Retail rebellion: we trace Dover Street Market’s first decade of boundary-pushing design

Dover Street Market store exterior view
Don't be fooled by the scaffolding outside London's Dover Street Market - the destination fashion store is open for business after three days of Tachiagari reinvention, beginning a calendar of tenth anniversary celebrations
(Image credit: press)

To mark the tenth anniversary of the revolutionary retail concept Dover Street Market, the original London store reopens its doors this week after 72 hours of Tachiagari ('beginning' in Japanese) reinvention, kicking off a month-long calendar of special projects, limited edition products and installations.

'Tachiagari is part of Dover Street Market's DNA,' says vice president Dickon Bowden on the store's signature mode of creative flux that's seen artists and set designers dream up infinite concept spaces over the years, 'It continues in everything we do.'

This birthday facelift includes the expansion of the ground floor's fine jewellery space (remodelled by English artist Tom Price (opens in new tab)), an enlarged rooftop Rose Bakery café, the global launch of G I R L (Comme des Garçons' fragrance collaboration with Pharrell Williams), and Tokyo's Good Design Shop's basement residency.

'Rei [Kawakubo] has always been very inspired by the energy and the clashing of different people coming together within markets, which ultimately resulted with this beautiful chaos idea,' explains Bowden.

The celebrations technically began in late August with Louis Vuitton's first DSM concept space (the brand has historically only been available through its own boutiques and department store partners) debuting Nicolas Ghesquière's A/W 2014 collection, housed on the first floor until 14 October.

Equally as anticipated is this week's erection of a series of 'Market Street Dover' themed stalls scattered around the store, selling reasonably priced DSM souvenirs that have been either curated or created by DSM founder and Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo, along with exclusive products fashioned by designers from Simone Rocha to Rick Owens and Giambattista Valli.

And although the DSM concept has now expanded to Ginza, Tokyo and New York, initially, it was inspired by London's famed Kensington Market. 'She used to love going there,' continues Bowden, referring to the three-storey indoor market on London's Kensington High Street. The bohemian enclave catered to almost all of Britain's sprawling sub cultures over the years, from the hippies to the ravers, via the punks, before it closed its doors in the 1990s.

'Each one has its own personality,' continues Bowden of the three stand-alone emporiums. 'London is the original and it's the soul of Dover Street; Ginza is a beautiful, beautiful store; and New York encapsulates the chaos very aptly.' Indeed the latest edition spans seven floors, east of Midtown on New York's Lexington Avenue.

And despite the fact that this milestone is being celebrated under DSM's forward-focused 'The Next Ten Years' campaign, we couldn't help looking back at some of the stellar collaborations from fashion brands and artists that have transformed this London space over the years, as talents like Matt Moser-Clark (opens in new tab) and Gary Card (opens in new tab) have each let their imaginations roam wild to fuel pure merchandising magic.

'They give so much freedom to experiment and make things the way I intend them,' says Card of his interactions with the brand. 'I'm a strong believer in the first instinctive idea being the best, and Dover Street are so open to that, they are extremely receptive to strange ideas, yet nothing is strained or forced.' The set designer's most ambitious project included an installation of 40 clown heads displaying 40 pairs of glasses, each one lovingly sculpted from 100 roles of masking tape, which toured all branches.

Moser-Clark shares the sentiment: 'Working as an artist, you quickly learn how fast the world turns, and then working with DSM I learnt how much faster fashion moves. The whole thing is an experience not a shop.' The first project he worked on was a window piece called 'The Ship of Fools' back in 2011. 'It was as you might expect, a sort of fishing trawler decorated with ice cream sundaes,' he says of the work that was about the same size as his studio at the time.

'You'll be doing a window at 3 or 4 in the morning and people are stopping and taking pictures,' reflects Bowden on their unexpected displays that wink out from one of Mayfair's poshest addresses. 'That's hugely satisfying.'

jewellery space view

The birthday facelift includes the expansion of the ground floor's fine jewellery space with a new installation by English artist, titled 'PP Tree'

(Image credit: Tom Price)

Rooftop bakery cafe view

The rooftop Rose Bakery café has also been extended

(Image credit: press)

Good Design Shop view

Tokyo's Good Design Shop has taken up residence in the basement

(Image credit: press)

clothes and bag stalls

And 'Market Street Dover' themed stalls have been scattered around the store. 'Rei [Kawakubo] has always been very inspired by the energy and the clashing of different people coming together within markets, which ultimately resulted in this beautiful chaos idea,' explains vice president Dickon Bowden.

