January '09
We pay attention to retail
By Franklin Melendez
Maison Martin Margiela, London
Is it just us, or is a smile widening across the proverbial poker face of Maison Martin Margiela? There's always been a hint of humor at the house, but the 20th anniversary show in September was all but a punch line, complete with a giant bon anniversaire cake sloshing down the catwalk. More Moschino than Margiela, it’s certainly not what we’ve come to expect from one of fashion’s most rigorous and demanding innovators (we're still trying to figure out the numbering system). Then again, MMM is all about the unexpected. Whatever the case, the new London boutique follows suit, tapping into this newfound whimsy with extra abandon. Just across the way from the old Bruton Place location, the space re-imagines the Margiela lexicon with a healthy dose of fun. Sure, there are the mirrors, negative space and something about the building being a “found object,” but it all comes together with a playful neo-Dada charm. Giant letters strewn about, clusters of white balloons and disco balls galore—it’s like one of Warhol’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, but with better clothes. And clearly the mood is infectious, as Londoners turned out in droves to fete the opening, collectively attesting to an important lesson: being conceptual doesn’t have to be so serious.
Jil Sander Denim
Raf Simons starts off the New Year with a blue period at Jil Sander, producing an exclusive denim line for men. But don’t expect distressed cut-offs or statement studding from the capsule collection, to hit stores later this month. Instead, the reigning king of minimalism offers what he does best: modern, pared-down classics. Bringing a surgeon's precision to raw denim, Simons transforms the humble jean—in shades of off-white, blue and gray—into a luxury staple. Chromatically spare and exactingly tailored, the result is less sportswear than an expert twist on smart dressing. Imagine casual Fridays at the labs of Gattaca. It comes pre-packaged and sealed in limited-edition navy boxes—perfect for smuggling, re-gifting and/or collecting DNA samples.
Louis Vuitton, Stephen Sprouse
Marc Jacobs revisits the collection that launched a thousand imitators. Nearly a decade after its initial splash, the new Stephen Sprouse collection from Louis Vuitton takes up the legacy of those iconic graffiti monogrammed bags, offering the next generation of clone-worthy accessories—bags, shoes, wallets, cell phones, skateboards—along with a full range of separates for men and women. More an evolutionary homage to the influential artist than a trip back to the archives, the collection adds a few twists. Along with those irreverent scribbles, Jacobs introduces Sprouse’s favored digitized rose print in an array of day-glo hues. You can find it on anything from Speedy bags and jeans to T-shirt dresses and Velcro sneakers. Learn from the mistakes of history and add yourself to the wait list now, or be doomed to scour the alleyways of Canal Street for consolation.


  Avant Premiere, Maison Martin Margiela
Giving us one more reason to look forward to 2009, Maison Martin Margiela is braving the new frontier of inter-seasons with its Avant Première line (pictured here). If not quite a diffusion, the collection features sixty asymmetric (note the lapel) styles for men and women at a more modest price. So whatever you call it, it’s music to our ears... Confederacy proves there’s more to L.A. fashion than maturing hipsters and American Apparels. The brainchild of uber-stylist-turned-buyer Ilaria Urbinati, the Los Feliz boutique brazenly displays unabashed chic among strip malls and taco stands. With heavy hitters such as Proenza Schouler, Comme des Garçons, Etro and Band of Outsiders, there's plenty to fill the ample space, which also features an open courtyard and gallery. Of course, this wouldn’t be L.A. without a resident celeb-cum-DJ co-owner, who's none other than Danny Masterson (aka the stoner from That '70s Show)… Rag & Bone celebrates their ongoing success (ahem, Charlize and Pete in the front row) with their first stand-alone men's boutique on Christopher Street, just a stone’s throw from their women’s flagship—perfect for his ’n’ hers celebrity shopping trips and TMZ photo ops… Who says Leeds is just another dour industrial town in the UK? Menswear label Electronic Poet is livening up the landscape, unveiling its concept shop Paper Scissor Stone Store. Look for Wood Wood, Rittenhouse and Eley Kishimoto. It may not change the weather, but it’s a much-needed ray of sunshine.
V Store
With his quirky proportions and colors, Danish wunderkind Henrik Vibskov has carved his own unique niche in the fashion world, falling somewhere between daring innovator and children’s morning show host. Fall’s polka-dot, full-body “seal suit,” for instance, could easily be enjoyed over a bowl of Lucky Charms. In which case, the new online V Store may very well be the pilot, as Vibskov gathers his whimsical style friends into one sprawling e-shop. An offshoot of his boutiques in Copenhagen and Oslo, the online store features the likes of Bernhard Willhelm, Walter Van Beirendonck and Bless. And for parental guardians, the shop offers a wide array of books and limited-edition magazines. Plus, in addition to the full Vibskov collection, there’s his collaboration with the children’s line Quinny—a match made in sandbox heaven.

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