Dover Street Market in Paris Is ‘Not Just a Shop’

A GAME OF CLUE: Ahead of the opening of Dover Street Market Paris next month, the retailer’s website keeps drip-feeding clues about the hotly anticipated new fashion destination. News flash: It’s not simply a shop, but more of a building.

“DSMP is like a helix, a diagrammatic manifestation of various connected activities making an integrated whole” reads a five-point manifesto posted this week, that explanation under the header “Community.”

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“The building will contain a store, spaces for art, communication and community, and offices and showrooms for developing brands,” it reads. “It seems more and more a time to pursue the end of borders and classifications. Connections are at the core of humankind.”

The building, a grand 17th-century town house at 35-37 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais district, has been operating for two years as a cultural center, hosting a freewheeling mix of exhibitions, happenings, musical performances, brand installations and retail spaces.

Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe, the two mavericks behind the project, are closely guarding details about the Paris outpost, which is slated to open toward mid-May and roughly coinciding with Dover Street Market’s 20th anniversary. But they have hinted they are recontextualizing the retail emporium that first took root in London and has since spread to Tokyo, Beijing, New York, Singapore and Los Angeles.

Other clues on the Dover Street Market Paris site are more cryptic. Click on the “Communications” tab, and you will see a Morse Code chart and images depiciting cave drawings, horse messengers and smoke signals.

“Commonwealth” yields the wrenching lyrics to “Villanelle for Our Time,” a song by Leonard Cohen based on a poem by Frank Scott, while “Complicity” leads to a high-minded definition of the word.

Not a single brand is mentioned, but it’s clear this new building leaves space for humor. The “Community” tab houses a video of zookeepers gently herding a flock of Emperor penguins down a park path to the tune of “waddle, waddle, waddle.”

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