Juicy Couture open London flagship
In dark times we could all do with a bit of colour to brighten things up. And colour, together with a lot of tracksuits, has arrived in London’s Bruton Street in the form of a new European flagship for the LA brand Juicy Couture.
Above, Phillip Johnson, director of store design. Click here to see more of the new London store
Juicy, as it’s fondly referred to by those in the know, is a brand that wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s fun, it’s ‘cool’ in an LA-way and it’s a difficult thing to pull off with class; veer too far in one direction and it becomes saccharine kitsch – too far in the other and it loses its aspirational value for its core audience.
The new London store is testament to how well the brand pulls off this tightrope teetering and that’s thanks to Phillip Johnson, director of store design and visual services. Formerly the Creative Director of Barneys in LA, Johnson’s been with the label for three and a half years and has in that time created a retail identity that brings the clothes to life.
’I went through Pam and Gela’s (Juicy’s founders) scrapbooks to find out who they are,’ explains Johnson, ’in there I found a lot of anglomania and eccentricity – a fusion of art, fashion, music and travel and it’s this mix that I wanted to recreate in the stores.’
The London store was a challenge to say the least. At number 26, next door to the Hartnell Building (’did you know the Queen was born there?’ Johnson asked) it had previously been a ‘white’ gallery – all sterile plasterboard with no original features on show. Many brands might have rejoiced, inserted a few rails and opened their doors soon after, but Johnson chipped away and uncovered a wealth of original 18th century decoration, still intact.
Filigree plaster cornicing, a painted wooden ceiling and a wrought iron staircase were some of the more significant things that were hidden and unsurprisingly British Heritage stepped in and listed the building. So began a painstaking back-and-forth process of enhancing the existing elements, whilst remaining true to the Juicy aesthetic.
’The process was a bit like an education for me actually,’ says Johnson. ’It took 18 months. We cast interior mouldings for the centre of the ceiling from the Hartnell Building next door. I wanted to lay a herringbone parquet floor but British Heritage told me it was French and not faithful to the original decoration of the time, so we laid a rectangular parquet instead, which is what would have been there in 1760.’ So successful was he in his quest to keep the detail in line with the original décor British Heritage have now added his additions to the listing of the building.
Of course he didn’t stop there. ’The look we wanted to create was similar to what you’d expect a rock star and his girlfriend to do to a Georgian townhouse if they lived there.’ This means taxidermy with make-up and jewellery, mannequins wearing Juicy clothing and armour, custom-made toile wallpaper with motifs of surfboards and palm trees inserted, almost subtly.
Though the colours are brash, intentionally of course, it’s the detail that adds an element of sophistication. ’It’s shopping as entertainment,’ explains Johnson, and who can deny that a bit of technicolor entertainment isn’t a welcome addition on the retail scene right now?