The new 158,000 sq ft space occupies a whole block on 7th Avenue between 17 & 18th Streets, a significant site for Barney’s because this is where it was established in 1923.
The Barney’s Chelsea store is designed by architects Steven Harris and it has an open floor plan, with an atrium occupying its centre, dominated by an elegant white stucco spiral staircase. The luxury is evident in the space’s polished bronze and marble fixtures with the cuboid and hexagonal display tables and chairs. The store’s USP has always been in its own edit of the best brands in fashion and as such there are no obvious shop-in-shops or branded spaces.
Within the five-floor space there is a Fred’s restaurant and bar, a barber, a personal shopping suite and a beauty treatment spa. And as the store is opening during New York Fashion Week its windows are given over to the work of photographer Bruce Weber who is showing portraits he shot in and around the city’s streets last year.
“It’s about showing the product. There are no shops-in-shop. No vendor logos. It’s all the Barneys aesthetic,” said Mark Lee, the company’s chief executive officer. “Brands understand what Barneys is about and have accepted that it’s our differentiation. We are a specialty store — not a department store.” Shoppers come to see “the Barneys edit.”
“Customers tell me they feel they can breathe in a Barneys and that many big stores feel claustrophobic — that they’re overwhelmed by merchandise, logos, the graphics,” he continued. “We’ve created an oasis of calm, beauty, luxuriousness, to really let the product shine.”
“There’s a social aspect that we share throughout all of our stores,” commented Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer and senior executive vice president. “Barneys becomes a meeting place for everyone. People want to linger, spend a day or half a day here. Barneys Chelsea is really designed that way. It’s generous in terms of seating. We have a beautiful restaurant. We have created something really sumptuous, with almost a residential feel.”
The ground level houses women’s and men’s leather goods and accessories and fine jewelry. Throughout the floor are biomorphic-shaped display tables made from granite and marble. Leather goods include Christian Louboutin, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, The Row, Anya Hindmarch, Azzedine Alaïa, Fendi, Loewe, Proenza Schuler, Delvaux, Moreau and Altuzarra.
Moving to fine jewelry, directly to the right, Lee reiterated the exclusive appeal, with capsule collections just for the downtown store from Irene Neuwirth, Feathered Soul, Sidney Garber and Tate. “We generally don’t share our jewelry designers with any major stores,” Lee said. Barneys is also launching Raphaele Canot, a London jewelry designer, this season.
The below-ground foundation floor features cosmetics, skincare, fragrances and men’s grooming, in a similar aesthetic to Barneys in Beverly Hills and on Madison Avenue, with sculptural white textured walls designed with an abstract motif, white terrazzo flooring and custom-made cosmetic stools with polished stainless steel frames and cognac leather seats. Brands include 111skin, 3lab, Tatcha, Mila Moursi, Natura Bissé, Sisley, La Mer, Bellatorra, Clé de peau, Chanel, Givenchy, By Terry, Surratt and Chantecaille Hourglass. “The floor is light, bright, simple, really devoid of brand installations,” Lee pointed out.
The second floor, with floor-to-ceiling marble and sculptural brass display tables, features women’s ready-to-wear and shoes. Key designers include Alaïa, Saint Laurent, Gabriela Hearst, Ulla Johnson, Narciso Rodriguez, Lisa Perry, Tim Coppens, Helmut Lang, Isabel Marant, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Derek Lam, Balmain, Maud Heline, Acne, Re/Done, R13, Valentino, Balenciaga, Altuzarra, Paco Rabanne and Nili Lotan.
The third floor has men’s sportswear, furnishings and footwear, set amid darker marbles and much natural light, and Freds. Among the key men’s labels are Saint Laurent, Van Noten, Acne Studios, Valentino, Yohji Yamamoto, Hood by Air, Maison Margiela, Rick Owens, Thom Browne, Balenciaga, Fendi, Moncler, Fear of God, Kanye West and Simon Miller.
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