Not Just A Shop: Dover Street Market, Paris

Housed in a 18th century townhouse, Dover Street Market opens in Paris, designed by Rei Kawakubo and resplendent with the daring and the desirable throughout

Sometimes a good dose of serendipity and a whole lot of risk-taking energy go into making an exceptional design environment – a place where you want to shop, mingle, learn and feel those frissons of excitement when happen on encountering something special. The new Dover Street Market in Paris (the 8th in the global network of stores) is a wonder to behold, a place to get lost in and emerge fulfilled. 

A new DSM location was not really on the cards until owners Adrian Joffe and Kawakubo discovered a beautiful 17th century townhouse, Hotel du Coulanges, near the Place du Vosges was up for development and the seed was planted.  The residence once belonged to a pioneering woman of letters, Madame de Sevigne, who like Kawakubo did not care to follow other people’s rules. De Sevigne might well be looking down on the new incarnation of the townhouse with a wry smile as legions of style connoisseurs and fashion fans scamper through the doors to explore the three-storey wonderland that spills out onto a courtyard and into basement levels. Radical thinking might be in the bones of the building: the space was formerly occupied by the activist think tank Association 3537.

As with all DSM locations, the entire store has been designed by Rei Kawakubo with curvilinear alcoves and gleaming white sculptural displays, including the convivial café Rose Bakery. There are no brand concessions and as in London no clothing will be visible from the outside. The design works in a zig to the zag of current luxury design with all its obvious ‘show.’ Instead, visitors are required to work a bit harder and dig a bit deeper.

Dover Street Market Paris

@doverstreetmarketparis // Instagram

Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market Paris

@doverstreetmarketparis // Instagram

Kawakubo and Joffe ( known for their avoidance of description and explanation) quote ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu to help map the intention. Lau Tzu said “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  And DSM since its first incarnation in London 20 years ago, seeding and sprouting out to Ginza, to Beijing, to Singapore, Los Angeles and New York, has always been about surprise with its melange of Comme des Garcons and its big family of designers and brands including Junya Watanabe, Simone Rocha, Sacai, Noir and so many more. 

“DSMP is therefore an experiment in the un-understanding of the next steps in our journey. It will not be only another shop. It is in fact already a building in which we hope to build and open a new pathway ahead, building on everything we have accomplished and daring to tread in the unknown. A building that already contains a brand development division and spaces to do all kinds of actions to create an energy-synergy syntax,” says DSM president Joffe.

New and exclusive to the fold in Paris are upcoming talents including Duran Lantnik,  Denim Tears and Indépendantes De Coeur with their collections all nestling in a bigger array from fellow shape shifters and risk takers including Rick Owens, Maison Margiela, Miu Miu and Undercover. Place Jun Takahashi’s jazzy gold fringed denims on your NOW list or perhaps Chopova Lowena’s signature folk/punk pleat skirt and a Sky High Farm Workwear T shirt?

There will be plenty to explore and discover from cult sneakers to pyrotechnic designs and fine jewels. Currently on show is an exhibition by  poetic lensman and Comme des Garcons collaborator, Paulo Roversi. Allez!  


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