The exciting development in New York luxury shopping this festive season was not the unveiling of the holiday windows along Fifth Avenue. A more highly anticipated retail vision was receiving its finishing touches in a decidedly less glamourous part of a town. The area, known as Kips Bay, is a patch of concrete along the EastRiver south of 23rd Street known for frat boys and dry cleaners (two elements inextricably linked, I have found), Indian restaurants, a cinema, and various anonymous high rises chock-a-block with starter apartments whose residents will move somewhere more suitable just as soon as they get that promotion. Who am I to judge? At least they’ve got their act together and bought an apartment…But that’s another story.
Anyway, not to continue to cast aspirsions but I can’t help but mention, the word kip, where I come from, has less than salubrious connotations. It means a dump or a bed. For dump, see “He treats his mother’s house like a kip, beer cans everywhere.” For bed: “He draws unemployment and lies up in his kip from morning to night.” (Who is this loser?) Add Bay to the word Kips and it almost qualifies as an oxymoron around those parts.
But Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market opened regardless of my feelings on her chosen location. Not that she doesn’t know what she’d doing, let’s be clear. Far be it from me… a mere commoner, but a humble onlooker, awed by her wizardry. Already established Dover Street Markets in London and Tokyo are pilgrimage destinations for fashion’s most dedicated. And she is not one to be daunted by planting her flag in uncharted territory, positively relishes the sound of the pole squelching through virgin soil.
I was Kips Bay bound.
I stepped in off the street and found myself in a playpen erected of scrap timber (my favorite smell in the whole world) and knitted pillars, striped jerseys and stacked crates, patchwork walls and waterskis, baseball caps and corrugated iron, sequined sleeves and broken electronics, acid trip stairwells and glittery shoes. The experience was further enriched by repeated glimpses of international women of mystery wearing chapeaux.
Well, I’ll be…Kips Bay is on the up and up. Observe the price of those starter apartments escalate and prepare for a hipster invasion.
In need of some reading material for the new year? My first novel set in the international fashion industry is available.You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.