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A Look at Dover Street Market’s Beauty Space in L.A.

"How can I personify DSM into beauty?" said curator Race Willard.

“It’s the only store in the world that carries a Comme des Garçons fragrance and a condom,” said Race Willard with a smile. The artist and photographer created Dover Street Market’s first beauty space, located inside the multibrand retailer’s Los Angeles location.

“I wanted something that would be an aesthetic that was my sensibility as an artist,” he continued. “I like minimalism, function, and I have a big sense of humor.”

It’s a play on the conventional beauty counter. The area, which can be found within the store, is a U-shaped illuminated structure with rows of products perfectly aligned and organized by category: hair, skin care, fragrance. At its center is a rectangular box filled with drawers of cosmetics and tools. Highly curated, there’s a variety of familiar brands — an Evian facial spray, Bioderma’s travel size Sensibio H2O, supplements by Hum Nutrition, Oribe hair care — with pricing ranging greatly. Included in the selection are $8 false lashes by Lashes in a Box; $18 soap bars by Binu Binu; $20 oil pulling mouthwash by The Dirt; $24 CBD-infused body butter by Gara; $46 body oil by Fur; $62 candles by Maison Margiela, and $75 face mask sets by Joanna Vargas. For the traveler on the go or a beauty lover looking for something new, there’s a Dover Street Market approved item available, whatever the need.

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“We may share products, but the perspective and how it’s presented is completely different,” Willard said of the goods. There’s also medicine cabinet finds like aspirin and Vaseline. It’s a one-stop shop, he said.

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“To me, luxury is ease,” he added. “I wanted Rx to meet luxury. Keep it cute, concise, easy.” And gender-fluid? “Yes, hair doesn’t have a gender. Skin doesn’t have a gender.”

When creating the space, Willard wanted it to blend with the “beauty that Rei has created here,” he said of Dover Street Market, which was opened in London in 2004 by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, before expanding to New York City, Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing and, since this year, L.A. at 608 Imperial Street.

“The demographic that is here, I don’t know if they want to go to a department store,” Willard said of downtown L.A.’s beauty consumers. “This is a very large, diverse demographic…not being serviced.”

The products in the space will rotate depending on the season. “We’re evolving as I believe beauty is,” he said. “The evolution of beauty is changing tremendously so it will constantly be updated.”

The beauty space — which also has an online presence — exclusively sells cosmetics company UZ and hair-care line Mr. Smith, which is usually found in professional hair salons. But what seems to excite Willard most are the brand collaborations he has in the works for 2020, though he was mum on details.

Ultimately, Dover Street Market is “outside the box, progressive,” and Willard wants the beauty space to reflect that: “I ask myself, ’How can I personify DSM into beauty?’”