Roberto Crivello and Savania Davies-Keiller’s new 2,500-square-foot DDCLab flagship at 7 Mercer Street in SoHo highlights the designers’ use of high-tech fabrics and performance design with Space Age elements, such as a hexagonal futuristic space pod, glass boxes floating in midair and plexi honeycomb tubing. The designers call the store “a modern Noah’s Ark,” where the dominant species is shoppers, and bits of the past and present reside comfortably with the future.
The duo, who met in 1992, founded a design studio that attracted clients such as Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap and DuPont. They opened their first DDCLab store on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side in 1997. “We’ve always been about keeping our heads down and doing the work without having to get the industry’s permission,” Davies-Keiller said. “There’s something amazing about seeing your concept nondiluted.”
As the Orchard Street clientele grew, the designers phased out their other clients. That is, until New Balance approached them to consult for the brand four years ago. They were named global creative directors of the activewear firm in August.
The fruits of the DDCLab-New Balance collaboration can be seen at the front of the SoHo store, where sneakers are displayed in glass boxes dangling from the ceiling. A limited edition model, $498, uses a silver reflective fabric made with crushed glass that glows in the dark. An abstract jungle gymlike structure displays sneaker pairs, which are laced together and casually thrown over the playground apparatus’ pipes like old shoes dangling from a light post. A large display and storage console made from found light and dark wood pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle holds yet more sneakers.
Electronic doors lead to the main part of the store. “This area is very high tech,” Crivello said, pointing to the space pod. “We’ve made fabric from spider’s webs, soy, corn and organic hemp.” The pair has developed climate control fabric that regulates body temperature and metal Inox that shield against the sun’s harmful rays. Jackets have antiradiation pockets to protect against cell-phone and iPod radiation and copper pocket details guard against identity theft.
Inside the space pod, a sheath dress in the silver sneaker fabric and lined with ruby fabric, $790, hangs next to a matching hoodie, $890. A hooded jacket with leather zipper pulls, $320, contains Tyvek, which is used in home construction.
In the center of the store, surrounded by pencil cacti and other foliage, salvaged wood beams transformed into a display table hold leather jackets and belts. DDCLab’s Lycra leather jeans, $798, have a unique construction where the Lycra is bonded to the leather. “They’re breathable, stay tight on the legs and have complete recovery,” says Davies-Keiller. “There’s no bagging.” The pants come in a rocker style for $900. A silver leather dress with seam details is $1,680.
A massive 50-year-old tree trunk from California looks like it’s growing from the patch of Astroturf beneath it. The nearby dressing rooms are covered with black leather curtains for an edgy look. The designers have carved out space in the store for an educational area with exhibits on how fabric is made, with raw materials displayed in clear plastic tubes. There’s a “syllabus” of reading materials for those who want to learn more.
Considering DDCLab’s rarified prices, consumers may want to know the backstory of a garment. For example, why does a trenchcoat cost $2,500? Because the fabric used the antielectro-magnetic field pockets is very expensive, Crivello said. Other pieces have labor-intensive finishing processes, such as a hand-painted shearling coat, $2,400. A jacket with a wood grain pattern embodies the DDCLab philosophy of blending high-tech with nature. The fabric, made from Japanese wood pulp woven with silk, costs $350 a yard. The jacket is $5,000.
The DDCLab designers have put everything they need within reach of the new store. The design studio is adjacent to the flagship, while the basement houses patternmakers, seamstresses and a lab where Crivello and Davies-Keiller experiment with fabrics and colors.
“We’re eventually turning all our DDCLab stores into this concept,” Crivello said of units in the Meatpacking District and on Melrose Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast