May '09
We pay attention to retail
By Franklin Melendez
Marc by Marc Jacobs, London
Housed in a former Savings and Loan, the new Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique in London might very well be a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the current retail climate. After all, did you really expect a little global recession to cramp Jacobs' quirky style? We didn't either. The new space retains traces of its former inhabitants, like basement vaults converted into witty displays for bags and shoes, with enough affordable loot to tempt even penny-pinching Londoners scurrying about like extras from A Christmas Carol. Prices start at a single pound for one of those lipstick pens, and there's a smart smattering of arty coffee table books and leather key rings—the bare bones of souvenirs. Of course, you'll have to cough up out quite a few more shillings for a Hillier leather hobo bag, but Robert Duffy is quick to note that even the most bereft can splurge on a cashmere anklet sock (apparently just one). This is just the beginning, with over thirty Marc by Marc Jacobs store launches planned worldwide, including Honolulu, Mexico City, Lisbon and Taipei.

Maison Martin MargielaMaison Martin Margiela
click images to enlarge
Clearly, if there are living rooms in the afterlife, they will be furnished by Maison Martin Margiela—and not just for their whiteness. That much was evident during Italy's recent Salone del Mobile design week, where triple-M debuted its long-awaited home collection with a glorious installation of furniture prototypes and home objects—bookshelves, lamps, wallpaper, carpets—that evolved from a few modest pieces produced to furnish boutiques. Like some portentous revelation from the Good Book itself, the transformed space gave a glimpse of a better world shaped by the divine vision of Martin the Creator. Of course, there was a good dose of trompe l'oeil Daliesque zaniness, such as rugs and wallpaper impersonating doors, mirrors, ceilings and floors. But perhaps most shocking of all was the simplicity of the design, which avoided both clichéd modernist austerity and sugary retro-pastiche. Elegant, refined and homey, this is clearly the work of a higher power. Look for one-off objects, limited-edition items and partnerships in next spring.
Marni, New York
Who says Madison Avenue is the exclusive pasture for Bunny McDougal lookalikes walking Yorkshire terriers in mothball-scented Chanel tweeds? Well, okay, but Marni might very well change that, unveiling its second New York location smack in the Upper East Side. Needless to say, the intrepid label is bringing with it its signature arty flairs. Housed in a former art gallery, the two-level space features geometric cut-outs and other architectural details that inspire the liberal use of words like “trapezoidal.” These sculptural touches perfectly offset designer Consuelo Castiglioni’s coveted wares, which nestle into their nooks like jewel-encrusted arts and crafts projects. To celebrate the occasion, a special selection of clothing and accessories will be released exclusively for the store. And if you need added incentive for the uptown trek, be reminded that the shopping competition will be considerably less nimble and quick.

  Alexander Wang for Gap
You just can’t take the bad girl out of Alexander Wang. Tapped for Gap's latest collaboration, the wunderkind may have put aside the lycra and leather, but even working in khaki he still rocks an attitude with a trench and motorcycle jacket… Just because the Met Ball is over is no reason to put away all those millinery confections, especially now that Chanel-trained ingénue Ryan Wilde has debuted her custom hat shop in Williamsburg (109 Broadway), offering a made-to-measure service for her unique head-topiaries… The Kaiser is Kremlin-bound, scheduled to re-stage his “Paris-Moscow” Chanel collection in Moscow in late May. We expect a front row dripping with jewels and furs regardless of the temperature outside. While in town he’ll also fete a temporary Chanel boutique, which has reportedly been stripped clean by eager shoppers… Along with more April showers, May brings the second installment of Matthew Williamson for H&M. Though some have grumbled of a “lukewarm” reception (apparently no one was trampled), the first batch still cleared out in minutes. The second wave is heavy on the swimwear and, more importantly, Williamsons’ first foray into menswear, which somehow manages to transform splashes of florals into a swarthy, tanned and toned Latin style.
Sydney's, Toronto
Canadian men's fashion—long associated with the streamers, leotards and sequins of figure skating—has undergone a quiet revolution, thanks in part to Sydney’s, the visionary Toronto-based retailer responsible for introducing a bevy of forward-thinking designers to the land of moose and winter sports. With the recent launch of its e-shop, Sydney's is now poised to bring their dapper vision to the entire continent, if not the world. Look for online exclusive from The Viridi-Anne (seen here), Raf Simons, Julius, Dries Van Noten, Miharayasuhiro, Attachment and Nicolo Ceschi Berrini (formerly of Carpe Diem), as well as more gentlemanly staples from the likes of Band of Outsiders. Sydney also offers a bespoke service, with plans in the works for a namesake line. It may not be the best gear to attempt a triple axel, but it certainly provides a better photo-finish on the podium.

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