The Moment: Friday morning, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen welcomed the first guests to their new Manhattan flagship for The Row on the Upper East Side, with trays of caviar served for breakfast. Caviar is a form of eggs, you know.
Stepping into the world of The Row is, even in the smallest details, a transporting experience, as Los Angeles shoppers have known since the Olsens opened their first store on Melrose Place there three years ago. That store is very mid-century modern in aesthetic, decorated with fantastic furniture pieces that accentuate their clean and serene collections, with multiple small rooms surrounding a minimalist atrium with potted plants and a reflecting pool.
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The New York store, in a townhouse at 17 East 71st Street that was formerly a Japanese teahouse, the Olsens have created a store that is even more ambitious in its design statement. For this location, they collaborated with Jacques Grange, the Paris-based interior architect who is famed for having designed homes for Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, and many more, and the results here telegraph both his signature sense of richness and the studied restraint of the Olsens. That is to say, those may be multi-million dollar paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat on the walls, and a Calder mobile hanging from the ceiling, but the extravagance is not remotely over the top.
The main floor—there are three here—is surprisingly welcoming, with wide-open views of the street and not too much product, besides shoes and accessories, on display. Much of the ready-to-wear resides on the second floor, merchandised largely by color, with a strong range of options of Row highlights like crisp shirts, leather sweatshirts, collarless blazers, and long knit dresses. On the top floor, there are more collection pieces, shown on custom racks of crisscross blond wood designed by Grange himself, and also dishes and ceramics by Masa.
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Why It’s a Wow: It’s no secret that times are tough for traditional stores, and that designers, to give customers a reason to shop, are increasingly pressed upon to create experiences as much as spaces. Not many have the resources to create something as enticing as this, a store that could legitimately rival a gallery of furniture of art. It would not be surprising if some customers drop by simply to study their taste, to pick up a few decorating tips, or just to ogle the artwork, like the Basquiat painted on what appears to be a panel of hardwood flooring, or the Keith Haring drawings, or the Noguchi table, or the dining set by Jacques Adnet.
As with the Los Angeles store, everything here is for sale. Of course, there are no price tags hanging on the artwork, as this is a clever way to draw interest (the pieces were sourced from galleries such as Delorenzo, Wyeth, and Gallery BAC) and the displays can periodically change as the furniture comes and goes. Although, as they say, if you have to ask…
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Learn More: When in New York, visit The Row at 17 East 71st Street, or take a tour of the best shopping destinations on Melrose Place, including their store, which opened there in 2014.