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Opposites Attract

Belgian menswear brand Les Hommes’ Milan flagship reflects its creators’ contrasting approaches to beauty and fashion

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Dynamic fashion design duo Tom Notte and Bart Vandebosch, the gents behind the menswear label Les Hommes (Antwerp, Belgium), know that two heads are indeed better than one. And it’s their two heads — which offer very different viewpoints on beauty — that have helped shape their luxe line of men’s clothing and accessories. “The DNA of Les Hommes is described as ‘contemporary elegance,’ ” says designer and co-owner Notte. “And it’s a result of the unification of our opposites.”

This concept of combining the designers’ differing views and personalities was the driving force behind the architectural footprint for Les Hommes’ second location, a 968-square-foot boutique in Milan’s recently revamped Porta Nuova district. (The first store is located in Antwerp.)

Milan-based architecture firm Piuarch worked with Notte and Vandebosch to translate those colliding perspectives into an atmosphere that would reflect the brand’s ethos. “Les Hommes is a very sophisticated brand that combines elegant lines with rough details,” says Francesco Fresa, partner, Piuarch. “We contrasted between raw and refined … you can see it where the marble meets the concrete on the floor, or the [champagne-colored mirrors] meet steel.”  

The store’s palette is decidedly monochromatic, minimal and even moody — a splash of gray here, a shot of high-gloss black there — with mirrored accents on walls, fixtures and shelving that draws the eye in. (A large storefront window measuring 21 feet  provides passersby substantial peeks inside.) “The goal is that [shoppers] experience a modernist feeling and a sense of luxury, but always keep [their] focus on the collection,” Notte says.

Upon entering, guests are enticed to venture farther into the store via an L-shaped tunnel crafted floor-to-ceiling out of port-black marble: a dark, refined stone that’s striated with white and laid out in herringbone (on the floor) and in diamond-cut patterns (on the wall) to add geometric dimension. “The marble wall has been used almost like a piece of origami,” says Piuarch’s  Fresa. “It creates a contrast at first sight, but the end goal is one of harmony and elegance.”

The marble flows directly into the aggregate concrete floor that’s used throughout the sales area, which seamlessly displays Les Hommes’ two clothing lines: its main men’s collection and the Urban collection aimed at younger clientele.

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More contrasting materials exist in the concrete ceiling, including exposed, galvanized steel beams, which play off the warm champagne-colored glass throughout the space. Fresa says, “[The designers’] complementary philosophies are the source of Les Hommes: a collision of contrasting ideas and opinions.”

PROJECT SUPPLIERS
Retailer
Les Hommes, Milan

Design and Architecture
Tom Notte, Bart Vandebosh, Antwerp, Belgium
Piuarch, Milan: Francesco Fresa, Germán Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini, Monica Tricario

Structural Design
FV Progetti S.r.l., Milan

General Contractor
Impresa Gotti S.r.l., Milan

Audio/Visual
NI.PE. Consulting S.r.l., Milan
PRASE Engineering SpA, Noventa di Piave (VE), Italy

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Fixtures
ESA Engineering S.r.l., Sesto F.no (FI), Italy
IT Progetti Tecnici, Italy

Flooring
Marmi Due Ci S.r.l., Rivoli (VR), Italy|
BRB, Milan

Lighting Design
.PSALB, Beirut, Lebanon

Furniture
Battaglia S.r.l. Misinto (MB) Italy

Mannequins/Forms
Bonaveri, Renazzo di Cento (Ferrara) Italy

Props and Decoratives, Materials/Wallcoverings
Piuarch, Milan

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Photography: Andrea Martiradonna, Milan

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