The Alexander Wang era at Balenciaga is now literally set in stone with the opening of the brand’s flagship store in SoHo later this week. The space -- concepted by Wang and interior designer friend Ryan Korban, who did the flagship store for Wang’s eponymous label just a few blocks away -- spans 4,120 square feet with triple-height ceilings. When it opens to the public this Friday, Nov. 22, at 148 Mercer Street (the house’s first men’s boutique will bow on the same day, right across the street), it will carry ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, jewelry, eyewear and fragrance.
When designing the project, Wang and Korban took special care to mix the old with the new. The polished tile floor, for instance, is a direct homage Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original salon at 10 Avenue George V. There is also a very liberal use of stately-but-not-stuffy deep green Verde Ramegiatto marble -- which you might remember, was a key motif in Wang’s first collection for the label, noted at the time as a reference to its storied history. (Fun fact: working on the retail space actually came first and informed what we saw on the runway that season.)
But this wouldn’t be Wang (or Korban, a man who once waited six months to get a taxidermied baby zebra just right for his apartment) if there weren’t a few fanciful, luxe accents. While there’s no fur hammock like there is at chez Wang, there are walls lined in a glistening “cracked resin,” shelves covered in forest green suede, and furniture featuring black “caviar” embroidery from the atelier.
There’s also been a lot of talk about a magnificent, museum-inspired skylight that forms the “spine” of the store, letting customers bask in a mix of natural and artificial light (courtesy of a few LED boxes) so it gives, according to the press release, “the impression of floating in space.”
That will be fact-checked later today after we do walk-through of the store. Stay tuned.