Robot welcomes shoppers into Gentle Monster’s Shanghai boutique
We celebrate the greatest fashion boutiques around the world, from London to Tokyo, Beverly Hills to Shanghai
From Dolce & Gabbana’s mosaic-clad fashion boutique in Puerto Banús, Spain, to Loewe’s first art-filled and tapestry-lined space in New York, we invite you to settle back and zoom into the standout details in these global stores. Retail design has never offered more respite.
Step into the greatest fashion boutiques around the world
Gentle Monster, Shanghai, China
A robot surveys shoppers as they enter Gentle Monster’s latest boutique in Shanghai – an expansive multidisciplinary five-storey space in the city’s Huangpu District – which celebrates the optical brand’s innovative and technologically-led approach to retail design. Gentle Haus also welcomes a host of other labels into its location: surrealist dessert brand Nuddake on its ground floor and the first Chinese flagship boutique of South Korean beauty brand Tamburins on its fourth. It took a year to develop the robotic face that sits on the 3rd floor of Gentle Haus, created by the brand’s Robotics lab, as part of an exhibition space that will host roving shows and pop-up events.
Balenciaga, London, United Kingdom
Stroll past Balenciaga’s 772 sq m boutique on Sloane Street in London and you’d be forgiven for thinking the space was in a state of non-completion. In fact, the untreated textures, cracked and stained poured concrete flooring and blackened stairwells are synonymous with the French maison’s latest ’Raw’ architectural retail concept, one which revels in industrial flourishes and exposed fittings and the drama of the dilapidated. Here, electrical wires, air ducts and support beams are exposed and an unfinished elevator core even takes centre stage in the store. We suggest you walk past the boutique again.
Bally, London, United Kingdom
A magnificent, column-lined facade on the corner of Regent Street in Central London beckons design-led shoppers into Bally’s new 400 sq m flagship boutique. An evolution of the Swiss brand’s experiential multi-functional retail environments, first launched in Milan’s Montenapoleone boutique in 2019, the space is centralised on visual contrasts, juxtaposing marble with terracotta, and alludes to the UK’s capital city’s topographical and architectural history. Conceived in collaboration with Seen Displays, a London-based creative design and production agency, the store also boasts pieces designed by materiality-focused designer and maker James Shaw, on a series of strata-focused naturalistic plinths and fixtures, crafted using rammed earth, in a nod to the foundational clay of London’s architecture.
Rinascente, Rome, Italy
Designers Frederik De Wachter and Alberto Artesani of Milanese practice DWA have created a new interior for the fourth floor of Rinascente in Rome’s Piazza Fiume. This is the first step of an ambitious redesign of the iconic building originally conceived in 1961 by Franco Albini and Franca Helg, carried out by architect Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli’s Studio 2050 and due to be completed in 2023, while the 4th floor womenswear department by DWA is the first to open, in summer 2021. The colour palette is based on imposing shades of brick red on the ceiling and mint green on the display elements made of tubular sheets. ‘We tried to find a balance between the identity of our design codes and the importance of using the space of the original project,’ say the designers. ‘It is a design made of contrasts, distributed on almost imperceptible levels.’ Writer: Rosa Bertoli
John Lobb, Beverly Hills, USA
The founder of heritage British bootmaker John Lobb famously walked from Cornwall to London in 1851 to fulfil his footwear dreams, and now the label has taken its own recent saunter around the globe. The brand is opening a series of boutiques, from Paris to Beverly Hills, designed by French architecture studio ciguë, which has also worked on retail spaces for Vejas, Patcharavipa and Aesop. These interior spaces nod to a science fiction spaceship, accented with matte metal and deep walnut wood, and feature fixtures inspired by the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonesca. For lucky luxury shoppers in LA, John Lobb’s Californian boutique has also been wrapped in a facade evoking the exposed brick work of the brand’s Nottingham factory. It brings a touch of artisanal Britain to Beverly Hills.
Brioni, London, UK
London-based architecture and interior design company P. Joseph had classical inclinations when considering the design of Brioni’s London flagship boutique, which encompasses ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories, and a suite for bespoke tailoring. The Bruton Street space in London’s Mayfair is inspired by the residence of a Roman man, and its sleek interior marries marble with tuff stone and travertine and mid-century Italian furniture and tapestries from the Fifties and Sixties. There’s a serene sense to the space, which denotes a series of luxurious living rooms, as delectable for the contemporary shopper as the classical one.
Acne Studios, Stockholm, Sweden
There’s a classical sense of splendour behind Acne Studios’ Stockholm boutique. The former bank in the brand’s home city, has been stripped back to its essential design, reducing layers of recent renovation in celebration of the building’s original neoclassical colonnades. Acne Studios worked with Barcelona-based Arquitectura-G on the interior overhaul of the space, who also designed the label’s industrial store in Nagoya, Japan. In a play on duality, real and faux marble are presented together, alongside original and new custom colonnades. Organic slab-like marble furntiture, created by London-based designer Max Lamb, is illuminated by grid-like spotlights, created by French designer and light artist Benoit Lalloz. Lamb and Lalloz also created pieces for Acne Studios’ Stockholm headquarters, which opened in November 2019.
