New opening: Gentle Monster, London

We took a look for ourselves and discovered tiny aliens with an obsession for kung fu. This is the inspiration behind the installations at the new 2-floor Gentle Monster store in London, a space that is more straightforward in its conceptual presentation than sister stores in the US or Korea, where part of the fun is the architectural excellence of the spaces and unexpected surprises encountered as you literally “journey” through the stores.

In London, the experience is more about the installations themselves: they include a huge kinetic apparatus with a gong that sounds every three minutes, a Kung Fu “training field” and “battle ground” for the aliens and a waterfall video installation by artist Ryoici Kurokawa, referencing the places where an aspiring Kung Fu master would typically train and meditate.

Alien ‘Training Field’ and shop floor: Gentle Monster / London

And then there are the glasses and sunglasses: not so much at centre stage, and displayed in typical Gentle Monster style, in amongst the installations, usually on minimal, open shelves, but always designed to invite us to pick up and try them on as much as possible, the experience of which is positively encouraged at Gentle Monster.

The eyewear and sunglass designs available here offer a mix of wearable and very flamboyant metal and plastic shapes, colours and forms, and are priced – unexpectedly – at more moderate prices than we had imagined (some just under £200 – all made in China or Korea). Highlights include very classic plastic sun styles in easy colours – the collab with Tilda Swinton was a memorably classy one – and a few outlandish sci-fi pieces with metal details such as the capsule, Once Upon a Future. Much more is promised, with London Fashion Week being the immediate focus for September and, as in other GM shops, a changing and evolving theme, a part of the DNA of the label, will ensure nothing stays the same for too long.

Alien ‘Battle Ground’: Gentle Monster / London

The new store is located at 28 & 29 Argyll Street London, just near Liberty’s in Central London. The opening in the UK follows a second store in LA and a new pop up in NYC at DSM and Selfridges on Oxford St., London. Gentle Monster was founded in 2011 by Hankook Kim. www.gentlemonster.com CN