Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dover Street Market Opening

Hoo-Rei! Kawakubo

The third floor
All Photos Marilyn Kirschner
(Click on images for larger views)

An early New Year’s gift to New York, came on Saturday with the long awaited opening of her third Dover Street Market (“CDG’S ultimate in cool multi brand store”), at 160 Lexington Avenue, www.newyork.doverstreetmarket.com. And fittingly, (since everything about the revered designing icon, is nontraditional, surprising, and not by the books), the weather was downright balmy and spring like, if not record breaking for this time of year; all the more so when you consider it was the official first day of winter. By the way, the merchandise (ready-to-wear, active wear, accessories, candles, fragrance, notebooks, gift items, etc.) that fills the 7 floors (there are over 200 labels for him and her including Comme des Garcons, Prada, Junya Watanabe, Alexander Wang, Nina Ricci, Thom Browne, Rick Owens, Sacai, Saint Laurent, Sibling, Azzedine Alaia, Giambattista Valli, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Jil Sander, APC, Moscot, Michael Costiff’s World Archive, Ann Demeulemeester, Jacquemus, Repossi, etc.) is culled from spring 2014 collections, so it could not have been more apropos that spring fever was in the air.

Glass elevator

The highly anticipated store’s opening has been talked and written about for months, and was front page in yesterday’s WWD; I especially liked their catchy cover lines, “Oh, Comme, All Ye Faithful”. Indeed, I was one of the many fashion faithful (others I spotted were publicist Nadine Johnson, dandy Patrick McDonald, and John Demsey, Estee Lauder’s Group President) who are apparently ready to have his/her socks knocked off vis-à-vis the retail landscape (or were at the very least, just curious). I noticed a line around the block prior to the 11 AM official opening, and I thought maybe I didn’t get the memo about the first 100 people getting a free Prada ensemble. But as it turns out,  it was only those with ‘vouchers’ for Nike and Supreme who had to actually wait in line to enter.
Stairs

Once inside, the sales staff could not be more friendly and helpful (duh!), and if I have one criticism, it is that on some floors, where spaces where more divided, it was a bit like fashion gridlock, and felt a bit claustrophobic. There is an elevator that runs right through the entire building (it is see thru, all glass, and punctuated with black polka dots, a Kawakubo signature, and it harmoniously blends in with the space). But alas, it was inconveniently out of order on opening day (they were working to fix it). Not a big deal, I walked up the navigable stairs (some staircases are accessorized with works of art) and got off on each floor to take it all in. Among the things that stood out: Alaia’s black and ivory dresses and knitwear pieces; Moscot’s striking sunglasses; the amazing one of a kind ethnic jewelry, accessories, and robes from Michael Costiff’s World Archive (they range from about $290 - $5200 and represent pieces he’s collected from his 30 year world travels).

Simone Rocha's red dresses

There was Sibling’s handmade petal chiffon black coat and yellow dress; Simone Jacquemus’ minimal, architectural dresses and separates (priced from approximately $135 - $700) in white, pink, blue, made from stiff high tech cotton (the fabric is meant to be used for upholstery rather than clothing); Simone Rocha’s fabulous pink and red dresses (the red group is an exclusive, and one dress, $1200, is exquisite). And because I personally cannot get enough bags (especially if they are interestingly shaped, large, fold able, packable, lightweight). I walked away with two. One is elongated nylon top handle bag covered in black white polka dots ($165), and other is cotton canvas (also $165) covered in a chic vintage scarf (the adorable sales person pronounced it “very Versace on a boat”).

Simone Jacquemus collection

The 20,000 square foot former women’s school, which has been completely transformed according to Rei’s own vision, does not resemble any other retail outpost in Manhattan, (down to the energetic, eclectic presentation; the painstakingly curated selection; the almost primitive and childlike, naive colorful graphics, graffiti, and playful artwork); AND its unorthodox location, Murray Hill, which has been criticized as “sleepy” and “unglamorous”. It has even been labeled “Manhattan’s least fashionable neighborhood”, (“home to curry restaurants, cheap nail salons, and recent college graduates of the mainstream variety”). I can certainly think of many other neighborhoods that in my opinion, have that dubious distinction, and my gosh, you’d think this was a decrepit, dangerous, completely out of the way area where you are risking life and limb. I prefer to call it an interesting, nontraditional spot for such a temple of high fashion, and it makes the whole serendipitous factor even more so. And quite frankly, as I have said, I would rather ‘suffer’ the faint smell of curry in the air, than be bombarded with tourists and helmet haired Kelly bag carrying Upper East Side matrons, all of whom inhabit many of this town’s “obvious” high end retail streets and avenues (DSM is happily “far from the maddening crowd”).

Nobody seems to want to point out that it’s also just a few blocks away from the New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, AND the 69th street Regiment, (68 Lexington Avenue at 26th street), the sprawling space where Marc Jacobs shows his main collection, as well as Marc by Marc Jacobs. So now, if you find you have some time to kill before or after one of his shows, you have the perfect spot to shop, browse, or grab a bite to eat.

I took a quick look around the immediate neighborhood (30th and Lexington), and did find many nail salons; an acupuncturist (hey, you never know when the stress of fashion, or shopping, will put you in need of one); small hotels and motels; and a large selection of comfortable, attractive, mid-range cafes and restaurants with varied menus (not just Indian). Try finding that on 5th or Madison Avenues, where the selections seem to be lowly delis or serious 4 star restaurants and very little in between. Directly across the street, at 150 Lexington Avenue, there is the very interesting The Old Print Shop, established 1898, which specializes in fine prints, antique maps, and art books. And right next door, on the corner, is the historic First Moravian Episcopal Church (the Romanesque Revival building was built in 1845); which might come in handy, if, regardless of how much of a ‘religious experience’ your visit to DSM proves to be, you are still yearning for more.





- Marilyn Kirschner




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