Dover Street Market: "Unique"...comme quoi?

When in New York, I spent an hour at Dover Street Market, the latest outpost of the London operation created by Rei Kuwakubo of Comme des garçons, an assemblage of boutiques (or "landscapes") and a bakery stacked in seven small, see-through floors of a heritage building.

If a place can be so hip it hurts, Dover Street Market is Guantanamo Bay. DSM could make even Colette habitués feel out of it, never mind a 65 year old retiree in walking sandals, department store shopping bag under her arm, and, I imagine, a wary look.

Atlantique Ascoli blouse
But the young multilingual staff were sweetly polite. Then, they could be—the place was essentially empty on a Wednesday afternoon. They babysat brands like Atlantique Ascoli and CDG collaborations with the likes of Nike and the Beatles. (The cotton/linen blouse shown is over $650 and...dry clean only!)

If you just booked your first DJ gig, here is your boutique. So, what was I, who decided not to buy a store logo nylon shopper for $65—the kind local boutiques give away—doing there?

I thought I ought not crumple the memo from the arty edge and "see what they are wearing", as my mother would say.

Defying the normcore movement, where young adults flock to fleece and fannypacks, DSM showcases pricey, refined clothes (origami-fold dresses, sneakerhead-heaven shoes) and a few surprises like the exquisite classic leather bags from the French firm Moynat. ($3,000 for a small 'starter' bag.)

Second, the Market occupies a landmark building, the former New York School of Applied Design for Women and Touro College, now a seven-floor transparent tree house with one (slow, tiny) glass elevator. Drifting up and up, I decided during a weekend the space would be claustrophobic.

Open since late winter, the DSM has already drawn fire as yet another temple to high-priced posturing while designers like Donna Karan call it "unpretentious" and "so 'street'". But view it as an an art project; if you wanted a deal, you'd be at Loehmann's—if it were still open.

The point of such stores is to sidestep the safe and "nice", whether by American Apparel or Eileen Fisher. At some point in our lives, women want something a little different. Most of us left those days behind with our fringed vests, while a few eccentric dressers plunge in even further as they age.

On entering, I urged myself, Why be so conventional? Maybe buy something 'advanced'! 

Despite my openness, the clothes were too young or avant-garde (or both) for me, but I would have happily carried the Moynat "Pauline" travel bag on my homebound train ride!

This tee ($19 on sale), by Montréal's Bonnetier reminds us: "I'm unique, like everyone":

Aren't we just?


une femme said…
Cute tee! I often wonder who comprises the market for the very, very expensive avant-garde? I have to imagine it's a very, very small subset. Or wealthy tourists from other parts of the world. Those bags are gorgeous, though. Every now and then I go browse the boutiques on Melrose (closer to me than Silverlake, which right now has the max hipster cred) just to get a sense of the edges of the style universe.

(You mention Colette; when we stopped in there last month, they were all about the Normcore. Sneakers and 50 Euro tees.)
Cornelia said…
Yup, and some of us are just a bit uniquer than others, non???
Anonymous said…
Hmm, "temple to high-priced posturing" seems accurate enough--can't help wondering what they charge for a cupcake at the bakery!

That white blouse, edgy yet lovable, looks very much like one I wore when I lived in New York in the early eighties. Mine probably cost $20, but it was made of very fine white cotton, and totally washable, though exacting to iron.

Most clothes like these require supple young bodies. Like Une Femme, I ask myself how many women are young enough to wear them and rich enough to buy them?

Duchesse said…
une femme: Just can't bear Colette; feel oppressed by pretension. NYC is epicenter of the increasing wealth gap- plenty of 1% kids and tourists who are there to bag the coolest gear. Occasionally I am moved by something but lots of times only feel sticker shock.

(I have the tee shown.)

Cornelia: "So unique", "truly unique", "the most unique"- right?

C: $5 for my plain, smaller than average scone, $6-$8 for a pot of tea. Overpriced, but like a Parisien café you are also paying for the privilege of being there ;)

There are quite a few rich young women there, or visiting.
Mardel said…
Even the small subset is not so tiny, given the numbers -- 1% of a large population is enough, and as you rightly point out, NYC is the epicenter of a huge wealth gap, but you won't find something like that most other places. Although there are things about NY I miss, if you are interested in the arts it is hard not to come face to face with that gap daily. I don't miss that at all.

I think it would be worth a visit, remembering that it is a different world in many ways.
LauraH said…
Every time I see something very expensive - usually clothing or furnishings - I'm rather shocked...and then I find out that those things aren't in the stratosphere at all! There always seems to be a new higher high.
LPC said…
You make feel just like I'm in New York. Which is a good thing:).
diverchic said…
That white blouse looks like it is on backwards. I loathe it.
I was thinking the same about that white blouse, and it also makes the model, presumably slender, look very chunky.

I don't usually like "slogan" tees, but I do like that one, as it makes one think, and the writing isn't too "in your face". I also like this one from Simons in Montreal: with cursive writing

Of course I like the upright Dutch Omafiets (granny bike), but one can find those for a better price and better customer service at bicycle shops.

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