Balenciaga 'raw' concept Bond Street flagship opens this weekend
Saturday sees a big opening on London’s New Bond Street with Balenciaga unveiling its new store at numbers 24 and 25, designed in line with its recently launched Raw Architecture concept but with the whole space also customised to the location.
The concept — unveiled last September at its Sloane Street location, also in London — is certainly an interesting one and is a world away from the ‘dripping in luxury’ look that many upscale brands opt for.
Instead it’s all about “modern luxury” with a more stark, often surprising style that upends preconceptions. Pre-opening, the pictures of the interior — without any product yet on show — really underline just how ‘raw’ that concept really is.
Balenciaga said “the visitor enters a space that has been conceived to instil a sense of temporality and permanence in the present experience. The very nature of authenticity is questioned by the physical simulation of the passage of time”.
In practice that means you can forget the gilding and the plush. Here, Balenciaga products will be “exposed in this suspended setting stand in an atemporal condition, not associated with any specific contingency”. And with a strong nod to sustainability, it added that “this Raw concept results in stores inherently consuming fewer virgin materials”.
The space covers three floors over 710 square metres offering women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, shoes, bags, accessories, eyewear, jewellery, and ‘objects’.
The ground floor’s glazed façade comes to a point at the intersection of New Bond and Conduit Streets, where a stainless-steel door bearing a stamped Balenciaga logo faces the corner.
Illuminated signs on either side of the exterior “hover over floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal a deliberately unfinished — and in places deconstructed — interior”. Fixtures and ceiling appliances are uncovered throughout and an industrial lighting system is “inspired by explosion-proof lamps designed for harsh and hazardous environments”.
A central core connects all three floors, “sealed with glass slabs that reveal an old staircase and an empty elevator shaft”. Each level “represents a stage of deterioration or construction”, featuring stained and cracked concrete, oxidised steel, distressed textiles, stabilised dirt, and mud-like encrustations, but also polished aluminium racks, smooth display cases, and integrated LED screens.
Aged patinas are deployed as finishes, “suspending the space in a state of progress”.
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