Alaïa’s New York City Store is Packed with American Art – WWD

A US sensation since the early 1980s, Alaïa is back with a New York City store that celebrates the US art and design scene.

The sophisticated gallery-like boutique at 149 Mercer Street in Soho showcases works by Robert Rauschenberg, Mike Kelley, Jonathan Horowitz and Donald Judd.

Alaia chief Miriam Serrano said it will open on Saturday amid accelerating retail sales of the Richemont-owned fashion brand.

“We want to build close relationships with our clients.

Historically a wholesale-led brand, Alaia now counts eight independent boutiques worldwide, five shop-in-shops in Europe and Japan, plus six partner-operated boutiques in South Korea and China.

The boutique mixes furniture and art pieces with Alaïa’s fashion.

Courtesy of Alaia

British architect Sophie Hicks conceived the minimal interiors of the Mercer Street store, as she did in Tokyo and Shanghai. Her other Alaia boutiques are in Paris, London and Dubai.

The famous boutique on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, which hosted the Alaïa fashion show last July, is set to open in September 2024. The historic Hermès flagship creates “a journey through Alaïa’s way of life, couture and style”.

Alaïa’s creative director since 2021, Peter Mullier curated furniture and artwork for Mercer Street, calling New York “a city of resilience, and resilience is the nourishment of creativity.”

New York “has a special meaning to me,” Mullier said, as did the late Azzedine Alaïa, who in 1988 set up a boutique showcasing fashion, industrial design and art at 131 Mercer Street. It exhibited monumental bronze sculptures, racks, etc. and impressive plaster casting fixtures by her friend Julian Schnabel.

The store closed in 1991 and much of the furniture was moved to Alaïa’s historic Parisian boutique on rue Mussy. The Tunisian-born couturier also lived there, working late into the night, meticulously crafting body-conscious designs.

Robert Rauschenberg prints hang on racks in the gallery-like space.

Courtesy of Alaia

Managed by Compagnie Financière Richemont since 2007, the fashion house aims to recreate in all its retail outlets the unique atmosphere inspired by its founders on Rue de Moussy.

Serrano describes his visit to the boutique, with its kitchen hidden behind it and its studio and living quarters, as “a bond with art, a one-of-a-kind art of livingand the family spirit embodied in the famous dinner Azzedine Alaia hosted in his own kitchen surrounded by friends, artists and clients.

In the interview, Serrano talked about how Alaia’s unique leather design with grommets was embraced by stylish women and shot for WWD by street style photographer Bill Cunningham. By 1982, Bergdorf Goodman invited the Paris-based designer to show in New York.

Azzedine Alaïa has strong ties to Barneys New York, which helped grow his business and US fame until the retail store closed in 2020.

“The United States is now our second-largest market after Europe,” said Serrano, noting that Americans rank in the top three in terms of nationality. “[Alaïa’s] His unique approach to the female body resonated deeply with the American woman and explains why he was so successful in America. “

Currently, Alaia’s primary retail partners in the US are Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. The brand also has strong relationships with specialty and online retailers such as Dover Street Market, Maxfield, The Webster, Net A Porter and Myteresa.

As the brand gains momentum in business, a boutique opens in New York. In reporting its third-quarter results, Richemont cited increased sales at most of its fashion and accessories brands, including Alaia and Peter Miller, among his Maisons, calling it “other”. contributed to his 6% increase in sales in the business area.

Serrano said Mulier’s “sculptural, sexy silhouette” conveys the essence of the brand to younger generations.

“The commercial success of his direction can be seen in the latest bestsellers, some of which are very new like Alaïa’s new iconic bag, Le Coeur,” she said. Others were “inspired by the Maison’s classic shapes and materials, including bodysuits, knitwear dresses and denim collections.”

Mulier will present the next collection for Alaïa on January 27th in Antwerp, Belgium.

The exterior of the store at 149 Mercer Street in New York City.

Courtesy of Alaia

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