Dauphinette was founded by Olivia Cheng in 2018. She has used her artistic talents and deep love for nature to create a fashion brand that is sustainable. After opening her flagship West Village store at the heights of the pandemic in 2010, the self-taught designer and artist was offered the chance to open her second brick-and mortar store. The formidable designer talent had only a few hours to create a dream-driven space, a boutique that sells luxury shopping.
On August 21, she officially opened her new store at The Channel Gardens in Rockefeller Center. A lavish launch party was held in celebration. Dauphinette customers and new followers fell in love with Olivia’s ethereal mural. It transformed the space into a spiritual paradise that brought joy and light to the space. While guests enjoyed spiked seltzer from Zuzu and savoured savory pastries, as well as delicious slices of cake and savory pastries, they found floating racks that contained a variety of Dauphinette staples. These included dreamy floral-printed dresses and exquisite chainmail tops with resin-encased flowers. There were also unique outerwear styles with feather trimmings in vibrant colors. Mirrored walls adorned handbags in feathers, chainmail or boots-inspired designs.
We interviewed Olivia Cheng about the design and construction of Dauphinette’s unique store. She also discussed the ways that she infused Dauphinette’s distinctive aesthetic into the store in order to create a luxurious shopping experience for her loyal clientele
Q: How does it feel to have two flagship stores for Dauphinette after you launched the brand in 2018?
This was something you could have hoped for or imagined. It’s surreal that we have opened two stores in the same year. It was something I hoped for, but I couldn’t have predicted the timing. However, it is a testimony to the idea that each brand, company, artist, and career has its own path and that the way that we develop is highly individualistic. There are certain things I hoped we’d accomplish sooner, but they haven’t yet happened. Opening brick-and mortars has allowed me to experience the opposite. It’s a great feeling. Dauphinette was founded with hand-painted vintage outerwear. There is an organic and genuine sense of connection that comes from being back in the art of painting and creating something unique. My business has felt like an internal race over the past few years. I am as much a businesswoman and artist as I am a painter, but painting is slow, intimate and personal. I knew from the moment we signed up for the project at the Rockefeller Center that I wanted to paint the entire space and transport people to a different place. It was something I found really exciting about hand-painting spaces in such a grandiose, cosmopolitan area of New York. It’s almost like pairing an old favorite vintage item with something new and bright. My West Village store is whimsically compact and ephemeral. There are many little spaces to explore. The Greenwich Village is a long-standing home for emerging artists, so it’s very neighborhood-friendly and interactive. I created something to capture the Rockefeller Center’s whimsical, ethereal lightness but feel more pop-like and assertive. Technically, the West Village store was completely blank when we first arrived. There was no floor plan and nothing was provided. The Center was more about repurposing existing pieces, such as the retail fixtures and the copper mirrors, and incorporating them into the Dauphinette universe.
Q: Your Spring/Summer 2022 “Bad Girls Go To Heaven” print (which will be debuting at NYFW) inspired you to create a hand-painted mural. It feels open, airy, vulnerable, and progressive to my eyes.
It is easy to miss the brand and my personal connection with me. However, it feels light and whimsical, yet it comes from something that was heavy and emotional. The process was honestly quite taxing – we were simultaneously trying to plan the store opening, and I am aggressively operationally-involved with my company, so in the days leading up to our opening I would be painting and in meetings or frantically emailing while the paint dried.
Q: How did you create a luxurious shopping experience and boutique while being mindful of the crowd it attracts?
In my case, juxtaposition is very important visually.
Q: What have been the challenges and positives of opening your second retail store?
The biggest challenge in opening this second retail space was the time it took from receiving keys to the day of opening. It was only 10 days. My team and the RC team had a lot of work to do. They had to repaint the store, fix the electric wiring and make some major repairs. I also had to paint the whole store. The original decorations were dim and dark. The walls were grayish-dark navy and the entire window was covered with a large, golden metal panel that blocked any light. Seeing the space in its original state made me eager to let the light in.
Q: What do you hope Dauphinette lovers and new customers will get from the new store’s opening?
I hope that people who visit the store will find something of their own in it. New York can be hard and it’s easy for people to feel disconnected from their home. I hope that the space can be a safe haven for anyone who is in need. The Dauphinette store can be found at The Channel Gardens, Rockefeller Center, 610 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10020. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.