Fashion and architecture as design subjects are hard to pry apart. The two often exist hand-in-hand, with one feeding the other in terms of taste – and sharing common sources of inspiration like art, science and technology.
This becomes even more apparent if you take a look at the boutiques that some of the major fashion houses have built or designed. Drawing upon some of architecture’s great talents, they offer a visual feast for the eyes.
After all, shopping is an experience that feeds the senses. And of course, luxury clothing deserves a fabulous home – and what could better than the gorgeous spaces thought up by world-famous architects.
Here’s a roundup of extraordinary fashion stores from around the world.
1. Prada Aoyama, Tokyo
As a three-dimensional glass structure, Prada’s store in Tokyo stands out. The six-story single building, situated in the Aoyama district, is counted as among the most distinctive works of architecture in the city.
With both concave and convex surfaces, it has an enhanced spatial allure. This is also the first building by architects Herzog & De Meuron in which the structure, space and facade form a single unit.
What it simply means is that the supporting grilles, horizontal tubes and floor slabs all make up one large seamless space – housing numerous retail floors, visitor lounges and event spaces.
As described by Prada, the Epicentre in Tokyo is conceived as an extremely porous structure: “Its glazing is only an external shell, comparable to a contact lens resting on the pupil of an eye.”
2. Louis Vuitton Place Vendome, Paris
A golden sun streaming gleaming rays – such is the immediate visual that would have come to mind when viewing Louis Vuitton’s Place Vendome store at the opening in 2017. It carried a gold-plated sunburst grille that drew all eyes.
The building is still as impressive today, even with the artistic feature removed. Each well-lit floor is linked by a staircase carved from 18th-century stone, complete with sleek glass balustrades, suspended by stainless steel cables.
“I thought I would juxtapose a modern aesthetic to everything within the walls and restore as beautifully and faithfully as possible the exterior,” architect Peter Marino explained in a past interview.
Of the duality between heritage elements and trendy touches of custom light sculptures and curated works of art, he added: “The balance between modern and old, is for me, what Paris is all about.”
3. Armani Fifth Avenue, New York City
Located on New York City’s iconic shopping street, Fifth Avenue, is the Armani boutique designed by Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas. The main show room comprises four different levels connected by a “whirlwind” staircase.
Fashioned from steel and covered with plastic, this centrepiece highlights the look of the retail space. The geometric shape speaks of fluidity, while maintaining a feel of the cool and current.
So much so, the boutique is still a must-see even after being open for 20 years. At the time of the launch in 2009, Giorgio Armani himself described it as “a totally original store which introduces the public to the aesthetic excitement of fine contemporary architecture”.
“This freedom of expression defines for me the spirit of Fifth Avenue: a prestigious shopping destination, of course, but one that is less exclusive in character than comparable addresses, with a democratic mood which I am certain represents the future,” he noted.
4. Valentino Piazza Di Spagna, Rome
Valentino’s flagship boutique in Rome combines old and new, steering away from a pure showroom atmosphere and instead, promotes architectural heaven with a raw, elegant interior concept.
The design is meant to complement the pieces on display, making use of a range of quiet yet luxurious materials: grey terrazzo with timber, marble, leather, carpet and carbon fiber to evoke a sense of intimacy.
What is more awe inspiring however, is the huge atrium entrance. This leads to two main marble staircases that connect to the store levels, making customers feel as if they are ascending to the peak of fine living.
“Valentino has identified architecture as the idea for the interior. In a process that reduces superficial decoration by steering away from the use of panelling, architecture is brought inside,” stated architect David Chipperfield.
Cover Image: Francesco Zivoli / Unsplash
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Writer | PY Cheong
PY Cheong has plied the trade of words long enough to recognise the difference between writing and storytelling. Believes in always dressing up his prose. Living and breathing the work he does.