(Image credit: Mark Blower)

Souvenirs stalls view

The stalls showcase reasonably priced DSM souvenirs that have been either curated or created by DSM founder and Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo, along with exclusive products fashioned by designers from Simone Rocha to Rick Owens and Giambattista Valli.

(Image credit: Mark Blower)

perfume bottle

Also launching at the London store this week is Comme des Garçons and Pharrell Williams' collaborative fragrance, suitably titled 'G I R L' after the musician's latest album

(Image credit: press)

Louis Vuitton store

The celebrations technically kicked off in late August with Louis Vuitton's first DSM concept space debuting Nicolas Ghesquière's A/W 2014 collection, housed on the first floor until 14 October

(Image credit: press)

fitting rooms view

The revamp also includes new fitting rooms, with Paul Stolper Gallery (left), and SC Artroom Milan (right), titled 'The Machine of Industrial Archaeology'

(Image credit: Peter Blake)

store's basement view

Similarly illustrative: the store's basement Undercover space

(Image credit: press)

Dover Street Market’s first floor

The first floor in situ. 'Tachiagari is part of Dover Street Market's DNA,' says Bowden on the store's signature mode of creative flux that's seen artists and set designers dream up infinite concept spaces over the years, 'It continues in everything we do.'

(Image credit: Mark Blower)

Black grids reinvent view

Black grids reinvent the store's second floor.

(Image credit: Mark Blower)

Sacai's space on third floor

Sacai's anniversary space on the third floor.

(Image credit: Mark Blower)

Simone Rocha shop

Simone Rocha's floral tribute on the third floor

(Image credit: press)

clothes and purses on stand

Also, on the third floor, JW Anderson's celebratory installation

(Image credit: press)

'Egg' space view

Going up: this 'Egg' space has taken over the fourth floor. DSM's anniversary celebrations may take a forward-focused 'The Next Ten Years' theme, but we couldn't help also looking back at some of the stellar collaborations from fashion brands and artists that have transformed this London space over the years...

(Image credit: press)

Clown heads with sunglasses

A recent anarchic gem came courtesy of Gary Card, whose 'Talking Heads' installation in May 2014 featured 21 neon polystyrene clown heads sporting Dover Street Market's sunglasses. 'They all have their own frantic personality, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes terrified, sometimes shocked,' says Card, of the work that toured each branch

(Image credit: press)

Andy Hillman's window in Dover street market

Andy Hillman's window for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012

(Image credit: press)

Sneaker space view

Sneaker space by artist Graham Hudson, 2012. 'There is a lot of freedom to respond, unlike a conventional design brief,' says Hudson. 'At DSM, a ladder is only a ladder if you stand on it to reach something out of reach - otherwise a ladder can be a shelf, a shoe box etc'

(Image credit: press)

Fendi store interior view

2012's Fendi display honoured its iconic Baguette bag

(Image credit: press)

The Ship of Fools view

'The Ship of Fools' by Matt Moser-Clark from August 2011. 'It was as you might expect, a sort of fishing trawler decorated with ice cream sundaes,' says Moser-Clark of the work that was about the same size as his studio at the time

(Image credit: press)

Christopher Nemeth

Christopher Nemeth by Lou Nemeth, 2011

(Image credit: press)

Bright Therapy Lounge

Artek's 2500 LUX Bright Therapy Lounge in September 2011

(Image credit: press)

Jake and Dinos Chapman

Jake and Dinos Chapman, 2011

(Image credit: press)

Shoe store view

Keith Haring for, May 2010

(Image credit: Tommy Hilfiger)

Octopus artwork

Octopus by Le Trois Garcons, January 2009

(Image credit: press)

window art view

Comme des Garçons Homme Plus 'Time for Magic' collection window art, July 2008

(Image credit: Jamie Reid)

Lanvin collection

Lanvin dropped in for S/S 2008

(Image credit: press)

Tim Walker's book

In anticipation of Tim Walker's book 'Pictures', his May 2008 window display featured a whimsical scene of moons and a puppet

(Image credit: press)

Chanel store interior view

Chanel's 2008 in-store display showcased its Metiers d'Arts Paris-Londres collection

(Image credit: press)

window quadrille

Comme des Garçons Homme Plus window quadrille, July 2007

(Image credit: Michael Howells)

ADDRESS

17-18 Dover Street
London W1S 4LT

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