The historic South Street Seaport district in New York City has not exactly been known for its high fashion sense, but the arrival of the iconic retail destination 10 Corso Como is about to change all that.
The first (and only) American outpost of the Milanese boutique throws the doors open to its sprawling new Manhattan home this week. It occupies the entire ground floor of the Fulton Market Building, which was formerly the Fulton Fish Market that dates as far back as 1822. Measuring a whopping 28,000 sq ft, 10 Corso Como New York is armed with the same eclectic mix of fashion, objects, books, an Italian café and restaurant, art and photography gallery – and of course – a garden, that has made the Italian original so popular for almost 30 years.
‘When I saw the building, I fell in love. I also like the area very much. The buildings are low and there’s not much traffic. There’s a kind of serenity. It’s a little bit like in Milan. We started in an area where everybody thought nobody would ever come,’ says founder Carla Sozzani. ‘Also, This building is very historical, and when I saw all the fishes outside on the red brick, it’s beautiful. You feel like it’s not something that just happened overnight.’
Founded in 1991 by Sozzani, a former fashion editor and publisher, 10 Corso Como was designed as a ‘virtual 3D magazine’ that brought together a variety of cultural mediums and sources in a single place. Eschewing all pre-existing retail norms of the time, the pioneering shopping destination’s diverse combination of food, fashion, music, art and design has since spawned countless iterations around the world.
‘I was never a retailer, I just wanted a place where I was more a consumer,’ she adds, explaining her philosophy of ‘slow shopping’ that grounds the concept for the store. ‘I loved the fact that when you’re buying something that’s not of major necessity, we need to enjoy the process. I don’t see why we should rush to buy something that is going to give pleasure to you, or your son, your daughter or your lover. At the very beginning when we were putting a lot of effort into packaging and ribbons, people were wondering why to lose time for packaging? And now, people come for the packaging.’
In New York, the boutique offsets its historical locale with its distinctive circular black and white logo, designed by the American artist Kris Ruhs, who’s also overseen the design of the space – just as he has with the brand’s other offshoots in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing. Five hundred chrome and glass circular lights – each individually made by Ruhs – cover the ceiling of the New York space. In the restaurant, Ruhs has filled three glass tanks with delicate sculptural assemblages resembling fish, seaweed and coral, while in the bijou, glass-encased garden, he has adorned planters and flowerpots with ceramic adornments and painted the floor tiles as well.
In addition to the fashion and object collections, 10 Corso Como also houses a series of jewellery-inspired lighting installations by Michael Anastassiades for Flos, and a gallery space, which opens with an exhibition of 45 Helmet Newton images, selected by Newton himself. Entitled ‘Private Property’ and presented by both the Helmut Newton Foundation and Fondazione Sozzani, the exhibition marks the first time the images are being shown in the United States.§