LONDON — There’s no place like home: It was the magical phrase that sent Dorothy and her ruby slippers straight back to Kansas and to her beloved Aunt Em in “The Wizard of Oz.” Now Diego Della Valle is using it as inspiration for his new retail concept on Sloane Street in London.
Della Valle, who has been upping the creative bar at Tod’s in a year of strategy shift for the company, on Saturday opened the Tod’s Sloane Apartment Boutique, a one-off store with interiors by the Paris-based architect and designer India Mahdavi.
Guests included DJ Lou, Lady Alice Manners, Lady Eliza Manners and Lady Kitty Spencer who were wearing the brand’s black pony ankle boots or black velvet mules.
“The message I gave to India was to create a friendly and pleasant atmosphere, where our ‘friend-of-the-brand guests’ could feel at ‘Tod’s home’ — and not as if they were in a simple boutique,” said Della Valle in an interview.
Mahdavi answered the call by transforming the long-standing Tod’s Sloane Street store with a kaleidoscope of earthy color, from the oversize saffron velvet corner sofa to the raspberry pink de Gournay wallpaper to the yellow, handwoven sisal rug from Guatemala.
A small cocktail bar near the front doubles as the payment area, while a long dining table serves as a shoe and bag display. Nearby, steps partially hidden by velvet curtains looks as if they lead to a boudoir, while the red and black lacquered tables and shelves hold books and objects.
“Diego wanted an experience rather than a shop,” said Mahdavi. “He wanted an apartment – a place that was comfortable, elegant and easygoing.”
Mahdavi said she was eager to redefine the brand through the store, and wanted to tap into the “ease, luxury and relatability” of the Tod’s Gommino. She said she wants clients to make themselves comfortable on the sofa and have coffee while they try shoes on.
Rotating bookshelves in the windows, she said, give the space a sense of movement, while punches of color lift the mood. Indeed, the designer was adamant about using color. “The stores are always associated with beige and silver, but color is integral to the history of Tod’s — and I wanted the space to be happy.”
The downstairs men’s area is meant to look more like a club, with a banquette running along the walls and display niches for the shoes. There is more to come from Tod’s: Della Valle confirmed there will be other boutiques like Sloane Street — at least two more — located “in quite special cities,” he said.
Mahdavi, whose repertoire includes home, retail and restaurant interiors (she’s done the Red Valentino stores in Rome and London; The Gallery at Sketch on Conduit Street, and the grand, marbled entrance to Claridge’s, among other projects) said her retail clients are asking increasingly for experiential design.
“They want a space that transports you, that allows you to dream. They want an emotion, comfort — something that goes beyond buying.”
The opening is part of a wave of change for Tod’s as Della Valle seeks to reshape the company for a generation of customers via frequent deliveries and creative collaborations.