Every few months during my mom’s childhood, she and my grandmother would pile into my grandfather’s Cadillac and drive an hour to visit I.Magnin, a now defunct luxury department store in Los Angeles. My mom still wistfully recalls I.Magnin when referencing department stores. I never understood how one could attribute such longing to a brick and mortar store (yes, I’m on the cusp of millennialism), but after stepping into Forty Five Ten at Hudson Yards, I get it.
Kristen Cole, President and Chief Creative Officer of Forty Five Ten and 4510/ Six, has created the next generation of department stores with Forty Five Ten at Hudson Yards by blending art and fashion into four distinct store fronts — Women’s Designer, Men’s Designer, Vintage, and 4510/SIX, dedicated to emerging labels.
Okay, truthfully I was bitten by the bug of adoration for Kristen after we shot her in Dallas last November. I was giddy to have a Forty Five Ten open in New York so I could be immersed in Kristen’s vision whenever I please. I say “immersed” because stepping into any Forty Five Ten is like stepping into your cooler, older sister’s mind — you know, the sister whose room you snuck into to try on her clothes, thumb through her art books and magazines while listening to her records. That cooler, older sister was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about her inspiration, want for modern retail experiences, and working with her husband to design Forty Five Ten at Hudson Yards.
It’s not too early to say I will be making the pilgrimage to Forty Five Ten quite often in the upcoming years. If only I had a Cadillac to do so in…
In a time where the digital experience is as important as the in person experience, we have heightened our efforts at Forty Five Ten to create a truly exceptional in-store shopping experience. Our digital arm is the backbone and connects our client with our product, news and brand, but for me, the real connections clients make one-on-one with us trumps all. I always feel the pressure (and joy) to provide not only an exceptional edit and designer brand mix, but great service and a layered, inspiring, multi-sensory experience for our shoppers—I think a lot about the experience of seeing art in the right place. Every piece we sell should feel special, purposeful, and elevated. Nothing irks me more than seeing sloppy merchandising. I see fashion as art, so I don’t want to see it diminished by thoughtless display.
What, specifically, about Hudson Yards was so appealing for Forty Five Ten.?
Well, on the note of art, Hudson Yards’ proximity to the Highline, Chelsea and all the galleries we love— the Dia, The Whitney Museum and more— felt like perfect alignment for our brand and our clientele. We were also compelled by the critical mass of things to do and see in Hudson Yards. The restaurants alone on our fifth floor are a fabulous reason to visit Hudson Yards. Forty Five Ten sits between Bouchon Bakery, David Chang’s new concept Kawi, Milos and Thomas Keller’s TAK Room. Each of our seven stores have great dining either within or around them, so we embrace that element of this experiential shopping approach.
The four individual spaces that comprise Forty Five Ten at Hudson Yards were designed by you in collaboration with your husband, Joe Cole. What was it like working together? Do you routinely collaborate and share inspiration?
Joe and I really have a shared vision and aesthetic when it comes to design and fine art. We collaborate best creatively when it is on a very specific project, that speaks to us both. We knew intuitively that Forty Five Ten New York needed to be cool, fresh and forward. What would compel us to shop there? We were in sync immediately to create a modern shop by way of lo-fi futuristic influences and materials. We hired a number of talented artists and fabricators to work with us to achieve the vision. We are so happy with how the spaces have turned out, and we both shop there, of course…
In addition to fashion, Forty Five Ten also curates an amazing selection of “not fashion” goods for the home and beauty. Do you use the same discerning eye you use for fashion, when curating for the home and beauty? Or is it a different part of your buying instinct that kicks into gear?
Yes, the design, art and beauty are just as important to me as the fashion. This is truly a lifestyle brand, and I live with everything we sell. My home (and closet in particular) is filled with the designers, contemporary artists and makers we sell and showcase at Forty Five Ten. It’s an extension of my aesthetic and I’ve always loved the concept and the energy created from the unexpected mix of product. I love watching how our client cross-shops between our designer ready-to-wear, our printed matter, our design objects… it expands the conversation and hopefully gives everyone something new to discover. I love clean modernism– but with rich textures, vintage nods, and artful expressions.
Where do you look to, outside of fashion, for inspiration? Are there certain artists, musicians or personalities you continually find yourself gravitating towards? Or even a personal friend or family member?
Art, literature and music—always. I regularly visit galleries, museums and exhibition spaces, and I live with art in my home and office. I read a lot, and am regularly inspired by the biographies I read, feminist literature, poetry, even fiction. I’m a super nerd and make notations in everything I’m reading. I have some great new work ideas from what I’m reading right now (Bill Cunningham’s memoir, Fashion Climbing). It’s so inspiring! I love anyone with a unique and sincere personal vision.
Forty Five Ten is clearly not your grandma’s department store. Instead it’s looking to the future and blending fashion, art and experiential. What are you most excited about when you think of the future of fashion?
Thank you. You get it! I’m trying to create the must-see shopping for the next generation. As we see more and more images daily, we expect more. I hold myself to a high standard to create an exceptional experience and curation. To get a shopper off of mobile or a computer and to walk into a store, we want to deliver and offer a real experience. Seeing beautiful and unexpected things, having great service with real human beings, getting to feel our fabrics and try on our pieces… these are undeniable pleasures and opportunities for our shoppers to expand their horizons and hopefully discover something new. Though we may see new technology and tools come and go, I am confident this kind of connection will always be at the heart of what we do.