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Concrete Couture: Honouring 5 Luxury Fashion Buildings
February 16, 2024

New York Fashion Week offers top designers worldwide a premier global stage to present their collections twice a year in February and September. To celebrate the NYFW of February 2024, we are exploring five remarkable fashion buildings.

1. Tiffany & Co., New York

The Tiffany & Co. flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City is an iconic landmark in the heart of Manhattan. Completed in 1940, this ten-story building is celebrated for its sophisticated exterior. Throughout the years, it has held a prominent place in pop culture, notably appearing in the 1961 movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Originally designed by New York City Architects Cross & Cross, OMA has recently completed a renovation, introducing a three-story glass extension to the historic building. Described by the architecture studio as a "jewellery box", this top volume extends over the lower volume on three sides. The new addition functions as an event venue and can be illuminated at night, producing a lantern-like appearance with its transparent facade.

2. Chanel, Istanbul

Designed by architect Peter Marino, the CHANEL boutique in Istanbul captures CHANEL's signature monochromatic sophistication. The facade showcases angled panels of white marble, bordered by blackened steel, reminiscent of Coco Chanel's iconic white pleated blouses. This striking five-story building, nestled behind a plaza entrance with grey marble walkways and a black granite reflecting pool, is positioned on the less touristy side of the city but hints at a distinct New York influence. With features like abundant natural light, expansive interiors, and innovative material usage, these design elements harmonize flawlessly with CHANEL's timeless allure.

3. Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris

The Louis Vuitton Foundation designed by architect Frank Gehry, resembles a ship in full sail. The design responds to the surroundings of the Jardin d’Acclimatation, drawing inspiration from 19th-century glass garden structures, the historical significance of the Jardin in cultural recollection (particularly the influence of Marcel Proust), and the aspiration to establish a modern art museum that appeals to and welcomes the children and families who visit the Jardin.

The project has been a catalyst globally for innovation in digital design and construction, setting a new standard for the use of advanced digital and fabrication technologies. Over 400 individuals provided design models, engineering guidelines, and assembly limitations to a shared web-hosted 3D digital model. This model intelligently adjusted itself to meet design specifications. Mathematical methods were employed to simulate over 3,600 glass panels and 19,000 concrete panels that make up the building's exterior.

4. House of Dior, Seoul

Designed by Architect Christian de Portzamparc, the Dior flagship store showcases distinctive contemporary architecture. The building reflects Dior's essence with surfaces that flow seamlessly, mirroring the soft, woven white cotton fabric synonymous with the brand’s couture. These surfaces, seeming to be in motion and intersected by a few lines, are assembled with aircraft precision.  The store's exterior features twelve sculptural sails made of white resin and fiberglass, elegantly encircling a delicate metal cane framework, and glazed windows.

In Seoul, amid the linear alignment of buildings housing other renowned international fashion brands, this structure emerges as a grand sculptural tribute to Dior, inviting all to enter. The entrance, where two shells converge, forms a contemporary arch, where two metal mesh surfaces intersect in harmony. Upon entering, visitors embark on a journey of discoveries, a hallmark of the interiors envisioned by Peter Marino.

5. Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Marrakech

The Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech is located at Rue Yves Saint Laurent. The museum, which opened in October 2017, is dedicated to the life and work of the French fashion designer. It houses a permanent display of his work, temporary exhibitions, and spaces for research and study.

Designed by Studio KO, the museum reflects elements of the local vernacular by incorporating rich colours, textures, and elements of the landscapes of Marrakech. The exterior terracotta bricks are crafted from Moroccan soil by a local supplier and local stone and marble are combined to create the terrazzo flooring and facade. The museum showcases a significant collection of works, including 5,000 clothing items, 15,000 haute couture accessories, and tens of thousands of sketches and various objects. The facility features a 150m2 temporary exhibition area, a 130-seat auditorium, a bookshop, a café-restaurant with a terrace, and a research library with 5,000 books.

These iconic fashion buildings stand as architectural landmarks that shape city skylines, drawing in millions of visitors yearly. The design transcends traditional retail spaces, embodying deep brand histories and legacies and they reflect the essence and values of the brands, creating unique shopping environments.

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Designing extraordinary architecture where the mind and eye can be at ease
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