While Christian Dior readied its 57th Street, Manhattan, store for renovation, a temporary store was opened slightly further uptown to serve its customers while the flagship was under construction. The Gensler design team was given two months to create a unique space that Christian Dior wanted to celebrate its fashion heritage, but in a very contemporary way.
The design approach retained existing signature elements with a modern twist, leveraging the fashion house’s rich history and archive of images while reinterpreting the space’s existing architectural elements in a fresh way.
Because it is a temporary space, the design team created an envelope with minimal intervention on the existing architecture. Instead of built hard lines, wall-applied illustrative drawings were used to create the feeling of custom interiors and architectural statements. Gensler simulated 9-ft.-high panels of sleek metallic gray using printed vinyl applied to level 5-finish drywall, creating individualized merchandise areas within the enfilade of rooms. Dior’s existing signature furniture and fixtures completed the space.
Due to the store’s location in the Madison Avenue Historic District, all exterior awnings, signage, lighting, and planters had to be approved by The Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The team researched the Dior Salons and ateliers of the past for inspiration to leverage their history and rich image archives. Traditional brand assets from the original scheme—including hounds tooth, cross hatch, lily of the valley, roses, oval frames, bows, and French wall paneling—were integrated with inspiration from Dior’s first collection on Avenue Montaigne in Paris.
The team worked with artist Ann Field to recreate these assets as illustrations in the style of Christian Dior himself. The illustrator’s original brush renderings were composited and then printed on digital film. They could be seen throughout the entire store, from walls to dressing rooms, mirrors, windows, elevators, and stairwell railings. The stairwell featured illustrative graphics of architectural elements and fashion illustrations, including an homage portrait to Monsieur Dior. The dressing rooms, framed in lush drapery, feature whimsical illustrations and portraits of glamorous women inside.
By harnessing Dior’s signature brand elements with the added modern touch, a fresh store was created that also kept the integrity of the brand.
Kathleen Jordan (project manager), Lance Boge (design director), John Bricker (creative director), Leah Ho (designer)
Ann Field (illustrator)
Applied Image (environmental graphics), Shawmut (contractor), Dazian Fabrics (awnings and drapes)