Tom’s YSL Update: Rougher Space Puts Focus on Accessories

Tom Ford’s new Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche store on East 57th Street opened Monday, showing a sleek, polished interior with rustic accents.

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“Saint Laurent for me was about black, night, evening — sexy but in a different way. So when I was designing it, I was very conscious of making it very YSL, but also very different from Gucci,” said Ford.

By tweaking the color palette, using different materials and aiming for a narrower, more vertical design aesthetic, Ford and architect William Sofield have managed to keep both brands’ stores unique.

Also, in a move that marks a bit of a departure for the designer, Ford has implemented white rooms — to counter the darkness of other YSL stores.

“There’s a lot of white in this store which is really in response to our customers. Black is my favorite. The Madison Avenue store has much more black in it, which I personally love. I mean, I live in a black glass house. I really like that,” said the designer.

“But we had had comments from a lot of customers that felt it was too dark, so we added some white…there are more white rooms in this store than there were in the first generation [of stores].”

Not quite an explosion of color, the bright white rooms, along with the dove gray accents sprinkled throughout the store, should satisfy naysayers tired of his ultimately chic, but darkened retail enclaves.

Yet the design of the 57th Street store isn’t all about weighty design philosophies. It’s also an exercise in keen business acumen. YSL’s accessories business has grown under Ford’s helm and the company is making a push to properly showcase the burgeoning product category. The first floor is made up entirely of accessories, with an array of Nadja and Mombasa bags in varied hues, a nook for YSL Beauté, and a first-ever shoe salon in the back — an exclusive addition to the 57th Street location. The women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections are situated on the second floor.

“Accessories have a big part of our business, which is something I’m very proud of because when I first started there was an amazing history of clothes, obviously, and shoes to a certain extent, but there really wasn’t culturally a YSL vocabulary for handbags,” said Ford. “We’ve been able to establish ourselves very quickly as a serious handbag company as well as a clothing company.
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