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Dover Street Market Is Quietly Gestating In No Man's Land

DSM-8-16-13The next few months will bring the openings of some highly anticipated stores. Valentino's long awaited townhouse on Madison Avenue finally opened its doors today, while its old home a few blocks away is currently being re-imagined by the folks at Alexander McQueen. Of course, everyone is curious to see how Alexander Wang's vision for Balenciaga's Mercer Street boutiques will turn out, and even H&M has some lavish flagship offerings to unveil before the year's end, but the most important upcoming store of the year is also the one with the lowest profile. The latest iteration of Comme des Garçons' multi-brand emporium, Dover Street Market is being conjured up behind granite walls on a particularly prosaic corner of Lexington Avenue and 30th Street that you could easily miss, and that's the point.

You won't see a giant campaign image blown up on this storefront like the ones covering Balenciaga or McQueen. There's not so much as a "Coming Soon" sign on the façade, and the only indication that there is anything happening inside this particular building is the collection of construction permits discreetly taped to a side window. The store put up an e-commerce site featuring some of the Comme des Garçons diffusion and fragrance products when it was initially announced last December, but otherwise, little more pre-opening information released. The century-old, fortresslike building it will inhabit, elegant but just a tad forbidding, fits well with Comme des Garçons chief Rei Kawakubo's consistently contrarian attitude in choosing locations for her stores. Exactly nobody has been touting the Kips Bay/Rose Hill neighborhood as Manhattan's next retail Mecca —so it's perfect.

Why will Dover Street Market be the year's most important new store? Take a look at the websites for the other two DSM branches in Tokyo and London and you will see a mix of the great international designer brands of the moment —Céline, Alaïa, Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, etc.— esoteric faves like Ann Demeulemeester, Marni and Rick Owens, cult brands like Thom Browne and Visvim plus, most importantly, a healthy serving of designers you probably haven't heard of yet —all tailored to the tastes of each city. Naturally, the various Comme des Garçons labels will be mixed throughout the store as well, but the store's merchandising concept and pedigree have the potential to challenge hometown favorites like Opening Ceremony and Kirna Zabête to be the city's most influential retailer, and that's saying a lot. It is certainly the store The Shophound is most anxious to walk into the moment it opens, but for now, the site is serenely quiet, confident that the right customers will go out of their way to find it when the doors open later this year.

Dover Street Market (Official Site)


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