Celebrity fashion designer Domenico Vacca has opened a 10-storey retail destination just off Fifth Avenue that comprises a boutique for men’s and women’s fashion, an Italian espresso bar and cafe, a barber shop, a beauty salon, a private members-only club, and 30 serviced apartments. Boasting neighbors such as Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, The Plaza and of course the Museum of Modern Art, the flagship for Vacca, who famously dresses the actor Jeremy Piven in “Entourage,” opened on May 3 — a significant upgrade from his first New York boutique, which opened up the street, next to Cipriani, 13 years ago.
The luxurious oasis of brown leather sofas even acts as an art gallery with rotating exhibitions, curated by Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, who runs the HG Contemporary gallery in Chelsea.
The first one, titled "Numero Uno," comprises artworks by emerging artists such as Retna, McCrow, Domingo Zapata, and Emmanuel Cayere.
Ahead of the multi-storey, multi-concept store’s opening, Blouin Lifestyle caught up with Vacca and Hoerle-Guggenheim on fashion, art, and luxury.
How did you get the idea to collaborate with each other?
Hoerle-Guggenheim: We met through a dear mutual friend who saw how we could benefit from working together. There’s a lot of synergy between fashion, lifestyle and art. The way Domenico designs his lines of clothing makes him an artist as well.
Domenico Vacca: We connected over art, fashion and our European backgrounds. (Vacca is Italian, from Puglia; Hoerle-Guggenheim was born in Tours, France and raised in Bonn, Germany.) I thought it was a great match; that we could do great things together.
What’s the idea behind displaying art in the boutique?
Vacca: With this project, my idea was to create a destination that was not only about fashion and luxury, but also art and experience. From the sculpture at the entrance of the store, to Zapata’s paintings in the club, it’s an opportunity to give life to walls that otherwise would have been just walls.
How do you select the artists you want to represent?
Hoerle-Guggenheim: Relevant, emerging, Modern and Pop artists bring a breath of fresh air to the already beautiful space here. In many ways it’s an extension of my gallery, but I focus on solo shows in my gallery. Doing a group show in this store, however, seems to make sense.
Vacca: For me it was very important to connect with the artist and the artwork. In fashion, a pattern or color sometimes talks to you. These are all artworks that speak to me, and they come with stories and histories, and represent a certain stage in the career that the artist is in. It’s all about creating a conversation, like in menswear, where we create pieces and details, like a curved breast pocket, that inspire people to ask questions.
Are you trying to create a lifestyle destination with this new store?
Vacca: Lifestyle and luxury are the most overused words in the world, but it’s easier for people to say it than to do it. What luxury means is to do something at the highest level of standards, and I didn’t want to open another 2,000 sq ft store that just sold clothes. I wanted to do hospitality, with private residences. I wanted to go into coffee, because it’s very Italian, it’s how we get together for a chat. I wanted to have a barber shop because I don’t think there’s a civilized barbershop in this city.
And I don’t want to just have paintings on the wall, I want to create an art gallery that is going to be relevant. I don’t think there are any galleries in this area that has this quality of art. Plus, the art is in different places throughout the space, so sometimes it looks like it’s a gallery, and sometimes it looks like it’s in a home.
Hoerle-Guggenheim: In my gallery on 23rd Street, it’s a beautiful white box, but it takes a true art connoisseur to be able to view a piece in that setting and put it into perspective. Here, it’s easier for a customer to visualize something in your own home. This is how we find, and connect with new collectors.