ofOver a seven year period Pentagram’s William Russell has designed six Alexander McQueen flagship stores: in London, Tokyo, Milan, NY, LA and Las Vegas. Five are branded interiors, while LA gave Russell the opportunity to design the architecture as well. All share a theatrical quality with the fashion designer’s clothes and catwalk shows, transporting you into a world of organic, ethereal shapes.
The interior design uses plaster and sheet aluminium to create the illusion of shapes carved from rock, with walls, floors and ceilings that flow into each other. A ceiling below comes up through the floor above to form a balustrade; fixtures behave like stalactites suspended from the ceilings; shelves are cut out of pillars, blurring the boundary between the elements. Iridescent chips of mother-of-pearl sparkle from a terrazzo ‘carpet’ the natural colour of wet sand. The organic themes are reflected in the curved white stucco and glass frontage of the new-build LA store and richly planted, secluded courtyard at the rear.
The store brand has recently been developed through a series of franchised outlets, beginning with a free-standing retail units in Istanbul and Russia and a store-within-a-store in Tokyo. Each provides a blueprint for future locations and draws on a family of elements drawn from the flagships and developed into a concept manual that can be rolled out with consistency across any location.
For ‘McQ’, McQueen’s denim diffusion line, the design is further developed, taking the striking forms of the original concept and reapplying them using different materials – silvered steel and oak – to create a more industrial, younger look. The first installation was unveiled at Printemps in Paris in 2006.