Openings: LA Designer John Elliott’s New SoHo, NYC Boutique

Cali fashion designer John Elliott is in a “New York State of Mind,” with the opening of his 2700-square-foot retail flagship at 270 Lafayette Street in SoHo. And so BlackBook took the occasion to speak with the rising fashion star about his choice to open a physical retail space in Gotham, while we’re still struggling out of this deadly pandemic.

It marks his third brick and mortar location, after hometown Los Angeles and then Miami (his celebrity fans include Kaia Gerber, Zan Efron, John Legend, and Hailey Bieber) – and in conceiving its decidedly sleek design, Elliott has continued his collaboration with architect Stefan Wiemer. The result is marked by soaring 16-foot windows that veritably bring the bright the daylight and surrounding urban landscape inside, where multiple open rooms are laid out in a thoroughly modern manner. In fact, you might think you’ve stepped into an art gallery (Remember when SoHo had great art galleries?)

The clothes are displayed using a continuous network of white tubing, which adds to the dramatic effect provided by the tall windows, and the walls are done in white Japanese tiling. What was Elliott’s intent with the design? “I’m hoping for a sense of calm. It’s inviting from the outside. The continuous fixture (tubular installation from which the clothes are suspended) feels like a piece of art, so I’m hoping there’s a sense of wonder and curiosity that draws you in.” 

With so many high-profile retail spaces closing, though, we wanted to understand the thinking behind his investment in a new physical boutique, within one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Gotham. “We saw the success we have enjoyed at Melrose (Los Angeles), and could see there’s a real appetite for our offerings in certain markets. The next step is putting your best foot forward. New York is our biggest market, so it was a no brainer.”

The space of course houses Elliott’s latest collection, which he says is inspired by NYC itself. “Each season, it’s about elevating what we’ve already done, and telling a new story. For this particular season, we targeted New York. With that in mind, we focused on a new outerwear offering, and an elevated knitwear offering. You’ll see footwear from Italy, a more robust woven offering, and overall, a smarter approach to the way we dress.”

The boutique also boasts a mezzanine overlooking the retail space below, featuring selections from artful publisher Taschen, smartly curated by Elliott himself. This means books on Wolfgang Tillmans, Frida Kahlo, a limited edition David Hockney SUMO, even the new Anton Corbijn Depeche Mode photo collection. The designer tells us that his personal favorites are BIG. Hot to Cold. An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation, and Astrology. The Library of Esoterica.  

And where exactly does the native Californian like to hang out when in New York? “Definitely the area around our store. After work – and seemingly we’re always working late – I love to eat at Cafe Select. We threw an afterparty in their backroom for one of our runway shows. It’s one of those places where you always run into friends.”

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