by Stephen Garner

Balenciaga has opened a new New York City flagship, with over 4,400 square feet of uniquely designed retail space, taking up the southwestern corner of Madison Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan.

The new store’s architecture reflects creative director Demna Gvasalia’s interest in the concept of a public domain. A mostly-glass storefront leads the eye to the street if inside and to the diverse interior if outside. From either side, one sees a mix of elements taken from metropolitan exterior design and original artworks.

Near the entrance, wraparound screens display looping, atmospheric video. Throughout, totems host animated arrangements of Balenciaga products and everyday objects in urban settings. Also on display is an original artwork by Tobias Spichtig, part of a series commissioned for 22 Balenciaga stores worldwide. For these sculptures, archival Balenciaga garments are dipped in resin and pulled into expressive positions. For the New York centerpiece, the artist created a unique work, lacquered with metallic silver.

For a limited time, a bag customization program offers new and classic bags tagged with customers’ names, initials, or birthdates by an on-site graffiti artist. In addition, as its first exclusive product, a limited edition “New York” version of the slate grey leather Balenciaga Shopping Tote is only available at the new New York flagship.

Civic furniture designed for the new New York store takes inspiration from transitory platforms. Seats are upholstered with public transportation patterns, while benches represent designs found in parks. New hyper-real mannequins based on 3-D scans of Balenciaga runway models are exhibited throughout the store, further blurring the line between synthesized and natural public domains.