If you ask us, it has always been a logical next step, but when Comme des Garçons announced the opening of Dover Street Market in New York City, a buzz immediately kicked in. And it won’t stop anytime soon, not even now that the concept store has finally opened. Conceptualized by Rei Kawakubo, the elusive vanguard of forward fashion and tantalizing retail, Dover Street Market stores are known to transcend the worn-out parameters of traditional retail through ever-changing shop settings and tightly curated merchandise.
The choice of the shop location in New York has been, although not very unexpectedly, one that’s totally in sync with the brand’s quirky stature, and thus is off the beaten track. Similar to the one in London and to a lesser extent to the Tokyo store, Dover Street Market New York has opened at a peculiar spot: a landmark building on the far eastern edge of the nomad area.
Built in 1908 in beaux-arts style by architect Harvey Wiley Corbett, it was originally home to the New York School of applied design for women, featuring 20,000 sq.ft. [1,858 sqm.] spread over seven floors. Anyone who has been to the Dover Street Market stores in London and Tokyo knows that the shopping experience is on another level there, and it’s no surprise the store in New York fits in the same category of retail excellence. Similarly, the store is an immersive adventure, featuring merchandise of various Comme des Garçons lines mixed and matched with a slew of tightly curated top brands from across the planets, and all presented in wildly imaginitive settings, designed or supervised by Rei Kawakubo. Yes, it’s a visual overload, but one you can’t get enough of.
On the ground floor, below a canopy of what looks like randomly stacked timber sticks, the Comme des Garçons black collection dangles from black steel scaffolding, while opposite jewellery pieces are presented in glass cabinets. The store’s event space next to the staircase is currently occupied by a Louis Vuitton pop-up store. Select men’s apparel, bags and shoes are showcased inside a sleek rib cage structure of plywood.
And as you should never shop on an empty stomach, rose bakery comes to the rescue with a tasty selection of organic salads, soups and sweet bites, all served in a hybrid setting that’s reminiscent of a 1950s diner. Up on the second floor the collections of Junya Watanabe and a assortment of relevant other labels are presented, in addition to special showcases of Nike and Moscot Eyewear.
The third floor is home to collections of Comme des Garçons Homme Deux, Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons, and a section featuring various men’s labels. Also situated on this floor is a Comme des Garçons Black Shop and a separate and very minimalist section for the womenswear genius that is Azzedine Alaïa.
An artsy staircase by artist duo Madeline Gins + Shusaku Arakawa connects with the floor above where collections by Jacquemus, Jackie Js Lee and Phoebe English rival the colourful splendour of self-proclaimed junk artist Leo Sewell’s column-hugging decorations. Comme des Garçons good design is store concept that was first introduced in Tokyo, and which makes its overseas debut on the fifth floor. The setting is one of a warehouse, packed with items for your home, electronics and even furniture pieces.
But that’s not all, there’s more cool fashion to be found here by some of today’s most relevant designers, including Rick Owens, J.W. Anderson and Saint Laurent. Up on the sixth unfolds a special section for Comme des Garçons fragrances, juxtaposed with a Thom Browne shop-in-shop and women’s collection by Comme des Garçons and Simone Rocha. The top floor is equally eclectic, featuring not only the highly street-cred collections by Visvim and Supreme, but also a permanent and quite spacious Prada showcase. It kicks off with an exclusive and specially designed collection of apparel, shoes and accessories. Can you can handle this treasure trove of sublime fashion? If so, happy shopping!