PARIS — Rei Kawakubo is eternally looking for the brand new: It’s how she designs her firm, her fashions and her retail shops.
Only some days after parading one among her most joyful, colourful collections in years, the Japanese style maverick unveiled an expanded Comme des Garçons flagship right here, its 4 ranges intersected with a colossal white column composed of what the corporate calls “amoeba” shapes, however which could additionally recall to mind the exhaust system of an area shuttle.
Behind a shiny purple door at 56 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which slides open as on a starship, are a number of improvements, with Kawakubo’s numerous collections displayed in small, staggered niches — breaking the monotony of flicking by way of lengthy rails of garments.
None of Kawakubo’s racks line up, and that was precisely her objective.
“A voyage of discovery,” she mentioned in an unique interview on Monday afternoon as employees scrubbed metal staircases and gross sales associates stuffed notches within the amoeba-like columns with completely folded knitwear, shiny purses, perfumes and colourful wallets.
Customers navigate round clusters of white amoebas, following serpentine paths that don’t reveal their ultimate vacation spot. You received’t discover many straight partitions, nor even a speck of marble, in any of the gleaming white areas.
“I needed to make a store the place folks can experiment, discover and uncover rooms one after the other,” Kawakubo mentioned, her Japanese phrases translated to English by her husband Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons Worldwide.
“I’m not satisfied that individuals actually are glad with purchasing on the web… I believe the pleasure of purchasing is discovering issues your self,” she mentioned, stressing that she considers the retail areas at Comme des Garçons as vital because the merch. “I needed to make the areas as fascinating and as new as all the garments that I make.”
The brand new location is roughly 50 % greater — and hundreds extra seen — than the earlier website, which had been tucked right into a courtyard off the identical tony thoroughfare for some 22 years.
The bigger, street-front location shelters a number of traces that have been beforehand solely obtainable at Comme des Garçons’ landmark Aoyama boutique in Tokyo, which was lately refurbished and doubled in dimension, and its flagship in New York Metropolis’s gallery-packed Chelsea district.
These embody Comme des Garçons Lady and cashmere variations of the favored Play line. All of those “Aoyama specials” are demarcated with an underline on the labels.
The Paris boutique may even be the one place on this planet to purchase Comme des Garçons furnishings, which has not been obtainable in the marketplace for greater than 30 years. Three metallic chair designs, first produced in 1987, have been re-edited and might be obtainable in purple for the primary time. They retail from 3,000 euros to three,800 euros.
Crimson is the featured shade of the 7,500-square-foot unit. The partitions backing the primary staircase and the money wrap are decked out in shiny purple fiberglass, which Kawakubo described as a carryover from the earlier location with its 160-foot-long undulating purple fiberglass wave emanating from the ceiling and the partitions.
Kawakubo mentioned she will be able to’t recall what initially impressed that boldly coloured function, however she had anointed purple as “the brand new black” after a seminal scarlet assortment again in 1988.
Comme des Garçons retains a small courtyard area reverse the earlier boutique for one among its Pocket ideas, housing primarily its Play assortment.
On Monday, Kawakubo invited a customer outdoors to take a look on the facade of the shop, previously dwelling to Burberry. All of the checkered branding had been faraway from across the giant entrance home windows, exposing metal backing that the designer left as is.
The chairs displayed behind the glass give no trace that it is a style boutique, in line with Kawakubo’s aversion to one thing as banal as placing a gown within the window.
The designer mentioned the amoeba-like fixtures have been born of a want to make “summary furnishings,” and transfer away from the straight partitions, angular cabinets and rectangular show instances present in most retail shops.
The Comme des Garçons Black assortment is displayed amid curving, skeletal fixtures in uncooked plywood — additionally with intentionally misaligned racks. All of the flooring are concrete.
Kawakubo collaborates with a building firm, however designs all retail areas herself, sketching out ideas on paper, and in addition constructing full-scale fashions of promoting flooring in Tokyo so she will be able to experiment and fine-tune the volumes, views and the shopper journey.
Kawakubo mentioned it was vital to place her Paris flagship on the stage of her Tokyo and New York flagships as a result of “lots of people with good eyes come to Paris.”
There’s a giant outside area emanating off the boutique’s second stage that can in future home a café, serving largely tea and desserts, based on Joffe.
The Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré affords a mixture of artwork galleries, embassies, the Élysée Palace and the Bristol Lodge. Nonetheless, there are nonetheless various outstanding style nameplates, together with the historic Hermès flagship, Brunello Cuccinelli, Lanvin, Roger Vivier, Tod’s, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and, coming quickly, an Alaïa flagship.
In the meantime, Kawakubo and Joffe plan to interrupt the retail mildew once more when a Paris department of Dover Road Market lastly opens in March 2024 within the stylish and bustling Marais district.
It’s slated to open within the grand Seventeenth-century city home at 35-37 Rue des Francs Bourgeois that Joffe has operated for the previous two years as a form of cultural heart internet hosting a freewheeling mixture of exhibitions, happenings, musical performances, model installations and retail areas.