Dover Street Market in downtown Los Angeles is a little bit radical—a retail store that functions as a gallery of art and culture, and a place to turn for the very latest from some of the world’s most esoteric fashion designers. Also radical—the bi-annual housecleaning in which the store purges all of its goods and the installations that present them and emerges, two days later, scrubbed and renewed.
This is what the store calls its New Beginning. Religiously in January and July, each Dover Street Market (there are outposts in London, Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing and New York) holds a big sale—which is an excellent reason to get on its mailing list—then shuts down for two full days as the purge proceeds in what co-founder Rei Kawakubo likes to call “beautiful chaos.”
Out with the old and in with the latest from house brand Comme des Garçons and, this season, a collaboration between Carhartt, Stussy and Dover Street Market; a sneaker space that is debuting the Converse Golf Le Fleur; and carefully curated racks including fashions from Simone Rocha, Jacquemus, Raf Simons and Brain Dead. The recent New Beginning includes a new collection from handmade-in-Los-Angeles jewelry designer Suzanne Kalan.
This is the sort of place where artists and architects shop so they can look like artists and architects. (The renowned architect Daniel Libeskind stopped by for a book signing last November, just weeks after the store opened.) It’s also where the initiates of highly desirable labels can locate exclusive designs and other hard-to-obtain items. Gucci’s 265-square-foot space offers the spring/summer 2019 collection as well as the Dapper Dan’s Harlem book, produced with the legendary designer who pioneered bootleg luxury streetwear and has been collaborating with Gucci for the past year or so.
In characteristic quirkiness, the Los Angeles store is located at the foot of the Sixth Street bridge—which is currently under construction. It’s a spot that the madding Arts District crowd is just beginning to discover, so the fashion emporium is designed to envelope visitors from the moment they park in the white-walled parking lot. There they will find the 40-seat Rose Bakery with an outdoor terrace, a place for a coffee, tea or juice, a melted-cheddar-and-chutney sandwich or a soba noodle salad.
The store fans out with spaces created by the designers whose goods are represented. These moments are highly valued by labels. There is a Chanel fine-jewelry space. Paris label Maison Margiela recently installed a space for seven exclusive styles of its famed split-toe “tabi” boots, based on the Japanese worker socks.
When Kawakubo was designing the store, she noted that she expects it to cause creative people and concepts to bounce off of each other like atoms. “I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos.” Mission accomplished.
Dover Street Market Los Angeles, 606-608 Imperial St.