Think Dolce & Gabbana and the stock position is to say this is a brand that takes a knowingly wry look at the world of fashion and turns it on its head, creating something interesting and unexpected in the process.
Address 53-55 New Bond Street, London W1S
Size Three 6,253 sq ft floors
Ambience Sicilian/English hybrid
Outstanding feature The vintage furniture
The label’s new men’s store on New Bond Street certainly does this, and there’s a sense that it does considerably more by posing as a member of the English establishment and then - not always subtly - undermining this position.
However, Dolce & Gabbana spares no expense when it comes to creating the kind of interior that will appeal to the super-luxury crowd in search of something different. This is the kind of shop you’ll certainly feel pampered in, but there is also a good chance you’ll be surprised by the decor and merchandising. It is quite unlike anything else on London’s luxury lane.
01 VISUAL MERCHANDISING
This is a big store and wherever you happen to look there are deft visual merchandising touches, ranging from the beautifully presented sunglasses on a vintage wood backdrop on the ground floor, to a nearby display case filled with crocodile skin artefacts. In itself, the latter would hardly be remarkable, but if you combine small pictures of topless women, a condom or two (in packets) and a retro-looking vibrator peeking out of a crocodile skin case, then the display becomes, if nothing else, eye-catching.
Extensive use is made of vintage wardrobes, as well as open packing trunks. Even the very traditional and high-gloss-looking barber at the back of the ground floor entices you to sit down to a shave.
According to the store manager, the underlying concept is to combine the traditions of an English gentleman’s club with the baroque look of Sicily, with the contrast between checked wallpaper and rich flocked wallpaper serving to show how this store is a hybrid of two cultures. The artworks on display tread a fine line between art and pornography, with the painting of a floral-frocked woman holding an erect penis in her lap a case in point.
Traditional and Italian would probably be the words of choice for this form of service. The staff are kitted out in black - suits for men and little black numbers for the women - and if you need refreshment a man in a white tunic bearing a silver salver is on hand. This is luxury of the kind that involves ostentatious pampering. The staff are also scrupulously polite and well-polished - and importantly, they possess that happy ability to make you feel you might also be similarly blessed.
Everything about this shop shouts money; such is the world of luxury. That said, men’s suits start at around the £1,000 mark and head up to £1,700, which will secure a top-of-the-range job. This is a price bracket that is certainly at the upper end of the scale, but which does not begin to approach the price of bespoke. For those wishing to part with larger amounts of cash, there are one-off runway pieces. Buy from here and you are highly unlikely to enter a room where anyone else will be wearing the same thing.
There is competition all around this part of London for the high-spending male’s wallet, but those who come to this store will find items that are unlike those available in other emporia.
At this level, impulse purchases do not really form a great part of the equation - everything is probably the result of fairly careful consideration and research. What Dolce & Gabbana does do is to offer a look that is out there on its own - and if this is to the taste of the dandy promenading Bond Street, then nowhere else will match it. Taste is a highly individual thing, and this store is highly individual.
06 VERDICT - everything fine and dandy
Ever wanted to strut? Ever felt the need to peacock? Ever wondered what it would feel like to turn heads, even if you’re plug ugly? If your pockets are deep enough, a visit to this store will probably raise a smile, leave you feeling better about yourself and enable you to exit onto Bond Street with the sartorial capacity to impress.
This is a very good store and shows what can be done if money really is no object when it comes to both store interior and service. For the man about town, this is one of the better places to spend a little time.