Synergy is everything.
In advance of showing its spring 2016 collection in New York on Sept. 11, Givenchy has opened a store at 747 Madison Avenue, returning the brand to the famed shopping street the house vacated when it closed its original store nearby in 2006.
The 4,300-square-foot, high-ceiling enclave houses Givenchy’s women’s collections on the first floor within an environment of clean lines defined by the kind of high contrast that is an essential element of the work of creative director Riccardo Tisci. Here, it’s realized in blocks of chic, stark white and black lacquer for an aesthetic at once strong and intentionally discreet. “We had the concept of an art gallery where basically things disappear to make the product stand out,” said chief executive officer Philippe Fortunato during a walk-through on Thursday afternoon. “Typically in buildings like this, you have an upstairs and a much lower ceiling. We removed part of the ceiling to create this height, which is not structurally normal on the Upper East Side apartment buildings.”
As per the gallery conceit, large campaign photos hang from the ceiling. Fortunato noted that these “just happen to be from the campaign,” and that at any given time, the space might be used to showcase artwork unrelated to the collection. And there’s a dearth of shelving — handbags and shoes are arranged on long, graphic black-and-white blocks.
The women’s floor is merchandised to address three customers. A relatively simple black-and-white selection of dresses and separates addresses the woman who swings classic. Fortunato noted that while these clothes are pre-fall, the intention is not to segregate. “We decided to present [this mood] not only in pre-fall because that’s what everybody is doing, but continuously from pre-collection to runway, and to increase connectivity between the two collections.” He added that Tisci “is very involved in the overall concept, development of the collection, form pre-fall to runway.”
An evening-oriented section is “like second-skin for us, because of our DNA — furs, cocktail dresses, evening dresses, everything relating to the social scene and red carpet.” And there’s runway. Here, a tight selection from Tisci’s remarkable fall collection including moody peacock prints and a lavishly beaded military-inspired jacket priced at $29,500. “When it comes to our ready-to-wear, our craftsmanship, people do not [take issues] with our prices,” Fortunato said. “We have expensive products but there’s a lot of value in the products. That’s something people come for. And the Madison clientele has that fashion element.”
Men’s, housed in the mezzanine, radiates a different feel. “We are definitely on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but we know people here love going between the north and south side of the city,” Fortunato said, noting that the house’s men’s customer is “younger, more street-inspired” than its women’s clientele. Intended to look edgier — more of a downtown vibe — the mezzanine also looks more gentle; its icy pale green subway tiles in casual contrast to the urbane chic of the lower floor.
Speaking of contrasts, as noted, the gallery concept was invoked to let the merch stand out. Yet while working through the waning days of his vacation, Tisci requested from afar that said merchandise be removed prior to the photo session featured here to let the architecture shine. What’s that old line — “Consistency is the hobgoblin of mundane fashion?” Or something like that.
Interior of the new Givenchy store at 747 Madison Avenue.