Corneliani - Flagship Store
London - New Bond Street
The oldest tailor’s shop in London
The location is prestigious. It is the oldest male fashion shop in England, BEALE & ILMAN, which has been a veritable institution for centuries, as it is shown on its walls decorated with framed cheques from illustrious customers such as writer Charles Dickens or Napoleon III. Everything approved by the Westminster City Council. The untouchable external front window (even the Corneliani logo has been redone keeping the same style of the old one); the interiors in English Gothic revival style – in particular the old cash counter – all of them to be preserved. These are the Landlord’s requests apparently incompatible with those of customers.
The attainment of the necessary approvals by the Westminster City Council has been very challenging; in order to obtain them, a thorough report had to be submitted to the WCC, in which each design choice has been explained.
Expressing fashion beyond fashion
Mr Corneliani asks us to express the maximum elegance of its Italian brand and to reconcile exhibition capacity with the essentiality of displays- new materials and new technologies, but in the context of a classic internal space; not in the stylistic sense, but rather beyond fashion, as Oscar Wilde said.
For this reason, we have conceived the boutique as if we had had to rebuild an historical building, Corneliani house in London.
Disassembly of the historical shop
The careful disassembly phase of the historical shop and the partial transformation into museum pieces of some of its parts in a suitable area near the tailor’s shop have given us greater design freedom with respect to the original requests by the London institution in charge of protecting artistic and architectural works.
The technical, plant engineering arrangement of the two floors of the shop has been made in the space of the single existing suspended ceiling – the one of the basement – with the adequate rises along the side walls for the continuous wiring of the pieces of furniture along the walls; the top of the furniture has been used for spreading conditioned air, and the retake points have been placed in hidden areas of the pieces of furniture.
The ground floor
The ground floor is characterised by a warm, comfortable atmosphere, a 100% Italian “home feeling”. Even though the external historical façade was left intact, when getting into the shop, the visitor is received by a flag with black carbon fibre stripes with polished stainless steel threads reintroducing the original Corneliani logo; materials and drawings that bring the shop image back to modernity.
Floor laying required particular care. It was traced in situ by the architect in order to redesign the ceiling spans with the stainless steel threads and the grain-change.
The large hall
Then, the large hall is opened. It has a type of wall display that enables the preparation of different sale settings. A central part for exhibiting total look articles and two side walls conceived as openable boiseries with retractable doors. With an elegant move by the sales staff, the customer can see how the chests are opened before his eyes, the treasure of Corneliani shop with the selection of articles of the collection related with those that were seen exhibited in the central niche. Capacity and exhibition elegance combined in a move.
The basement and the museum
The basement includes all the service areas, the tailor’s shop and the small museum inside the shop director’s office. It also includes the lounge area dedicated to the sports collection and leather goods and a sartorial VIP room.
The stucco ceilings and the “lighting rafts”
Thanks to a special system of built-in pieces of furniture, all the systems that cannot be placed in the suspended ceiling – as it is the case in most shops – can be accommodated there, as stucco ceilings are also controlled by the English Superintendency. This control has also led to the development of a system for placing lighting devices at a height suitable for the articles exhibited- the “lighting rafts”. For each span, a large platform made of light wood and woven with leather braids, which take the surface to pieces in a modern Mondrian style, is used to place small lamp-holders made of pleated fabric containing the technical lights for correct product lighting.
Special care was required for the extremely delicate lifting of the platforms for placing the “lighting rafts”; they have been mounted and placed on the ground in the corresponding spans and lifted with forklift trucks in order to be hung on steel wires to the overhanging floor.
The old parquet coated with ebony
The structural and decorative scanning of the ceiling is also applied to the floor. Here, the WCC has also forbidden the use – perhaps too Italian – of marble and has forced us to use wooden cladding of the old parquet, leaving it intact underneath. We have chosen the most marmoreal wood- polished ebony, which was meticulously selected and laid within stainless steel threads continuing the building spans.
The boiseries open in special niches coated and lighted as precious caskets, by means of a special concealed handle.
When the door is pressed, it opens like a book; in a single move, it is laterally wrapped in the niche thickness, thus disappearing.
The floor is made of macassar ebony, the most precious wood, which is recognizable due to its characteristic marmoreal grains, treated with a special scratch-resistant polished paint.
The ebony natural grains have been carefully selected in order to correctly balance its clear parts and its dark parts.
Special platforms made of light wood and called “lighting rafts” have been designed; they have been hung with steel cables to the historical floor and used for placing the technical lighting devices at a suitable height for correct product lighting.
The transformers have been embedded in the thickness of the perimeter frames made of light wood, while lamp-holders made of pleated fabric have been made for containing the technical lights.
In order to meet the customer’s request of keeping a black background for its wooden logo, we have used polished black carbon fibre, manufactured in limited edition for Corneliani by a company specialised in the luxury car industry.