The house of Balmain has opened its first American flagship store at 100 Wooster Street, in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The 2,150-square-foot space carries the French brand’s men’s, women’s and accessories collections; beginning this summer, it will display the new collection of Balmain Kids, as well.
“It had to be SoHo,” explains Olivier Rousteing, the house’s creative director. “Anyone who knows me knows that I find America incredibly inspiring. I admire its uniquely open spirit, mix of peoples and impressive culture—and New York is all that, multiplied by a thousand! I fell in love with the city the first time I visited, and ever since, I try to see as much as possible each time I’m there. But what most intrigues me is that amazing mix of energy, creativity and beauty that you find in downtown Manhattan.”
The store was designed by Studio KO’s Olivier Marty and Karl Founier. It riffs on Villa Balmain, the beautiful mid-century vacation home on the Italian island of Elba that served as M. Balmain’s retreat. “For us, this project was much more architectural and residential than decorative and retail,” explains Marty. “I like to think that the space that we have created could actually serve as the interior of a modern house perched on a Mediterranean cliff.”
Inside the space are many references to the greats of mid-century art and design, including plaster walls recall the signature styles of Barragan and Niemeyer, a ceiling pattern of white beams is inspired by Phillip Johnson and the perspective of repeating black marble-lined archways channels the spirit of De Chirico. There are also several allusions to the house’s original flagship and ateliers, including repeated touches of gold and brass, impressive mirrors and re-editions of classic 20th century French furniture designs.
“Olivier’s obviously done an amazing job in helping to introduce this historic house to America,” points out Emmanuel Diemoz, Balmain’s CEO. “With each collection, interest and sales have grown exponentially. But as satisfied as we are with that growth, we’ve always been frustrated that so much of our collection has been inaccessible to the American shopper. This new flagship store will allow us to show a much more complete selection of Olivier’s designs, which I expect will help sales grow even more quickly on that side of the Atlantic.”