The last stop on Rei Kawakubo’s entrepreneurial journey; a genesis of the Parisian adaptation of Dover Street Market, between architecture and idealistic reasoning
An explosion of scents
Tucked away in the Marais in Paris, near Lampoon Library destinations like Yvon Lambert Bookshop, Comptoir de l’Image and Tom Greyhound, between the Picasso Museum and the Musée Carnavalet, is Dover Street Parfums Market. On the 25th anniversary after the launch of the first Comme Des Garçons original perfume and the 15th anniversary of Dover Street Market in London — the quirky emporium mingling all Comme Des Garçons lines with luxury streetwear — Rei Kawakubo and her husband Adrian Joffe have opened their seventh store, dedicated to beauty and perfumes from around the world.
Dover Street Market is a multi-brand store that was created by Comme des Garçons designer, Rei Kawakubo, and her husband Adrian Joffe and first opened in 2004 on Dover Street in London. Since, the store has migrated to six other locations including New York, Ginza, Singapore, Beijing, Los Angeles, and now Paris and has also relocated in London from Dover Street to the old Burberry building on Haymarket, established in 1912 by Thomas Burberry. The hugely-anticipated Parisian adaptation of the store has solely been designed for the fragrance and beauty industry including diverse, inclusive, and gender-less products throughout.
Upon entering the ground floor of Dover Street Parfums Market, you’ll find an array of established fragrance brands such as Paco Rabanne or Byredo. But as one of the greatest strengths of the store is stocking up-and-coming labels, you can equally be surprised with scents from New York-based D.S & Durga and Michigan-based Kersone.
An explosion of scents, sounds and textures offer a wide range of products. From organic oils to probiotics, magnesium flakes to sustainable toothbrushes or charcoal water and organic lipstick — the Dover Street Perfume Market does not disappoint. In the midst of the diverse range of products, the store is architecturally designed with purpose, provoking mindful journeys around white forests of columns.
Looking into the store from the outside, only white and coloured pillars are visible. Each of these pillars were designed by Kawakubo herself, enabling customers to negotiate their way around them as they please. Synonymous with each of the DSM stores, artist Magda Sayed designed one of the columns layering patchwork knitting in various palettes of white and off-white. Like Sayed, three of the columns upon entering the store have been selected to represent a particular designer.
Subtle Colette reminders
The first pillar was designed by Thom Browne for his debut fragrance line, exclusive to the store and covered in the label’s signature grey wool. The second was created in the shape of metallic Gruyere Cheese, displaying perfumes within the holes of the cheese. Rather than shelves or stands Kawakubo has designed each pillar to incorporate the products rather than support or display them.
A perusal through DSM Parfum’s cylindrical displays will also introduce you to the colourful bottles from Swedish brand 19-69, which launched at Colette right before its closing in 2017, as well as Joffe’s personal favourite and the vegan, 100% botanical scents from Berlin-based Aer.
The concept came from a collaboration between Sarah Andelman; the co-founder of the now-closed Colette — and Kawakubo. Andelman is said to have put together a list of designers and potential brands for them to choose from to showcase in the space, with subtle Colette reminders appearing throughout the room.
Primarily focused on perfumes, the first floor offers a wide range of scents, including a pop up corner, currently home to a temporary makeup tattoo parlour created by Mac cosmetics, as well as a magazine section featuring limited edition copies of Beauty Papers ‘Metamorphose’ issue that has been available for purchase since their book signing in November.
Pop-ups are generally selected through suggestions and usually last between two to three weeks. Amongst the fragrances is Diana Vreeland’s new perfume, Suigeneris, and natural skincare and fragrance company made from seaweed, Haeckels who have their own spa, Haeckels House outside of London.
Of course, a space is reserved for the Comme des Garçons perfumes including their new perfume called Copper. When Comme des Garçons first took a step into the world of perfumery in 1994, with the creation of Eau de Parfum, by perfumer Mark Brixton, the company has through collaboration, set out to challenge ideals of beauty through scent. Under the direction of Astugueville, it has since experimented with clashing collections like Wonderwood, Concrete, Blackpepper, Hinoki and now Copper which as is customary to the brand and as the name states, smells like metallic and artificial copper, combining scents of Peruvian peppercorn, myrrh and galbanum finished in amber and metallic pebble-shaped bottle.
Downstairs is the realm of beauty and grooming, with everything from Dr. Bronner’s soap to the glamorous Gucci makeup line. There you’ll find an alchemist inspired commode featuring old-fashioned fragrance bottles, that might at first look out of place among the selection of charcoal toothpaste, wooden toothbrushes, and odd-smelling scents.
The Gucci corner is showcasing their perfumes exclusively to DSM as they aren’t due to be sold worldwide until 2020. Unlike the rest of the perfumes in the store, displayed with Dover Street Parfums Market branded cone-shaped testers, Gucci has created its’ line using glass testers resting on fragrance-covered cotton pads. Holding the glass cup up to your face, away from its’ stand, and the lingering scent will envelop your senses before it dissipates.
Other exclusive brands include La Bouche Rouge, a sustainable lipstick company made without plastic from product to packaging, as well as their very own limited-edition black lipstick made specifically for the display in the store. Every product on display is a tester, yet the use of particular brand packaging and experiences offers subtle surprises rather than concoctions of lingering scents all at once. Still, Dover Street Market has always been known to favour less known and popular products. In this case, organic skincare company Oumere includes anti-aging serums housed in potion-like vials with glass droppers made from various ingredients amongst vinegar. These products are in the higher price range with some of them costing about 400 euros.
Another company in the same category is Korean brand, Tamburins, featuring a thick-like paste face balm worth 300 euros. The store also features pure plant oils by Votary and Uslu Airlines luxury nail polish as well as makeup by famous makeup artist Edouard Bess and an E-cigarette shaped concealer made from cognac or a luxury Swiss foundation applied using a mechanical pump as if to spray paint the product all over ones’ face.
The individual experience
As well as the exclusive and luxurious products the store equally offers soaps that can be found in French supermarket Monoprix as well as Swedish Skin interior perfumes offering diverse variations of their collection and price range. Another pop-up space in the store currently features jewelry from designer, Simone Rocha’s latest collection. Previously the pop up had been occupied by famous hairstylist for Comme des Garçons, Julien d’Ys and his hairstyles for the brand.
At the cabin-like till, made from off-cut pieces of wood and metal, a small plastic bag with the Dover Street Parfums Market is on display to be given with each purchase, though like the minimalistic design of the space and walls, no gifts are to be given. Instead, Kawakubo and Joffe are aiming to excite the exclusive and luxurious individual experience that come from the fragrance and beauty industry. No pop-up calendar has been decided for the store as of yet but talks of featuring exclusive clothes solely available for display are in motion.
11 bis Rue Elzevir