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VM choice: London's Dover Street Market

At last, London has a Dover Street Market of which it can be proud. Launched in 2004, the brand has since become a global one, with later stores far more substantial than the original. The former Burberry store on Haymarket has now been transformed and the contents of the original Dover Street Market, which was squeezed in to 13,000 sq ft, have been allowed to grow and develop across five floors to fill 31,384 sq ft. 

The exterior of the 1912 Haymarket building erected by Thomas Burberry (1835 – 1926) remains unchanged. Inside, while the original spiral staircase and ceilings remain, the space is divided into a series of rooms for each collection: not only for all the Comme des Garçons collections, but also Dior, Gucci, Daniella Gregis, Molly Goddard, Margaret Howell, Labour and Wait, and many more. There is also a branch of Japanese cafe Rose Bakery.

The entire building is filled with installations, and fixtures from the old store have been repurposed for the new one, including the iconic hut/cash-desk. The black metal fixtures from the second floor of the old store are now on the ground floor, here used to display the Black Comme des Garcons collection.

It looks even better here in the centre of the larger space, conveying an airy lightness. The nature of its structure, black with white spaces in between, echoes the colours of the collection. The Comme des Garçons fixtures and spaces have been designed by Rei Kawakubo.

The low glass-topped jewellery fixtures, lit street-light style, allow a view across the ground floor. The white-painted oak pillar to the left is original, and while painting it white lightens the interior, is does seem rather a pity to remove the patina of time that this building had.

The Play collection, which must be a major contributor to DSM sales, has also been given primary space on the ground floor. The translucent shell of the box, a cross between the temporary nature of a pop-up and a fixture, is made more customer-friendly with the inclusion of a window. This enables customers to see into the space, enhancing curiosity.

A hand-painted wall and series of plinths creates a backdrop for the bag collection. Decorated with broken paneling and architectural details, this almost conceals the real emergency exit door left of centre. To the left of the door, a red emergency exit button has been nicely incorporated in to the architectural detailing, and a cabinet on the far right has been neatly painted in a trompe l’oeil effect.

Small back-lit niches, each painted a pale shell-pink, showcase the bags which are colour-blocked: black to the left, orange in the centre, and paler colours to the right. The central cupboard doors are interestingly doubled, and the outer pair of doors have been mirrored on the inside, reflecting the broken architectural details to the left and right and adding further complexity. Add a white bowl of pale pink roses and the effect is light and pretty, without being cloying.

In the basement, the location for much of the menswear, a considerable amount of space is given to Nike LAB DSML and sneakers. The stacked silver cubes form a double-faced wall, some reversed to reveal an orange interior, which perfectly sets off the all-white trainers. We have seen a huge fashion for brightly-coloured men’s trainers, and recent press coverage for white being the new must-have colour. DSM’s display emphasizes the trend, and the positioning of the trainers in a mix of side-out and face-out both rings the changes, and emphasizes the design details.

The new store brings the brand in line with DSM’s more recent store developments, and on par with 10 Corso Como, with which DSM is often compared. London is so often one of the first cities that brands extend in to, and it is a pleasure to see the concept revised and extended. And with DSM branches in Tokyo, New York, and a five-story franchise branch operated by I.T. in Beijing, too, London is now really on the fashion map.