German-born, Swiss-based designer Philipp Plein may be better known for generating spectacles with elaborate runway shows and controversial ad campaigns than his clothes, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to sell them. On Monday, the designer announced plans to open up a New York flagship at 625 Madison Ave, following a store opening in Miami several months ago. More U.S. locations are set to follow.
We first caught wind of Plein in 2011, when he announced that a troubled Lindsay Lohan would star in his spring 2012 ad campaign. “Who was this unknown designer getting Lindsay Lohan to be in his campaign?” we wondered. Our curiosity continued over the years as he proceeded to release campaigns shot by and starring Terry Richardson (and Ed Westwick and Lea T); get Grace Jones, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora to perform at his Milan runway shows; and persuade major models like Liya Kebede and Naomi Campbell to walk in them, the latter while surrounded by actual fire. He also once had models walk down the runway in ski masks carrying machine guns one month after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Plein's U.S. expansion plans also have us a bit perplexed. Though the designer has 30 stores in Europe, he's totally new to the U.S. market outside of the $2,000 dresses and $5,000 jackets he ships to the States via his website and the Miami outpost. A rep tells us Plein owns 100 percent of his company and has no outside investors. The rep also says the company has revenue in the hundreds of millions and that it expects to grow 100 percent in 2014. She added that its expansion strategy for the U.S. is primarily centered on opening its own stores, though Plein's designs "will certainly be stocked in the main department stores" in upcoming seasons.
Needless to say, Plein likes to cause a stir, and has a seemingly endless source of funds to do so. His clothes, too, are far from understated: think tight leather pants with club-appropriate dresses and jackets, accessories adorned with studs and Swarovski crystals, fur coats and short hemlines -- a far cry from the Alaia frocks we’re used to seeing Naomi Campbell in, for instance.
So, that’s what you can expect to find at the Upper East Side location when it opens in September. That and, according to WWD, a sculpture of a skull decorated with 50,000 Swarovski jewels. Of course.