Where Dior Meets Comme des Garçons

How come that powerhouse fashion brand Dior is opening at edgy Dover Street Market? Nicole Urbschat asks Adrian Joffe

Rei Kawakubo is the supreme avant-guardian dream weaver who founded Comme des Garçons way back in 1973. She and her gang also pioneered pop-ups and guerilla shops in the late 90’s/early 00’s, the first one in our native city of Berlin.

Yet little of her endeavor could be possible without the strategic support of her husband and partner in crime, Adrian Joffe. The softly-spoken, hyper-polyglot entrepreneur is definitively one of the world‘s most exceptional retail managers and the man behind Dover Street Market.

Now Kawakubo and Joffe have teamed up with Belgium’s humble visionary at Dior, Raf Simons, to open a Dior space at the Dover Street Market in London. The custom-designed space is situated on the First Floor alongside such visionary brands like Comme des Garçons, Azzedine Alaia and Rick Owens and will feature a careful edit of important RTW pieces from the runway collection and key accessories.

Together this fearless trio intriguingly shows that there can be a relationship between Comme des Garçons and a big fashion houses like Dior due to one strong common value, that overrides any perceived differences: Fearless creativity.

Adrian Joffe, CEO of Dover Street Market and Comme des Garçons talks shop with our co-editor in chief Nicole Urbschat shortly before the opening of the new space.

Urbschat: Is it becoming irrelevant to be avant-garde these days?
Joffe: There is always avant-garde. Throughout the history of art and fashion. It will never be irrelevant. If there is no avant-garde, there will be nothing. Avant-garde is what comes before anything else.

Why did you choose Dior for a specially designed space at your Dover Street Market alongside with such avant-garde names like Comme des Garcons, Alaia, Rick Owens?
We have always liked to share our spaces with the creators and brands that have a vision, that have something to say. Dior is, without question, a brand with a vision. We like to give the chance to brands like Dior to be free to express themselves in a completely different way than they normally do. And with so called mainstream houses, it all feels very natural because they implicitly understand what we are trying to do.

Can a global brand owned by LVMH like Dior even be avant-garde?
Without doubt they can be. When they have a visionary designer. But perhaps this is the new kind of avant-garde.

What do you like about the work of Raf Simons? Why do you think he is one of the most influencing designers these days?
I have always liked the work of Raf Simons. He is strong, super talented and has a vision and a point of view. He doesn‘t follow. He leads.

At the end of last year, there were some rumors that you will move the London store to a new site in Haymarket. Did you decide to move and why?
Yes, we will move to Haymarket at the end of 2015. To the old Burberry Store. The reason for it, is quite simple: it is three times bigger and we need more space.

Will there be any additional new Dover Street Markets in 2015?
No, London will take up all our time this year.

What is your vision for DSM in the next 5 years?
To become even stronger and more interesting. And then eventually more of them, but just where and when it makes sense.

And what for fashion in general?
There are some great new designers coming up, which is great and we can all look forward to that. But we need to resist globalisation, meaning „lowest common denorminator-lisation”. And too much e-shopping.