has made shopping enjoyable, even enlightening again. How? I think there are a few key lessons that other retailers could study.

1. Shopping should be a social experience first, a transactional one second.
The decision to put Rose Bakery on the ground floor immediately to the right as you enter was probably dictated by the contingencies of the physical space, but it’s a fortuitous placement. There’s nothing new about having a café in a store, of course, but what’s key here is that it doesn’t feel like a separate entity but a seamless part of the experience. The array of baked goods and the communal dining tables spilling into the shopping area immediately create a sense of well-being and bonhomie. That continues throughout the market with its seven floors and Aladdin’s Cave-like warren of individual boutiques. You feel like you are having a good day out even before you think about buying anything. That sentiment is probably helped by the slightly out-of-the-way Murray Hill location.

2. Shop assistants are the new rock stars.
First of all, they look the part here. But even if they’re dressed cooler than you, they don’t have that cooler-than-thou attitude. They won’t force themselves on a customer, but if you ask for assistance, you’ll find they are not only helpful but passionate and knowledgeable about the stock. None of this happened by accident. The assistants at Dover Street Market were cherry-picked from other independent shops around New York, then put through a rigorous set of interviews. I used to give other retailers the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was simply impossible to find great store assistants. DSM has proved it can be done.

3. It’s all in the mix.
Dover Street Market has the best variety of merchandise that I’ve seen in a long time. It adheres to the same formula that Kawakubo and Co. use in their other outlets in London and Tokyo, but perhaps because of the conservatism of most New York stores, it stands out in greater contrast here. DSM stocks a rigorously edited selection from—to name just a few—high-end designers like Prada and Saint Laurent, street/sportswear labels like Supreme and Nike, and up-and-comers like Shaun Samson and Gosha Rubchinskiy, not to mention a handful of items from an old-school French naval outfitter. Instead of feeling like you’re seeing the same things you’ve been looking at for months online or in glossy ads, there’s a sense of surprise here. Other retailers might argue that this approach wouldn’t be commercial enough for them. All I can reply is that nearly the entire stock of Supreme had turned over in the few days between my first and second visits. And it raises a larger point. Perhaps as traditional retailers do more and more of their business via their digital platforms, physical stores should become showcases for their more experimental ranges and most exciting goods, places where you enchant and engage your potential customers while the hard selling gets done online.

4. And finally…
Judging by DSM’s concrete facade, the shopwindow as we know it is dead.

Photo: George Chinsee, WWD