Alexander McQueen Takes Shanghai

“Reach[ing] More People Than We Imagined Was Possible Through The Store Network”

Alexander McQueen Shanghai

Following the opening of the inaugural Beijing Sanlitun boutique in October 2011, Alexander McQueen — under the creative direction of Sarah Burton — is making a second foray into China with the launch of a womenswear store in Shanghai. Realized by architecture and interior design agency David Collins Studio, the 1,600-square-foot space offers a complete range of Alexander McQueen merchandise including runway pieces, ready-to-wear, and accessories including footwear, bags as well as an extensive collection of signature McQueen scarves.

Since the passing of the late Alexander McQueen in February 2010, Burton has taken the helm of the luxury fashion house, reinvigorating the label and guiding the brand in new directions. As PPR chief executive and chairman Francois-Henri Pinault told the Times last year in anticipation of the Beijing opening, “The death of Alexander McQueen and the appointment of Sarah Burton as chief designer has changed the scale of Alexander McQueen’s potential…That is why we have taken the decision to open more stores. Because of the vision that she is bringing, I think it can now reach more people than we imagined was possible through the store network.”

China's first Alexander McQueen boutique opened last year in Beijing

Inspired by all things connoting “savage beauty,” the space references Francis Bacon’s Popes paintings, the Surrealist artist HR Giger, the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, the 18th century salon and Rorschach ink blots while showcasing Alexander McQueen’s own works, notably the heritage tailored jacket and iconic “armadillo” shoe. Undeniably feminine, organic yet manipulated, grotesque and extremely beautiful, the store embodies McQueen while celebrating the female form. As Sarah Burton said of the Shanghai opening, “It’s very McQueen to see something from a distance and think it’s one thing and then to look up close and discover something else. It’s important to us that everything in the stores feels very precious.”

As Collins of the eponymous design studio added, the store is “about McQueen as a point of view, the idea of making a dress out of razor clam shells or sheaves of corn, the manipulation of nature to make ornament. We were thinking about eroticism and sexuality. Everything is exaggerated and very slightly distorted.”

In a time when more brick-and-mortar retailers are feeling the creeping pressure of a slowing Chinese economy and greater competition from a fast-growing high-end e-commerce segment, it’s at once refreshing and nerve-wracking to see top brands like Alexander McQueen actively building and investing in physical store presence in an arguably maxed-out China retail sector. However, if we were to choose a brand whose chances for brick-and-mortar success in the current China luxury market remained high, it’d definitely be a more niche label like McQueen rather than a mega-brand with dozens of existing locations.

Alexander McQueen Shanghai
Réel Mall
Unit 110, 1st Floor
1601 Nanjing Road West, Shanghai 200040


Art & Design, Fashion, Market Analysis, Marketing, Retail