there's no denying that rei kawakubo not only made an indelible mark on global fashion, but with a similar bold audacity she has changed the rules of retail. the creative director of the comme des garçons empire is notoriously elusive, and seems to prefer to communicate solely through her awe-inspiring creative output. kawakubo's latest statement is in the realm of retail and concerns the much anticipated relocation of her iconic dover street market flagship. initially opened little over a decade ago at the eponymous address in london's leafy mayfair district, this emporium offered a new kind of shopping for an in-the-know demographic with an ever-evolving concept that would make each visit a blissful adventure.
not surprisingly, the store launch resonated with a big bang around the planet, and has eventually spawned equally popular sister establishments in tokyo, new york and beijing. as was announced earlier this year, the original store had closed down due to a remarkable relocation to new and much bigger premises, a few blocks away in st. james's, an area of town better known for its many theatres than high-end retail. but then again, kawakubo has a penchant for untrodden grounds when setting up shop. the new dover street market officially opens its doors on sat - mar 19 inside a listed five-storey building from the early 20th century.
the ornate façade with its many arches has obviously been retained, but once you step inside, you're instantly timewarped to kawakubo's inimitable retail universe. similar to the store's previous location, the premises – mind you, it measures no less than 31,384 sq.ft. [2,916 sqm.] – are dotted with alluring and imaginitive settings for product ranges, collections and brands, and most of these have designed by the mistress of the house herself. she wanted to embrace and enhance the original elements of the building, and as a result the original ceilings, windows and central staircase remain just as they were.
but once you step inside the store, you're instantly timewarped to kawakubo's inimitable shopping universe. as you can imagine there's a lot to discover, and yes, to shop. let's start on the ground floor, shall we? the space here is anchored by comme des garçons merchandise, and presents the lines comme des garçons homme plus, black comme des garçons and junya watanabe, in addition to a space dedicated to its line of bags, and another one replete with its coveted wallet range. also to be found here is the temporary luncheon kiosk, an exclusive presentation of the eponymous culture and lifestyle magazine, and an installation of original burberry raincoats.
one floor below, it's a veritable hipster heaven, featuring a slew of presentations by street cred brands such as undercover, nikelab, gosha rubchinskiy and junya watanabe man, in addition to a t-shirt space and one dedicated to palace decks. up on the second floor, fashion is shifting gear with collections by comme des garçons, comme des garçons shirt, céline, j.w.anderson, rick owens, vetements and dior, all presented in specially designed settings of their own. a multi-brand section with today's coolest crop of sartorial talent can also be found on this floor. out of breath? hold on until you've reached the next floor, please.
yes, there's more home concoctions up here with the comme des garçons homme deux line, albeit masterfully paired with thom browne, the row, gucci, sacai, and noir kei ninomiya, a rising star and kawakubo's protégé. also on this floor are two more multi-brand sections with the hottest selection of womenswear and menswear pieces. the fourth floor is not only home to the tricot comme de garçons and comme des garçons girl lines and a comme des garçons pocket shop, but also a handful of designer-dedicated sections. rose bakery, dover street market's popular in-house lunch spot with a menu of healthy bites, and an event space are also situated here.
currently on display at the latter venue is an installation of voluminous coats by emerging london-based designer frances von hofmannsthal. mind you, we haven't even begun to mention the many amazing and specially designed artworks and props – prick up your ears, this store even has specially composed sound art lingering – adorning almost every nook and cranny, crafted by kawakubo and a slew of carefully selected artists and designers, but we think the images shown here speak for themselves. you may find some pieces to be familiar as a handful has been transfered here from dover street market's previous location. happy shopping! new location: 18-22 haymarket [st. james's].