Guest article by Maria Passarivaki
SONG is a concept-store that has stretched (with its output) Vienna’s creative spectrum. A short walk away from the landmark Sofitel Vienna, SONG offers you both an intimate space for shopping and the opportunity to indulge in various art festivities. The store is the brainchild of Myung il Song from South Korea, who moved to Austria 20 years ago. SONG moved to the 'Golden' Praterstrasse in 2006 after eight years in Vienna's first district. Every since, it has made its mark using the most fashion-forward ideas most recently expanding also into a contemporary art gallery hosting exhibitions and performances. Pushing fashion’s boundaries, with its avant-garde clothing collections presented in a quality atmosphere, SONG completely transforms the common retail experience.
Myung, a graduate artist, has always been flirting with fashion and art. Due to the aspiration of allowing her inspirations to mingle and match, instead of opening a gallery, she decided to open a fashion boutique. She quickly established her creative credentials by bringing together edgy fashion designers and emerging artists. Initially, she picked up the three designers that she liked to wear the most; hence the collection grew over the course of time. However, as she was contacted by so many young artists, who wanted to showcase their work through her store, she ultimately made space for a gallery too.
The store is a dialogue between clothing collections, which are the principal motif of the store, and the functioning element of the space. The prominent architect Gregor Eichinger was able to interpret Myung il Song’s radical ideas and to merge her aesthetical needs to the functionality of a boutique of 500 sq.m. Thus, a sophisticated store that would allow the visitors to dip into a designer’s mind, was ultimately created. Intriguing yet unpretentious, by blowing out fashion and art altogether, SONG has created a warm and friendly environment where you can buy and socialise all at once.
Exclusive designer furniture pieces, such as the Dutch designer’s Piet Hein Eek scrap wood chairs and vintage lamps from the 30’s, and also furniture from local artists, become the visitor’s first view and purchase spree. With the pre war industrial French furnishings, that bear the characteristics of metallic fixtures and wooden racks found on its non-refurbished ‘cold‘ walls and concrete flooring, the store gets more comfy. And together with the lightning, it obtains a more hospitable tone. A series of art works by Erwin Wurm, Marina Faust, Jonathan Monk, and others are projected aggressively out from the shop’s walls. Aside from these, SONG focuses on providing a consistent and carefully selected array of services to its clients: such as its private Salon for VIP clients. The Salon’s interior comprises striking design elements that range from tables designed by Vienna-based artists Franz West and Franz Graf, to wallpaper by Vienna-based artist Annelies Oberdanner, and paintings by Belgian dress designer Dirk van Seine. Alongside them a large vintage chandelier built in Austria back in the 20’s illuminates the Salon with refracted light allowing the customers to manoeuvre a better look at what is on display.
Of course, the space is dominated by the displayed collections from names like Dries van Noten, Christopher Kane, AF Vandevorst, Marc le Bihan, just to name some, while accessories and collections by smaller firms are likewise for sale (eg. Stephen Jones hats etc). The remaining 70 sq. m. comprises a menswear shopping space. Since its opening, SONG has stood as a platform of support for artisan and groundbreaking fashion as well as emerging artistic talents. The shop has managed to embrace two aspects - a fashion retail concept and an in store art gallery under the curation of SONG. Upon entering the shop, visitors can directly access the gallery space, while surpassing the studio space, where clothes are manufactured or artists set up their exhibitions or prepare for their performances. And therefore, the same visitors subtly accept a new era of retail engagement.
To ‘sing‘ further admiration, Yatzer believes SONG is a one-stop-shop for clothing, art, and more, which is discreetly becoming a heavy influence on its conceptualization for similar fashion stores. Elegantly at ease with a minimalist aesthetic, it is now confidently predicted to become a paramour on Vienna’s experimental fashion scene.