While many storefronts in New York’s SoHo were covered in plywood this past weekend as the country swirled in presidential election limbo, Alexander McQueen’s new flagship opened its doors. The space at 71 Greene Street is designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, who is best known for designing the 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.
Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen’s creative director, tapped Radic to design the brand’s new retail concept after being inspired by the architect’s House for the Poem of the Right Angle, an angular black-concrete home in the forest of Vilches, Chile. The result is a calming space where organic materials create a sort of cocoon around those inside. “We created a domestic labyrinth, installing a series of objects that occupy the space in a seemingly abstract way,” Radic tells L'OFFICIEL. “A place where you could wander and get calmly lost, and where you could find fashion design, art, and architecture in a true connection, defining your space.”
The store windows are draped with netting covered in embroidered insects from Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection. Oak and walnut wood floors crawl up the walls and give way to a honeycomb-textured ceiling, which is clad in a papier mâché-like material created with excess cotton. Handbags are displayed atop weighty alabaster rocks, and a glass cylinder which pierces the interior—almost like a tree trunk—doubles as a zen changing room. “We attempted to convey the initial emotions and chill that one feels when entering a wood or forest. The materials are not important by themselves; the important thing is to be clear about what kind of ambience you want to produce with them,” says Radic.
The architect first began working on Alexander McQueen’s new retail concept with Burton in 2017, and it was his first experience designing a clothing store. “The experience of designing a retail space when I first started working with Alexander McQueen was something completely new,” says Radic. “The house is extremely natural, full of emotion but also about juxtapositions and opposites and always with a strong sense of community. I’ve tried to convey this feeling in all my projects with Sarah so far.”
Watch the short film detailing the retail concept’s inception here: