Navigating the New Dover Street Market

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Haymarket's chicest new addition boasts an impressively diverse selection of brands within its artful setting. Here, AnOther deciphers its overarching themes and star buys

Dover Street Market finally opened the doors to its brand new London residence last weekend, having re-located from its prized position on 17-18 Dover Street in Mayfair to the buzzy confines of Haymarket. Spanning five floors and standing at 31, 184 square feet, the grade two heritage listed building – originally installed by Thomas Burberry in 1912 – was conceived and designed by Rei Kawakubo.

The resulting space is an astonishing feat of creativity and commerce, harnessing a diverse and elegant combination of goods by both emerging and enduring creatives, including limited edition books, artworks and rare ephemera. In other words, it's absolutely unique – diligently paraphrased by Kawakubo herself: "a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos; the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision." Below, we took the opportunity to explore the store and unravel its prevailing themes. 

Indoors Outdoors
In spite of being situated on the same street as two Angus Steakhouse restaurants (Rei Kawakubo was reportedly spotted lurking outside a Byron Burger), walking into Dover Street Market is akin to entering an otherworldly dreamland. The ground floor is lit by sprouting street lamps designed by Daniel Young and Christian Giroux – thus, rather than being taken inside a shop, you are instantly transported into the world of Kawakubo and her collaborators (or ‘co-conspirators’), a space where indoors and outdoors alike are reimagined with precise peculiarity. Thankfully, you feel aeons away from a discount hamburger.

Once you ascend to the first floor, you are immersed in the same distinctive smell of delphiniums that scented the Dior S/S16 show – and are, accordingly, located in the Dior section, filled with tall plinths holding vases of Raf’s farewell flower. Walking through, you find yourself engulfed by the straw walls surrounding Céline, and the brilliant playground that comprises J.W.Anderson (inspired by those located in his hometown of Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, JDubs enlisted an actual playground manufacturer rather than an installation artist to enact his designs). Then there’s the traditional Kawakubo-designed DSM huts, constructed from corrugated steel, and the abundance of oversized plants selected according to each designer’s particular preference. This subversion of interior boundaries is one that makes you feel a little like you’re in Alice in Wonderland: all wide-eyed and immersed within an otherworldly, well, wonderland.


Animal Magnetism 
"Do you like it then?" joked Craig Green, gesturing to the sizeable inflatable piranha that floated in the bottom left-hand corner of his basement stall in the store. The piranha appeared fierce and funny with its bulbous yellow eyes and jagged white teeth, which threw warped shadows across the grey concrete floor. "It's made out of thick black tarpaulin," revealed the London-based designer, adding, "I didn't think they could make it [Dover Street Market] any better, but then there's this. We got to do something really fun." Green's tactile installation isn't the only creature to dwell inside the space. In fact, Kawakubo herself designed an impressive metal sculpture of a dinosaur (sensibly titled: Metal Dinosaur) that stands on the second floor, its curvaceous neck craning over the distorted mirrored fitting rooms. 

Elsewhere, British taxidermist and interior designer Emma Hawkins showcased a selection of her rare and highly sought-after stuffed creations in tall glass cabinets (a vestige from DSM's previous home), including an Apteryx Mantelli and beguiling animal skulls of varying species and sizes. And, on another note entirely, the Comme Des Garçons Girls concession bore hot-pink wallpaper stamped with bouncing cartoon rabbits. Diversity is the spice of life, after all. 

Immersive Artistry
This spirit of artistic immersion continues throughout the assortment of installations which comprise the rest of the store: the sound concept throughout was designed by Calx Vive, who created a sonic spatialization through layering "textural sounds" with an eclectic mix of music to animate the store with "beautiful chaos". To get into Paul Harnden’s space, created by Nicolai Schmetna, you have to duck underneath what looks like construction plastic before finding yourself contained in a slightly ominous area more evocative of a gallery space than a shop (in fact, it feels a little strange taking bits out to purchase), and Stephen Jones’ exceptional set-up, comprised of stacks of chairs, garnished with his signature hats, resembles a Tadashi Kawamata installation.

Even Simone Rocha’s more conventional area is filled with segments of the plaster cornices she designed for her standalone Mount Street store encased within Perspex boxes – "I wanted to integrate my world and theirs,” she explained – and Molly Goddard’s cosy nook just next to the Rose Bakery not only contains a brilliantly lurid lighting palette and a divan but also an assortment of curious sculptural heads crafted by her father ("but they’re not meant to be cracked!" he laughed). Then, around the corner from Goddard is the inaugural space of Frances von Hofmannsthal, who has set up an exact replica of her father Lord Snowdon’s photographic studio to house her hand-dyed coats – it’s all very arty, but the sort of arty that invites rather than excludes.

Small is Beautiful 
Let's take a moment to praise the more petite avenues of DSM Haymarket – those hidden, but equally considered alcoves and corners that prove just as photo-ready as the store's more dominant design features. Take the grey, polka-dot stamped dressing room to your right of Céline on the first floor. Dots are a recurring motif in CDG's style vernacular and when opposed with regal pink velvet chairs, as they are here, it's a combination that feels especially gratifying.

Equally impressive – and on an even smaller scale – is the racing-green kiosk that was designed to dish out the exciting new magazine, Luncheon, edited by the aforementioned Frances Von Hofmannsthal, who describes the title as – "a style and culture magazine that invites old and new friends of all generations and cultural experiences to share their views, life and work over lunch." Once your style appetite is well and truly whet, why not sample the delectable cuisine on offer at Rose Bakery, where delicately iced carrot cakes and healthy 'red salads' feature on a diverse menu to suit all tastes. Once suitably nourished, be sure not to miss the small but perfectly formed Mark Cross leather trunk-bags, which are carefully stacked on the ground floor next to Simone Rocha, creating an eye-catching pastel formation. The signature bag, dubbed the 'Grace', takes its name from the iconic Grace Kelly, who sported the design in Hitchcock's classic thriller, Rear Window