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.