New year shopping sprees came early for fashion fans in New York, with the opening of Rei Kawakubo's Dover Street Market in the Big Apple. Occupying a neoclassical building on 30th Street and Lexington Avenue, the New York iteration of the cult, multi-brand emporium has spread itself over seven floors and boasts even more curated treasures than its siblings.
Like its London and Ginza outposts, Dover Street Market New York brings together a host of creative expressions in poetic cacophony. In addition to carrying the full Comme des Garçons range, the boutique stocks a clashing mix of brands (many of which have created special collections for the store), ranging from niche favourites like Yang Li, Casely Hayford and Visvim to big names like Prada, Alexander Wang and Saint Laurent, with some fresh gems, such as Andre Walker and 1205, thrown in as well. There are several specially commissioned artworks, ranging from sound sculptures by Brooklyn artist Calx Vive to wall murals by Japanese artist Enomoto Koichi, interspersed throughout the mammoth space.
The store's unusual location on a less-trodden street in Midtown East Manhattan not only makes sense once the majestic building comes into view, but brings an alluring sense of discovery to the well-loved brand. Previously inhabited by Touro College, the building was empty for four years before the fashion company got its hands on it. The premises were completely gutted and designed by Rei Kawakubo, whose design included installing a 64 square-foot glass elevator that runs through the core of the boutique.
In addition to the reappearance of familiar features like the corrugated metal huts, vibrant use of polka dots and an outpost of the beloved Rose Bakery, Dover Street Market New York has especially amped things up with a different site-specific installation around each of the three columns that traverse the ground floor space. The research-based art practice London Fieldworks has covered one with a frenetic assemblage of wooden boxes, 'yarn bomber' Magda Sayeg has tackled another with one of her signature knitted constructions, while the third has been transformed by junk sculptor Leo Sewell with recycled objects to dizzying visual effect.
Despite the fact that Kawakubo carefully oversaw most details of the boutique, many of the store's inhabitants, including Prada, Sacai, Rick Owens and eyewear brand Moscot, have been given creative license to design their own retail space, resulting in a colourful pastiche of aesthetics. In a released statement, the elusive Kawakubo said, 'I want[ed] to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos; the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision.'
Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons and husband to the enigmatic designer added, 'The whole idea behind Dover Street Market is to provide a new, stimulating and fun shopping experience. For New York, we wanted to create a contrasting feeling to the complex vibrant city that is New York. Kawakubo's main idea was to do the opposite of sophistication; a humble rendering of the respect for nature by using only one material: wood.'
The debut of Dover Street Market New York coincides with the reopening of Comme des Garçons' Chelsea boutique, which has been refurbished for the first time since it opened in 1999. The iconic, undulating space has been covered with gold. With furniture, light shades designed by Beirut's .PSLAB and two sculptural installations by artist Kohei Nawa all realised in the auspicious hue, the space is truly a sight to behold.