In 1991, Carla Sozzani created what is widely regarded as the world’s first concept store: Milan’s legendary 10 Corso Como. Housed in a former garage, the gallery-meets-boutique-and-restaurant showcases a unique mix of fashion, design, photography, music, books and art.
“10 Corso Como is about living an experience,” says Sozzani, a publisher and former fashion editor. The retail pioneer now has stores around the globe, and last week opened her first US location — in New York’s historic Seaport District. Occupying the entire first floor of the former Fulton Fish Market, the emporium features her signature gallery, garden, café and restaurant. Here, she talks shop with Alexa.
Why did you choose the under-the-radar Seaport district?
We are only opening in New York because of this location: the historic Fulton Market Building, famous to so many New Yorkers as one of the first places in the city to buy and sell goods, established in 1822. The neighborhood is like a village — all the houses are low, and no cars! The sea is here, and the harbor where New Amsterdam started. It’s also a place where many artists had their working studios in the 1960s. And the space! 28,000 square feet that we will surround with a garden. I feel very much at home.
Your philosophy is slow shopping, but New Yorkers are always in a hurry. How will you get them to linger?
10 Corso Como is about shopping with all of your senses, like a 3-D magazine. The idea is to take your time, look at the exhibits, have a good lunch al fresco or shop for a new fall coat. It’s a place to meet friends and share values.
Your partner — Kris Ruhs, a Queens-born artist — designs the look of all your stores. Was he amazed by the transformation of the neighborhood?
Kris was the one who was really fascinated by the idea of opening in the Fulton Market Building. As a New Yorker, to be back in the area that he knew in the ’70s and creating a project has been a happy experience for him.
Share some of your favorite 10 Corso Como memories.
The opening on Sept. 9, 1991, was amazing. We opened the store at 9 a.m., but as we had spent the night before getting everything ready, we were leaving to go home to shower while people were passing us to come in. The exhibition of Helmut Newton’s photographs in 1993 was personally very exciting. We had worked together in magazines, but this was a show about his work as an artist. There was a queue around the block.
Any unexpected mishaps?
We had an exhibition of [designer] André Courrèges — ultra-modern, futuristic — and the electric station for the whole area broke down. The show, and all of 10 Corso Como, was lit in romantic candlelight for the entire evening.
Describe your perfect day in New York.
Museums and a slow lunch with friends. No rush.
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