LONDON — After 15 years away from the retail scene, the multitasking fashion, costume, tableware and home-furnishings designer Jasper Conran is returning with a shop that’s all about pampering. The 8,000-square-foot space at 36 Sackville Street has drawing rooms and an outside terrace where customers can order wine and coffee while they buy everything from lingerie and bridal gowns to men’s suits, Wedgwood plates and scented candles.
“The service will be old-fashioned,” said Conran, glass of white wine in hand, during a walk-through of the store, which opens on Monday. “Customers will be taken care of in a way that will make their jaws drop. My hope is that people float out of here feeling like a queen — and that’s just the men.”
Conran, who will show his women’s wear collection today at the Royal Academy, took about a year to remodel the four-story Georgian building. He removed carpeting to reveal the original oak floors, acid-stripped the curving iron banisters and restored the original paneling and moldings. The store, which used to house a record company, is arranged like a house with a dining-room table set with Conran-designed Waterford crystal and Wedgwood china. The rooms are filled with furniture he designed.
Everything is for sale — from the crystal chandeliers that hang in almost every room to the lime-green leather wing chairs and lipstick-pink velvet seats and the rubber-coated Georgian furniture on the terrace. The rubberized furniture, Conran’s brainchild, comes in pastel shades of mint and baby pink, withstands the elements and doesn’t fade in the sun. “I’m just happy that Philippe Starck didn’t invent it first,” Conran said.
Innovation, after all, is in his genes. Conran is a son of the London-based design guru and entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Habitat and Conran home-furnishings stores, a group of London restaurants that includes Bluebird, Bibendum and Orrery and Conran Octopus publishers. His mother, Shirley Conran, is a long time ‘ rights advocate and writer best known for her bestsellers “Lace” and “Superwoman.”
True to his own multitasking spirit, Conran will also offer an architecture and design service at the store: “I’ve built so many houses in my life, I thought ‘Why not?’” The designer said he’s excited — and a little scared — about the prospect of opening the shop. (His first store, which opened on London’s Brompton Road in 1989, closed a few years later.)
“I have to follow my heart, and I’ll either sink or swim,” he said. “I think the store will give me great focus for my work. It will allow me to experiment, and I’m not going to restrain myself any longer. I’m unarmed and dangerous.”