Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Haute Couture Meets Haute Cuisine at the Prada Flagship Grand Opening

July 22, 2008
This Tuesday, Prada celebrated the grand opening of its new San Francisco flagship store at
201 Post Street, with a spectacular gala event catered by none other than award-winning Chef Thomas Keller of
French Laundry & Per Se acclaim.
The Italian luxury fashion house that is Prada had been planning to open a flagship store or Epicenter as they like to call it, in the City by the Bay for well over 10 years now. And according to Joanne Ramey of Women’s Wear Daily, the original plan was to open a 10-story steel-sheathed Prada Epicenter which was to be designed by the influential Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas (designer of the Los Angeles Prada Epicenter) across the street from what is now the new flagship space. This was to rival the ones in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo, but over the course of the decade, this plan fell through for various reasons, strategic and economic. The current Post Street space housing the new flagship was acquired 6 years prior to its opening and was left uninhabited in spite of the high rent market of San Francisco to allow for flexibility for the opening. This location on the corner of Grant Avenue and Post Street is extremely ideal considering it is in the midst of other luxury high fashion houses such as Armani, Dior and Versace.

And so this brings us back to the much anticipated day of the opening. The event began promptly at 6pm with a crowd of people – city elite, fashion divas and gastronomes alike, standing in line outside of the building within a black velvet-roped, black carpeted sidewalk that was even flanked by a line of men dressed in all black standing guard side-by-side on the corner of Post & Grant. It was quite a spectacle as you can imagine, with droves of tourists, business folk and city dwellers passing by and wondering what the commotion was all about.

Upon entering the store from the Grant Street entrance, one walks onto pristine white carpet flanked by black and white marble flooring, and is struck by the sophisticated interiors. It is meant to be a modern take on the original store in Milan which opened back in 1913. The walls are swathed in signature Prada pale green linen providing a perfect backdrop to showcase the gleaming black & mirrored wall casings and oversized steamer trunks displaying the glamorous Prada collection of handbags, shoes, accessories and clothing.

Alison Speer and her steadfast PR team are at the entrance greeting guests, as the flashes of photographers and the hip sounds of DJ Jeffrey Tonneson from Brooklyn, New York pervades the room. Walking around, the store is teeming with smartly clad servers laying in wait with silver trays of white wine & champagne (note: no red wine, although there was a rose) and white serving dishes of savory hors d’oeuvres prepared by chefs from Thomas Keller’s entourage. These delicious gems ran the gamut from Keller’s signature salmon cornets to delectable cheese-filled gougeres (cheese puffs), mini spoonfuls of caviar and rich, creamy foie gras mousse. The menu also included Liberty Farms smoked duck poised atop gleaming silver forks as well as miniature summer heirloom tomato salads served in little ceramic spoons. One worth mentioning, and indicative of Keller’s whimsical take on food, was TK’s take on the classic ‘BLT’ which was prepared with Korobuta pork, pureed garden lettuce and black truffle. If food could be considered ‘haute’, Thomas Keller is the one to pull it off.

Prada’s new flagship is in a prime location that lies amongst fellow couture houses in the heart of San Francisco’s fashion hub - Union Square. The building in itself is stylish and unique with ten lofty storefront windows along a shiny black exterior and three entrances on Grant Avenue, Post Street and Maiden Lane – a veritable showcase for Prada designs. This Prada fashion house is their 11th US location and is sure to put San Francisco even more so on the map in the world of luxury high fashion.

The event proved to be an extravaganza where couture and cuisine collided, with San Francisco’s fashion-clad elite showing up by the masses, including the likes of former Mayor Willie Brown and current Mayor Gavin Newsome, to see and be seen. It was quite the spectacular affair with very chic people intermingling and eating very chic fare.

To see the original article I wrote on SFBayStyle click here.

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