With a digital clock projected on the back wall counting down the days (10), hours (45), minutes (00) and seconds (00) until the new flagship store opened in New York City, Nordstrom Live kicked off at Milk Studios in Chelsea. The biannual event gathers fashion's leaders for an immersive exchange—a discussion between the brands and the people who represent them on the floor. For the first time, the world's top luxury houses—all represented in the 320,000-square-foot retail space in Central Park Tower—presented to 81 of Nordstrom's best designer salespeople, assembled from across the country.
"I couldn't think of a better partnership than the great American designer and the great American retailer, Nordstrom," said Carolina Herrera president Emilie Rubinfeld as she introduced Wes Gordon, the house's creative director. The 32-year-old Gordon assumed the helm from Carolina Herrera in February of 2018, receiving critical acclaim for his preservation of the Herrera signature on his modern interpretations. "The responsibility of all of us in fashion is to provide happiness," Gordon told the room, as they viewed his delightfully vibrant designs for spring. "In a sea of muddy colors, Herrera is the rainbow on the rack."
"I want to lift women up," designer Brandon Maxwell said about his collections. "I'm a man and, as much as I think I'm very feminine, it's a learning curve." He spoke about coming to understand the customer, modifying his designs to meet her needs and comfort, and not dictating what she should wear. "Not everyone is going to a cocktail party," he said about the sophisticated jeans, blazers and button-ups that appear in his collections, among glamorous gowns.
Sies Marjan's Sander Lak lounged on a shearling sofa relocated from his studio as he spoke about his still young but beloved brand. Wearing an emerald (his favorite color this moment) silk shirt and matching trousers, Lak discussed how he inspires joy with Sies Marjan's prismatic designs, a feeling that was evident during his presentation and his talk-show like interviews with members of his team.
Vogue's Nicole Phelps moderated a discussion with Chloe's Director of Archives, Geraldine-Julie Sommier, which covered the brand's evolution under its illustrious designers: Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Clare Waight Keller and Natacha Ramsay-Levi. Designs from these epochs were flown in and displayed. One featured a guitar-shaped bodice; another had back beading resembling a shower from Lagerfeld's collections in the '60s.
Fendi, Max Mara and Burberry presented their stunning Fall collections. Claire Bergkamp, Stella McCartney Worldwide Director of Sustainability and Innovation, shared the incredible impact designers can have when they're committed to a sustainable future. Jewelry designer Maria Tash showcased the art of the "curated ear." InStyle Editor-in-Chief Laura Brown queried Ganni's Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup about making "Designer" more affordable. And the Nordstrom crew engaged in a discussion about how to use in-store stylists and alterations teams to ensure a perfect fit.
"All the runway shows, fittings and models: it all boils down to someone somewhere buying clothes, and that involves you," said Saint Laurent's President of Americas, Brant Cryder to the Nordstrom team. "And you guys are about to walk into one of the newest and most beautiful stores this city has ever seen."
Before the store officially opened, Nordstrom Live attendees toured (and shopped) it, having a pasta dinner at Ethan Stowell's restaurant Wolf—his first East Coast outpost—located on the second floor. "We are not going back to the department stores of 1959. We're doing something more relevant," Pete Nordstrom told the group. Speaking of the New York space, which includes seven restaurants and bars, floor-to-ceiling windows, curated shopping experiences by Nike and Burberry, a styling lounge and a floor dedicated to beauty services, the company co-president thanked those gathered. "Ultimately, the success or failure of Nordstrom has to do with you guys," Nordstrom said, "how you connect with the customer. When people think of Nordstrom, they think of you."