The Dover Street Market experience is just what the doctor ordered. In all this time I’ve imagined it as a million different things but not the thing that it is; a world class shopping experience with real fashion up close and very personal.
Immediately upon entering the space discreetly tucked into the corner of Lexington and 30th street, you see a central glass encased elevator with a collaged hand-knitted sock covered column that stands about 30-40 feet. Eccentric interior design. To your left is a room of jewelry in glass cases. Each piece is unique and wildly inventive. Think golden bands with 1 or 2 perfect pearls set inside the band and not on the outside. The degree of luxury that this idea implies is subtle and wildly decadent.
The store started on London’s Dover Street by Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garcon and her husband. It is heavily stocked with many layers of the Commes Des Garcon empire. The store is a curated retail experience with no charming detail overlooked, starting with knowledgeable sales people who leave you alone until you need help. What a novel idea. High end, high edge fashion takes center stage but in a very easy going relaxed way; not scary, inviting.
Gucci, Vetements, Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Thom Browne, Sacai, CDG and other more obscure design labels are there and presented in separate areas that flow from one to the other. Accessories for men and women abound with small leather goods in a myriad of happy colors by CDG near a tower of Mark Cross miniature bags. Shoes and sneakers for men and women are interlaced throughout the store on its 7 levels. The sneakers are irresistable. Most are by Common Projects and CDG. The choices are tough as there are so many unusual styles in great colors.
The backpacks in the Gucci area are a taunt, an assault on the senses. They’re at once classic and yet tweaked and twisted with elaborate and intricate embroideries of larger than life bees and snakes and other creatures. Their eccentricity and obvious richness of materials and quality make them super desirable.
Each floor intrigues and tempts. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in a retail store that inspired me to experiment and play with what I wear. As a pretty conservative guy I was delighted to toss off my mantle of safe and quiet good taste and put on a Gucci red plaid overcoat over my shorts and polo shirt. It looked great, felt great and would have given my closet a well needed shove into the now. There were a number of great overcoats in luxe cashmere and double faced wool. Too many to choose, but better that than none.
Back down on the ground level we repaired to the cafe for delicious coffee and a smoothie. Everything about Dover Street Market was cool. After a few hours spent exploring every corner of every floor we left energized and with our hope restored that there are still some outposts for directional fashion that deliver the goods and make it fun.