Clothing is the most common and apparent way for a fashion designer and, more generally, a brand to express their own unique style and vision. New concepts are showcased biannually at fashion weeks or through hush-hush private showings. However, as of late, fashion labels have found a new way of expressing their creative designs. Many have begun extending their styles through a new and more permanent medium: architecture.
On Thursday, Valentino opened its first store in Rome. Named after its location in the Piazza di Spagna, the 15,876-square-foot Piazza di Spagna 38 is Valentino’s largest store yet. Valentino also plans on opening 20 to 30 more units by the end of 2015 as part of its worldwide retail expansion. This building marks an important development in brand’s expansion to countries beyond its native Italy.
The retail location combines traditional Italian style with modern elements of mixed marbles and metal, all of which are part of the Store Concept developed by architect David Chipperfield. Instead of building the Valentino store in the form of a showroom, like that of many other high end designers, the architects collaborated with Valentino’s creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli to create a palazzo-style atmosphere. Located right next to Valentino’s headquarters, this particular flagship has a “symbolic value” to the city “that has always been a source of inspiration for us,” Grazia Chiuri told Fashion Times.
Following the same trend of expansion and extension, Italian luxury brand Missoni opened up its very own shop in Paris in February. Originally intended for the Milan-based store, the store’s concept was conceived by the collaboration of Missoni’s creative director Angela Missoni and architect Patricia Urquiola. The bi-level store incorporates Missoni’s colorful and iconic zig-zag pattern onto different aspects of the building and in various mediums. Located on Paris’ iconic Rue Saint Honoré, the store draws its inspiration from its surroundings. The styles incorporated into the architecture are reminiscent of French palaces and gardens. The zig-zag-patterned wooden flooring and rugs in muted tones help accentuate the vibrant and lively Missoni pieces in the store.
J.Crew is another powerhouse brand that opened its first French store, in Paris, one month after Missoni. Known for its bold colors and preppy androgynous cuts, J.Crew enjoyed much success in its four London-based stores. The company decided to expand into the trendy Parisian neighborhood of Marais in early March. This particular 1,800-square-foot J.Crew location has a massive skylight. The store is flooded with sunlight, adding to the perky and colorful atmosphere J.Crew’s style seems to exude. The store incorporated exposed stone walls and ductwork to give the Gothic Paris building an industrial edge.
Fashion has reached a new level of showcasing style as it is expanding its reach beyond just fabric and human hangers. Location and, in particular, architecture are playing major roles in the constantly evolving nature of fashion. Companies are now using their stores to further establish their creative visions and extend their reach in the global market.