La Dolce Vita

Designer Domenico Vacca closes NYC stores to focus on flagship with private club, rentals

Designer Domenico Vacca
Designer Domenico Vacca

What to call Domenico Vacca’s latest venture? The Italian fashion designer and master tailor, who has dressed celebrities like Jeremy Piven, Daniel Day Lewis and Glenn Close, didn’t just launch a flagship store at his new massive building on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue, which opened officially on May 3rd. He’s bringing together a coffee shop, barbershop, salon, photography studio, private club, rooftop terrace, gym and — to top it off — 30 apartments that can be rented for a minimum of 30 days at prices starting at $12,000 a month.

“The idea was to reinvent fashion retail. I think right now it’s a little bit stale,” Vacca says, perched neatly on one of the custom seats in the back of his new store. The leather chair with white topstitching is meant to resemble the leather interior of a Ferrari. (An article in an Italian newspaper once called Vacca’s brand the “Ferrari of Clothing,” a moniker he likes very much).

He says he believes that the current trend in luxury retailing — a race to open many locations — “dilutes” a brand’s value. He has closed all three of his New York City locations, including his tiny but beloved store in the Sherry Netherland, to concentrate on this flagship and others that he wants to open in London, Dubai and Mexico City. “My point is if you want to buy Domenico Vacca, you should come to New York, you should go to London. It’s an experience.”

“My point is if you want to buy Domenico Vacca, you should come to New York, you should go to London. It’s an experience.”

And that experience is very, very Italian. You’d be hard-pressed to find details of Vacca’s building that are not in some way inspired by his native land, from the Rancilio espresso machine in the store’s café to the hair salon and barbershop, which are both totally staffed by Italians. “My personal barber from the south of Italy is coming for two weeks to do training for my guys,” Vacca says proudly.

This extra attention to even the most minute detail is what Vacca says sets him and his new venture apart. “Luxury for me is to have higher standards in everything you do. You can have something that doesn’t cost that much as long as it’s done very, very well,” he says.

Vacca hopes to provide that for all his members of his private club, the crown jewel of the space. Called the DV Club, it will have an annual membership fee of $20,000 (or a monthly fee of $1,800), which will cover unlimited drinks and bar food for members and three guests.

Only 500 people will be admitted to the club. The club will host live music events, chef tastings on the rooftop, movie screenings and even Vacca’s bi-annual fashion shows. Residents of the rental units will be members of the club during the length of their stay.

“Some people think that New York has everything,” Vacca says, noting that between its strict rules and impersonal staffs, the club scene here leaves a lot to be desired.

The DV Club on the other hand? “It’s going to have a very home-like feeling. It’s like you’re stepping into my house,” he promises. “I want it to look like you’re in a farmhouse in the south of Italy.” A very luxurious farmhouse, that is.