Ever since its inception 12 years ago, Dover Street Market has been a mecca for an eclectic crowd of shoppers and fashion insiders. So last year, when news broke that this edgy multi-brand store owned by Comme des Garçons was to shut up shop on Dover Street and move into the old Burberry flagship on Haymarket next month, it put many a loyal follower in a spin.
Home to a cool mix of international brands from Martin Margiela and Loewe to relative newcomers, Molly Goddard and Phoebe English, Dover Street Market, or DSM for short, has after all become synonymous with the street it sits on. When the six-floor universe opened in September 2004, Dover Street was, for want of a better description, a retail backstreet, far from what it is now lined by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Acne and Wolf & Badger.
Comme founder Rei Kawakubo, the singular designer behind Comme des Garçons, has been instrumental in DSM’s success and its no-rule, beautiful sense of chaos. Her daring edit set the bar high in the competitive world of independent retail. At its launch over a decade ago, she said: “I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an on-going atmosphere of beautiful chaos; the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision”
In keeping with Kawakubo’s creative concept, design houses were given carte blanche to determine their own brand spaces within the store, whilst artists, film and theatre designers were also invited to put their stamp on existing spaces. A myriad of innovative designers and artists have passed through its doors; The Chapman Brothers, Ai Wei Wei, Marc Quinn, Tracey Emin (she launched her ’Serpentine’ fragrance here) to name but a few. Frieze London and the ICA gallery also staged pivotal shows here – often taking over every available inch of floor space.
Meanwhile, DSM recently expanded its jewellery section to include fine jewellery pieces from an array of new, independent jewellers, thus changing the way luxury jewellery is sold. And let’s not forget the incredible window displays. These range from Tim Walker’s toy soldier theme to Chanel’s set featuring cardboard cut outs of Karl Lagerfeld. Other personal favourites include Artek’s kooky taxidermy installation and the floral displays of Petersham Nurseries.
There are so many more memorable moments, for instance the time when Patti Smith and PJ Harvey played an intimate gig in the basement of the store to celebrate the launch of Ann Demeulemeester’s book. The Chanel invasion of Dover Street Market was another highlight, as was the store’s ten-year anniversary when brands created one-off pieces and a huge boarding took over the entire facade.
Personally, I’ll miss the Rose Bakery on the fourth floor with its views of a higgledy-piggledy central London skyline. Still, it’s not too far to stroll to its new home on Haymarket. And while it might be the end of an era for Mayfair, moving its stock of international clothing and accessories brands to Haymarket will no doubt do wonders for London’s less fashionable part of the West End.