April '09
We pay attention to retail
By Franklin Melendez
Martin Margiela, Munich
Germany—land of philosophers, tortured artists and perverts—is no stranger to high-concept design. So it will relish in the double assault this month by Maison Martin Margiela, which unveiled its first Deutsch flagship in Munich (Maximilianstrasse, 34, +49 (0) 89 242 11 446), while also feting the opening of the Margiela retrospective there. In the tradition of its other locations, the new store is housed in an offbeat space, this time a former Italian restaurant, which readily indulges the house’s penchant for visual puns. Original flooring and kitchen tiles blend cleverly into MMM's own witty outerwear and trompe l’oeil separates—like the much coveted disco-ball leggings for which we would consider a second mortgage on our apartment (were we to own one). And for those who wish to continue gorging, the Margiela feast continues just a short bike ride away, at the Haus der Kunst, where the traveling retrospective is making its second stop, after its premiere in Antwerp. These are things you have to see in person: the pointy shoulders, the flesh bodysuits, the single-legged pants and the now-famous wig jacket in all its Oz-like splendor.

With more conquests under belt than Hannibal, Rei Kawakubo continues to expand her fashion empire, which already includes fragrances, sublines, sub-sublines and a number of high-profile collaborations. Her latest foray? Magazines. Celebrating Vogue Nippon's tenth anniversary, Comme de Garçons' event shop in Tokyo's Aoyama district will host a special series of projects, concepts and merchandise—billed "a magazine you can walk into." It makes us wonder what other editorial thrones could be hers for the taking... If you brave the transatlantic flight to the Empire of the Sun, make sure to save room for the new Dries Van Noten boutique, which, with nary a cherry blossom in sight, tastefully gives the finger to all those blasé Orientalist clichés... Opening Ceremony moves to yet another phase of its carefully coordinated fashion takeover with a mini-mega-mall in Tokyo, slated for a fall debut. Expect the quirky, adorable, faux-nerdy staples and rare international finds that have made the New York store a hit. Presumably it will also be manned by an enviably lithe and mopish staff... H&M blooms into spring (or some other floral analogy) with its latest designer collaboration with Matthew Williamson. Not to be left in the dust by a certain British usurper, the Swedes still have a few fashion tricks up their fast sleeves. In addition to the colorful, floor-length print dresses, we suggest fighting for those scrumptious little leather jackets, jumpsuits and day-glo cocktail attire. You couldn't be in a bad mood even if you wanted to be... If you're feeling a bit more the lady, you can avoid the fast-fashion fray and ever-present risk of stampede by heading over to COS, H&M's upwardly mobile sister label, which just opened its first boutique in Paris, in the Marais district. With more luxurious fabrics and quality of construction, the set of boutiques promises a touch of class to your daily race. No plans yet for an American invasion, but like a wallflower at the country dance, we patiently await the overture.
Chloé, Los Angeles
Chloé has finally thrown open the French doors of its airy townhouse-style boutique in Los Angeles (8448 Melrose Place, 323-602-0000). This, after the usual starts and stops that made 2008 the Year of Unsightly Delays—or at least that's what we've dubbed it. But the past is the past, and the new arrival comes as fresh-faced and starry-eyed as Naomi Watts in the beginning of Mulholland Drive. And where would a Hollywood starlet be without a sturdy wedge and a flirty something from Chloé's new creative director, Hannah McGibbon, who has re-energized the house with her sunny, scalloped vision. Of course, no Tinseltown boutique would be worth its name in lights without a few bells and whistles. At Chloé, this means valet parking and a VIP lounge on the mezzanine overlooking the lush private courtyard. Oh yes, a courtyard, and if you're like us, you're hoping excitable shoppers will use the inspired architecture as a backdrop for sexy intrigue and lethal catfights over slouchy trousers and manish blazers—just in time for the Melrose Place remake!
Rick Owens, London
Fashion’s own Lord of the Shadows, Rick Owens, may have found his ideal habitat in the gloomy clime of London. Bleak and gray, it’s the perfect backdrop for his sculptural cassocks and other lugubrious pieces. As we reported in November, the gray cobblestone streets of the Mayfair district would house his first UK boutique (64 Audley St.), which finally opened after, all together now, “unexpected delays!” Designed by my friend and architect, Joseph Dirand, the space has an air of Romantic ruin, but with a modern austerity. "If the bones are good, you don't have to tart it up too much,” says Owens. “Joseph has a magic way of clearing the debris and getting a rational purity that always makes me feel good." And he means it, too. Completing the black magic is the macabre twist-de-résistance (and the store's centerpiece): a life-sized sculpture of Owens' head on a platter, a nod to London’s fave fop illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley. And there’s certainly plenty to lose your head over, including spring’s monastic looks, those Death Metal nuns and their inscrutable yet strangely appealing floppy footwear that makes us feel right as rain.

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