Dover Street Market

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There may be some of you who are heading here for the Silly Season: the Royal Ascot, the Chelsea Flower Show, the opening of the Royal Academy Summer Show, private parties whatever the weather in the Physic Gardens…etc,. And you will want to take a look at what is new here in the Global City, restaurants, theater, and shops! The newest of the new is the hippest shop in London, which used to be, of course, on Dover Street, and is now on Haymarket. Go figure.

Dover Street Market, which is actually Commes Des Garçons, with other designer concessions thrown in, is a very particular collection of clothes, some generally wearable, some wearable by a few, some un-wearable by any measure but by the most righteously adventurous, and some totally not wearable by anyone in their right mind.

Vetements, the newest and the hippest label of the moment is a prime example. I tried on one of their jackets in a gorgeous vibrant purple. The vendeuse said it was the latest, hottest of the oversized over shouldered, long sleeved numbers and they were running, not walking out of the shop. (That and the DHL logo T-shirt). I actually hadn’t thought of a DHL T-shirt as my usual social haunts run to dinners in clubs and meanders into local think tanks, but the oversize jacket idea, it seemed so cool, so now. I saw a young Japanese woman try on a Vetements sleeveless tattered long vest, imagined myself in the purple jacket and went for it. Uh oh. Shoulders like a Green Bay Packer. Enormous puffy sleeves that ended well beyond my fingernails, square body like a cereal box, and ultimately ridiculous and shapeless on me. Needless to say I didn’t put it aside. Upon further exploration upstairs, however, I found my favorite brand, Casey Casey from Paris. They do beautiful things that look like they come from Oxfam but are actually clean, sweet smelling, made in cosy luxury fabrics, and easy to use to blend into the local summer zeitgeist, aka cold. They are also very wrinkled which is logical as everything gets that way anyway. Nice to know that wrinkles are “in.”

The shop is architecturally a convert of a typical old London office building. It used to house the administrators at Burberry. They have dragged the structure kicking and screaming into the 21st century, which means they have retrieved what was useful (like the scraped wooden winding staircase up to the third floor) and inserted metal and glass curving entities everywhere they could. There are floods of natural light, and it is all a magic mystery tour.

When all is said and done and you have had THE EXPERIENCE, Dover Street Market is clothes, bags, shoes, and very expensive trendy jewelery that you won’t find elsewhere – at least you won’t find it all in the same place. You will recognize the names Celine, Dior, Gucci, Rick Owens, Alaia; you may not recognize the unusual hand of the buyer. Whoever chooses, rules.

The customers run the gamut from middle-aged in designer jeans, to young and overly tattooed, to Chinese and Japanese teenagers, and the fashion victim posse. Young people hang outside the hallowed doors working up their courage to go in.

I wasn’t too awed. The guard at the door was friendly in cropped trousers and neon-colored running shoes. Everyone wears ear pieces, obviously the new accessory for top shops. But I rather liked it. You might too. It is in the heart of theater, cinema and restaurant land and thus potentially very entertaining indeed.

Kaaren Hale

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