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NEW YORK — Nicolas Ghesquière is not accustomed to bowing to convention — even when it comes to retail locales.
Instead of setting up shop on Madison Avenue or in SoHo, or even the newly hip meat-packing district, the designer has chosen West Chelsea as the site for a Balenciaga flagship here, the first in the U.S.
The 6,000 square-foot space at 542 West 22nd Street between 10th and 11th avenues was formerly a printing plant. Also on that block are the Comme des Garçons store and the Dia Center for the Arts. It’s hardly a retail haven for fashion powerhouses, but that’s likely the appeal for Ghesquière.
“It’s a neighborhood that Nicolas Ghesquière likes very much and thinks has a lot of potential,” said a spokesman for Balenciaga. “Plus, it’s the right space. He has always said that what he was looking for is the right space, and this one got his attention.”
The company plans to open the store early next year.
Gucci Group, which has controlling interests in Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, has been strengthening the brands in part by rolling out the first U.S. stores for each.
The McQueen shop bowed in late July on West 14th Street in the Meatpacking district, while the Stella McCartney store, just steps away from McQueen, will open later this month.
Balenciaga’s New York store will be the first to reflect Ghesquière’s retail design concept. The only existing Balenciaga shop, which is in Paris on Avenue George V, will be renovated to reflect Ghesquière’s design vision next year. The former men’s store next door has been closed for renovations and will reopen later as part of the women’s store. Eventually, both spaces will be connected.