When Dover Street Market, the conceptual retail store in London announced the opening of a New York outpost in my gritty neighborhood, I almost fell off my pouf.  Why would Rei Kawakubo, the visionary Dover Street and Commes des Garcons designer open shop in a neighborhood the New York Times recently deemed "Manhattan's least fashionable"?

Did she find the mix of sari shops, curry restaurants, and Pakistani cab drivers irresistible?  Was the proximity to Kalustyans, the middle eastern spice shop on 28th and Lex, too alluring to pass up?  Or had she cannily anticipated that the mentally deranged inmates at nearby Bellevue hospital were the only ones willing to drop 10G on a Spring 2014 Commes des Garcons hula-hoop dress?

I suspect that while the bizarre location (and mentally deranged neighbors) appealed to the inscrutable Ms. Kawakubo, it was the gorgeous buliding that sealed the deal.  A grand neo-classical style structure from 1909, the marble columned beauty was - apropos enough - the home to the school of Applied Design for women.


The reimagined interior with its central glass elevator is stunning, and the seven floors of (ruthlessly edited) Commes des Garcons, Alaia, Prada, Junya Watanabe etc. is the stuff fashion freaks lose their marbles over.  

And the green tea cake at the store's Rose Bakery sure beats the pants off the dubious shrink wrapped banana cake at the local Korean market.  
So, does the arrival of Dover Street Market signal the beginning of Curry Hill's great gentrification? Local retailers including Curry in a Hurry, Momokawa japanese restaurant (incredible shabu shabu), and an early morning hooker idling outside Little Michael deli on Lex, all report a slight uptick in business.  Though "Young Choice Nails", perhaps the filthiest nail salon in the city, said that business was slow - as usual.