By Tali Jaffe
When one thinks about Alexander McQueen, “edge” may be the first word that comes to mind. But under creative director Sarah Burton, the brand has embraced its romantic side, which is most evident in its new store at Bal Harbour.
Designed by Burton in partnership with David Collins Studio, the Bal Harbour store is the first to introduce the brand’s new interior concept, which was inspired by numerous elements, from the art of Francis Bacon to an Eighteenth century salon, Rorschach ink blots and the female form.
“It’s about McQueen as a point of view, the idea of making a dress out of razor clam shells or sheaves of corn, the manipulation of nature to make ornament,” said David Collins. “We were thinking about eroticism and sexuality. Everything is exaggerated and very slightly distorted.”
There are references to Alexander McQueen signatures throughout the 2,000-square-foot store. In particular, the curved seams of a heritage tailored jacket, smashed porcelain show pieces and the “armadillo” shoe are echoed in everything from ceiling rafts to plaster panel mouldings and flooring.
The storefront is clad in grey and white Calcatta Oro. The floor is smashed and re-assembled Nero Argento marble. A “pinched-waist” raft is suspended from the vaulted ceiling, hanging over the collections of womenswear and accessories.
Walls are covered in lacquered linen, silk and white rubbed Gesso, establishing a sense of rough luxury. Moulded plaster panels feature a cornucopia of wings, shells, cactus flowers, mushroom gills, seahorse tails and tangled leaves which reveal tiny skulls and grimacing gargoyles nestled in their folds.
Blush-pink glass lighting echoes the organic lines of the coral reef. Mirrors are gilded silver and gold. Velvet soft furnishings feature solid bronze animal feet: gazelle hooves and monster claws. Hanging rails are crafted in black lacquer and aged brass. Stained grey wood shelving is suspended from polished brass “monkey” chains. Shoes are displayed on circular “fetish“ tables.
The Bal Harbour store is the first to open in four years, and will be followed by stores in Shanghai next month and Hong Kong later this year, as well as Hangzhou and Dallas in January, 2013. All of the new stores will reflect the new interior concept.