What to seek out now at the high-fashion hub in the Arts District
Words by ELIZABETH VARNELL
An alluring world is emerging at the Los Angeles outpost of Dover Street Market, where disparate artists collide under one roof — governed by fashion visionary Rei Kawakubo’s mantra of “beautiful chaos.” The 15,000-square-foot Arts District emporium’s biannual new beginning, coinciding with its seasonal changeover, means all vestiges of past collections are swept clean and the stark skylit, white-tiled interiors house fresh fall offerings.
Kawakubo’s autumnal Comme des Garçons collection — built of black rubber vests and all manner of armor-like garments, hoods and even headdresses all riffing on the notion of “a gathering of shadows” — is installed as if suddenly emerging from cylindrical matte black tubes. Cobwebby fishnet knits evoking both ecological destruction and militaristic chain mail sit behind a spare grid of iron bars.
In juxtaposition, Kurt Narmore’s made-in-L.A. streetwear line Noon Goons looks to West Coast hip-hop’s influence for its surf, skate, and punk-inspired fall looks. Narmore says the genre “set the tone” for designs including an oversized, heavy-weight denim jacket and matching pants with contrast stitching and a wax finish. The line’s jocularly named rose-patterned Prom shirt adds a dash of whimsy. Also inside the cavernous space, pop art-inspired Ambush jewelry sits in a new installation surrounded by outsize images of a continuously crashing ocean wave lit by exposed overhead fluorescents.
Everywhere, there’s a renewed sense that a fresh discovery lurks around each corner
Venice-based jewelry designer Tom Binns, whose works were a Dover Street mainstay in its original London location, confides that for him the boutique’s “association with Comme and the magnificent imagination of Rei Kawakubo have developed a higher taste level, bordering on the avant garde.” Where else would videos such as those developed by filmmaker-actor Rose Schlossberg — her latest offering is an homage to 1990s television mainstay Supermarket Sweep — exist alongside new monastic Jil Sander designs, vibrantly embellished Gucci X DSM bomber jackets, bowling shirts, Bermuda shorts, tartan miniskirts and pastel fedoras or minimalist Shihara baubles?
The mix is invigorating. “Within this framework, I’m able to push my boundaries as to what constitutes art and something that is wearable,” Binns divulges. The massive one-floor space connecting two former warehouses on Imperial Street gives Binns and a host of local and international designers the freedom to stretch themselves and attack design norms with each new collection. “After all,” Binns adds, “there’s enough shit out there for the placid.”
608 Imperial St., L.A., 310-427-7610.
Feature image: POCKET SHOP at DOVER STREET MARKET in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Eric Staudenmaier.
Aug. 7, 2019