Maison Margiela, London, UK
Seeking out some architectural retail splendour to spark a serotonin surge on your daily walk? Should you stroll around London’s Mayfair, we recommend walking past Maison Margiela’s Bruton Street flagship, which has been aesthetically overhauled by Dutch architects Studio Anne Holtrop. The design of the 190 sq m space has been influenced by the textural marking of clothing, and interior elements like columns and walls have been imprinted with the fingerprints of fabric. Creative director of the brand John Galliano was also inspired by the concept of getting dressed in haste, an ideal he holds integral to its aesthetic, and pillars appear dented or curved, as if in motion. For now, we’ll be satisfied peering through the windows of the store, and taking in its pared-back and tactility-focused design. When lockdown lifts, we’ll be dropping in in person too.
Dolce & Gabbana, Puerto Banús, Spain
An ode to modernist Catalan architecture, the label’s Puerto Banús boutique, in Nueva Andalucía, also offers up a tribute to the ocean. Rustic blue ceramic walls, soft furnishings created from natural rope and a floor created using trencadís – a broken mosaic technique formed from shards of glass, all evoke maritime escape, while floor to ceiling windows reveal a resplendent real time harbour view. On the first floor, a terrace houses Dolce and Gabbana’s Martini Bar – a space synonymous with the brand’s retail vision. Imagine shopping the label’s latest Siciliy-inspired wonders, before taking in the Spanish sunset upstairs, sipping on something served with a twist.
Loewe, Soho, New York
Picture settling into this cornflower blue Cassina 637 Utrecht armchair and surveying the art that populates Loewe’s first Manhattan space on Greene Street. In a nod to its other gallery-inspired outposts in cities including London and Tokyo, the oak, Campaspero limestone and concrete-clad space boasts a roster of pieces from the Madrid house’s covetable collection. These include three tapestries depicting photo realist scenes, created by Limoges-based master weavers in France, and conceived originally for the set design of Loewe’s S/S 2020 show, and a figurative hand-painted screen by South African artist Lisa Brice. Top marks for spotting a tea bowl by the Japanese ceramicist Takuro Kuwata and 2018 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize finalist, who creative director Jonathan Anderson collaborated with for the brand’s recent A/W 2020 womenswear show, on a series of sea anemone-like bag adornments and knobbly breastplates.
For his 17th store design for Issey Miyake, Tokyo-based designer Tokujin Yoshioka was inspired by the concept of monozukuri no gemba, or ‘making things.’ The raw concrete walls of the 225sq m space house not just the label’s prismatic Homme Plissé and limited-edition COLOR collections, but also a functional pleating machine. This nods the history of Miyake’s renowned and shrouded in secrecy pleating technology. Here, two Issey Miyake engineers pleat garments – originally cut 1.5 times larger than their final size – live. The Minami-Aoyamal-located street the space is housed on is a Miyake mecca – also playing host to its Issey Miyake mainline, Pleats Please and HaaT to Reality Lab Issey Miyake stores.
Peek through the white vertical blades that are clustered over Prada’s Miami boutique’s large windows, and you’ll find a sleek, chequer mosaic-clad treasure trove, dedicated to mid-century Brazilian design. The space – spanning two floors and 650 sq m – is populated with furniture pieces by Joaquim Tenreiro, Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler, Jorge Zalszupin, José Zanine Caldas and Sérgio Rodrigues. Take a highly-coveted seat and take in the eye-catching walls of the space, which are clad in sea green bas-relief panels, featuring various 3D floral designs from the brand’s ready-to-wear collections.
We were such fans of the brand’s 70s-centric Dimore Studio-designed Mayfair outpost, that we awarded its seductive VIP room our ‘Best Personal Space’ gong in 2018’s Wallpaper Design Awards. The retro revivalist space nods to the designs of Paul Evans, Pierre Paulin and Gae Aulenti, and pairs contemporary with vintage furniture classics, like armchairs from the 1800s and an ‘Artona’ series dining table by Afra and Tobia Scarpa. We’ve also got a real soft spot for the boutique’s staircase, which is lined with snuggly double height mohair and velvet walls.
Bottega Veneta, Miami Design District, US
Imagine ascending the central dusty pink plaster spiral staircase inside the first boutique designed by creative director Daniel Lee. The calm-inducing light-filled space revels in the interplay of materials, including brass, plywood, leather, resin and reclaimed wood (Lee also favours mixed media in his accessory designs too). Fixtures in bright pops of colour, in blue, orange and green and terrazzo flooring in an array of Verde Guatemala, Bianco di Carrara, Verde Alpi and Nero Marquina marble tones bring bold juxtaposition to stark white shelving and fixtures.
The Row, Mayfair, London
Less retail space, more serene gallery haven, the Annabelle Selldorf-designed boutique in Mayfair’s Carlos Place is brimming with art and design treasures. Wonder at ‘Jai Signh’s Sky’, a James Turrell light piece at the entrance of the store, descend the brand’s majestic arts and crafts wooden staircase and take in pieces by John Chamberlain and Isamu Noguchi across the brand’s two floors. The boutique reflects The Row’s other calm-inducing boutiques in LA and New York, and is populated with furniture pieces sourced from Galerie Jacques Lacoste, Galerie Patrick Seguin, Galerie 54 and Oscar Graf, which, like its men’s and womenswear, are also available to buy.