[REVIEW] Dover Street Market's Open House During Fashion Week

There always seems to be two distinct groups of so-called “fashion people.” One set of people is attracted to the glitz and the glamour of it all, they can be found throughout fashion week at galas and luxury boutiques. The other set is attracted to fashion through the creativity and possibly the weirdness of it all, and can be found throughout Fashion Week at exclusive downtown parties, shops carrying Hood By Air, and very often, New York’s Dover Street Market. Dover Street Market not only carries the best high fashion that the industry has to offer, it also has become something of a Ground Zero for our city’s creative types. Much of this has to do with the shop’s ability to display fashion in myriad creative ways through the use of concept installations.

At DSMNY’s Fashion Week Open House on Thursday, the store introduced some amazing installations. A ground floor installation designed by exciting new Gucci creative director, Alessandro Michele introduces Gucci’s Cruise 2016 collection, while longtime Raf Simons collaborator and photographer Willy Vanderperre was hanging out signing copies of his new IDEA book ‘636.’ London heritage label Labour and Wait launched its first US shop within the walls of DSMNY, designer Jeanne Signoles was in store celebrating the US launch of her luxe-meets-function bag brand L/Uniform, and John Galliano’s first collection for Maison Margiela was commemorated with a visual installation calling back to Martin Margiela’s famous experiments with paint. All of these installations and appearances were fantastic; Rei Kawakubo accepts no less. But it was particularly heart-warming to see one of my favorite artists (and full disclosure, good friend) JK5, aka Joseph Ari Aloi, giving birth to his installation on DSMNY’s 5th floor.

JK5, who found footing as a tattoo artist and has branched out into a more multi-disciplinary approach, found himself with a monumental opportunity when he found out that Rei Kawakubo was interested in using his work in some capacity in the FW 2015 Comme des Garcons Homme Plus collection. To his astonishment, that capacity was some of his extremely distinct letter forms being featured ALL OVER that collection in mega skinny suits, tights, and leathers.

Aloi has a keen ability to recognize opportunity when he sees it. He is also an avid fashion lover, and particularly enthralled with the world of CDG. He sought to nurture the new creative and business relationship. The lines of dialog stayed open, eventually leading up to this installation.

An open galactic space serves as the backdrop of the installation, true to Aloi’s themes. He is interested in the Force and in the interconnectivity of the universe. When he speaks, he is always looking to connect the dots between events in his life and around him. For him, everything that has happened in his existence has led up to this moment, “It’s all coming around full-circle in exciting ways,” says Aloi. 

For the installation, JK5 lent his creative language to an arsenal of CDG wallets, perfume boxes, and DSM Converse sneakers. Also included were his Rizzoli book, art works, and his new jewelry collection made in conjunction with jewelry designer, Asher Hoffman. The rings and jewels interpret the galactic visual style of JK5 extremely well, and they are really heavy and well-made; they’ll look stylish on your fingers and would also have the (probably) unintentional benefit of being really useful in a bar fight.

Aloi is interested in business and the idea of branding, and it stands to evidence that his visual language translates as well to a variety of products as it does standalone art works. Where he will go from here is wherever his destiny dictates he will go. “The world’s getting the story, and it’s a good one,” says Aloi over text. “Truly lucrative new opportunities. I want to art direct my own brand, that’s the goal.”

Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287