More an experience than simply a place to shop, concept stores merge fashion, design, beauty, art, and more. Featuring a variety of items from different brands and designers—and often in stunning settings—these stores are frequently refreshed with new, carefully curated items. The idea is nearly 40 years old—Carla Sozzani led the charge when she launched 10 Corso Como in Milan in 1991—but there’s nothing dated about this list of cult shops around the world.
1. 10 Corso Como
Corso Como 10, Milan
Former fashion editor and publisher Carla Sozzani established 10 Corso Como in 1991, and the store now has iterations in New York, Shanghai, Seoul, and Beijing. Situated inside an industrial-style building designed by American artist Kris Ruhs, who also conceived the institution’s target-like black-and-white logo, the Milan outpost combines fashion, design, music, lifestyle, and art (Sozzani also runs the on-site gallery). The store offers a range of avant-garde books and objets d’art, as well as fashion from the likes of Vetements, Maison Margiela, and Azzedine Alaïa. The café/restaurant, with its peaceful courtyard garden, is worth the trip alone, and there’s also a bijou three-room hotel in mid-20th-century style. There might not be a more fashionable address in town.
The Colette effect, although the famed fashion emporium will close in December, is still in full swing in Paris, most notably at Merci, housed in a multi-level, former wallpaper factory in the Marais. Here you might find a jacket by RAINS, a Paola Navone sofa, or Cutipol cutlery from Portugal, with profits going to charity. Their specialty is washed linen—from bedsheets to aprons, throws, and napkins—in a range of soft-hued colours: celadon green, heather mauve, and sand rose, for example. The on-site restaurant, La Cantine du Potager, opens onto a small garden, and serves healthy, seasonal dishes and juices.
Comme des Garçons creator Rei Kawakubo can take much of the credit for leading the retail migration west of Bond Street in London, giving the Mayfair and St James's neighborhoods a refresh when she opened her first store on Dover Street in 2004. In the spirit of DSM innovation, a 2016 relocation to Haymarket—just east of Bond Street—within the former Burberry building was once again an intriguing surprise. The interior concept—five stories connected by a Victorian spiral stairwell—and artful installations have been dreamed up by Kawakubo, with the individual concessions designed by the brands themselves, from Simone Rocha to Céline and Palace. Stop for quiche and a jasmine tea at the top-floor Rose Bakery.
Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird’s multitasking concept store makes its home in Downtown Los Angeles's Beaux Arts-style PacMutual Building, blurring the distinction between commercial gallery and retail space. Originally targeted to the men's luxury market, now the offering includes special editions and collaborations, such as a collection of borosilicate glassware made with Fabrica, and exhibitions, including work by Arik Levy and Guillaume Bardet. The men’s clothing selection is mainly the fruits of trips to Paris Fashion Week—including Belgian designer Walter van Beirendonck's colorful avant-garde pieces. There’s also a range of stylish books, fragrances by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Aedle headphones, and sunglasses by Fakoshima.
Opened in 2012 by Toni Tramezzini and Stephanie Hofer, this sleek showroom displays a well-curated edit of avant-garde, often androgynous mens- and womenswear from hard-to-find labels such as Esther Perbandt, Biek Verstappen, and Divka. Be sure to look for just-launched house brand Atelier Obstiné. Then there are the handmade, offbeat leather shoes by Ematyte and leather goods by ESDE, as well as rotating artworks by a collection of edgy street photographers—another of Tramezzini’s interests.
6. The Apartment
3rd floor, 76 Greene Street, New York
Opened by stylists Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn (who has since departed), The Apartment is an uber-inviting concept store and physical iteration of the fashion and lifestyle website The Line. The showroom is a light-filled SoHo loft divided into rooms (a lounge, a bedroom, and so on), and features set design by Carl Sprague, who is a regular collaborator of movie director Wes Anderson—it’s impossible not to be inspired. On display here are stylish apparel, beauty, and design wares, including items from the likes of Rodin, Susanne Kaufmann, Mansur Gavriel, and Khaite, alongside Jean Prouvé chairs, handcrafted knives by Poglia, and casually elegant Tenfold linens.
Australian designer Lucy Folk has made a name for herself among the fashion world’s most respected with her collection of jewelry, eyewear, and accessories. Charming Vogue editors and style icons such as Beyoncé and Leandra Medine (a.k.a. Man Repeller) alike, she’s taken the brand global thanks to collaborations with other well-respected fashion outlets in Paris and New York. It’s locally, in Sydney, however, that things are really starting to get interesting, with the opening in December 2016 of a bubblegum-pink concept store in Bondi Beach. Small but perfectly formed, the art deco-style interiors by Folk’s longtime collaborator Tamsin Johnson display Folk’s own designs—1950s-inspired acetate frames in muted shades, gold signet rings set with unusual gems, beaded color-block clutches, and artful costume earrings, alongside a range of directional swimwear.