MILAN — Leave it to Viktor & Rolf to literally turn designer retailing on its head.
The Dutch design wizards’ first signature shop just opened here with an upside-down decor that has oak parquet on the ceiling and chandeliers sprouting out of the floor.
“We wanted to give a new perspective on a shop,” said Viktor Horsting who, with Rolf Snoeren, designs one of the most conceptual collections in the business. “You really enter into a surrealistic world, the Viktor & Rolf world, where nothing is what it seems to be.”
Architect Siebe Tettero, who worked with the two designers on their stately new headquarters in Amsterdam, said that, when they approached him with their need to “twist the classic,” he opted to revisit the neoclassical style, which he described as the most “recognizable and familiar” design.
“There is a whole world of Nordic, Dutch and Swedish 18th-century variations on this style,” said Tettero.
Accordingly, the 750-square-foot store features all the archetypal elements of neoclassicism: intricately carved columns, capitals, an entrance flanked by two archways and double columns. “Symmetry is quintessentially neoclassic,” said Tettero.
The decor was entirely made by Italian craftsmen, who re-created the store in their shop to check that every upside-down fret was just right before installing it into the actual space on Via Sant’Andrea 14. “We took shots and turned the photos upside down. When the illusion was complete, we knew the store was ready,” said Tettero. The TV set showing the designers’ runway show is also upside down, encased in a white cabinet modeled after an 18th-century Swedish tiled stove. In each of the two rooms, there is a fireplace flanked by chairs, with mirrors above them.
“Well, underneath them, in this case,” Horsting corrected.
The architect also emphasized the preciousness of details, such as the chandeliers’ pure gold leaves and true crystal drops.
The women’s and men’s collections are housed in cabinets that line walls painted “middle gray.” The cabinets are shuttered by mirrors at night to give the space a pristine, gallery-like ambience — albeit a twisted one — with the logo welcome mat plastered to the ceiling.“This is a very young brand and it is indeed early on in the business to be opening a store, but I don’t feel it’s premature,” said Franco Pené, chairman of Gibó SpA, which produces the Viktor & Rolf collection and owns the new boutique. “The brand is mature, and the world of Viktor & Rolf is getting richer — we have even started producing a women’s pre-collection for fall-winter 2005,” said Pené.
Pené declined to provide sales projections for the boutique, but said he already was “very pleased” with the first few days of business. The boutique will be officially inaugurated on April 14, during the Salone del Mobile, the city’s pivotal international furniture and design exhibition, but has been open since Tuesday. The opening next week will be followed by a cocktail at the fashionable boutique 10 Corso Como for the Italian launch of the first Viktor & Rolf perfume, Flowerbomb, licensed by L’Oréal.
“The store allows us to understand the potential development of the brand and fine-tune the merchandise,” said Pené, adding that he enjoys the design of the store, as it is a reminder of a “traditional, luxurious past, but also a break from it.”
For Horsting and Snoeren, the boutique represents an important milestone for their label, which generates wholesale revenues approaching $10 million and is currently on a growth drive. As reported, the designers recently inked new licensing agreements for shoes, underwear, silk scarves and neckties.
But the Milan boutique represents the first time all the designers’ products will be housed under one roof — or should we say, above?
“It will really make clear what we stand for,” Horsting said. “It’s also really going to help us to see what people like, what they buy, what they don’t buy — and adapt from that.”
The boutique also provides an opportunity to sell some of the “couture” pieces featured by Viktor & Rolf in every runway show — and other special designs.
Pené approached the designers about the location, formerly occupied by Marni, and the duo jumped at the opportunity. “Milan is such a shopping city,” Horsting noted. “We also liked the idea of being able to experiment a bit with the first store. Our work is always about playing with existing elements and twisting them into something new and exciting.”Although no major retail rollout is planned, the designers relish the prospect of future locations.
“We would love to have a chain,” said Horsting, citing ambitions to have Viktor & Rolf boutiques in such fashion capitals as Paris, New York, Tokyo and Los Angeles.
But don’t expect the duo to let the inverted fixtures become a cliché.
“We love the idea of surprise, so for the stores, it’s no different,” Horsting said.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye