Building Boutiques: An Interview with Anthony Faglione

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anthony faglione

Today I have a special treat for you! Recently, I had a chance to interview Anthony Faglione, a master builder who’s behind several Fashion Week runway stages (think major brands like Ralph Lauren and Helmut Lang), as well as plenty of retail stores for designers including Reiss, DKNY, BCBG, and more. He’s pretty well known in the industry — in fact, he just completed offices for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (or CFDA), and his home was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal!

I’ve never really given much thought to the amount of work that it takes to make a retail store feel truly unique and on-brand, but if you think about it, it’s a job that’s vital. After all, when a store is well-built and just looks good, how can you NOT want to go in and browse?

Below, I learned a little bit more about what it means to be a master builder, and how Anthony helps bring a brand’s retail vision to life. It’s pretty incredible!

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Tell us a little bit about what it means to be a master builder? What does your job entail, and what’s the scope of your work like on any given project?

To be master builder is to have an understanding and sensitivity to the designer’s concept, and the goal in which the designer is looking to achieve. I must also understand the elements required to build the job, all the details of the job, and put the details together in such a way as to manage a budget, schedule, and still be able to reach the goal that the designer looking for.

The scope of what I do is taking the concept, understanding it, understanding all details, orchestrating between the architects drawing and the documents required for the builder, and coordinating all that—especially the concept—with the contractors, sub contractors and fabricators.

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How did you become interested in designing for retail specifically? What drew you to this over other types of commercial projects, or even residential projects?

I have to be clear that I’m a builder not a designer. My interest to build for fashion brands is rooted in the fact that designers are constantly pushing the concept in design, working with new materials and old materials, and sometimes bringing the old and new together. I thrive off creating a finished, quality product that everyone can be proud of.

Retail construction is very intense. Time is very important and it plays a key role in each project. This is a market and area that not everyone can reach expectations in. Therefore, the players in this area are limited to those who have the ability to understand and to meet those demanding and aggressive requirements and standards.

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Can you take us through the process of translating a brand into a physical store? How do you work with a retailer to make sure their space feels like “them”?

First I am presented with a designer’s concept and I get a real good understanding of the concept by going through q and a with the designer. Then I use my experience to guide them, allowing them to make decisions that will achieve the highest-level product as an end result.

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What’s been your favorite project to work on thus far, and why?

I really enjoyed working on the Reiss store in L.A., because they do some really interesting stuff and are challenging in their details and in their concept. For their L.A. storefront—which is all glass—we built a muted image that is sandwiched between two pieces of glass so it resembles the shade of a tree reflecting onto the façade of the building. There’s a shadow of all the leaves on the glass.

On the inside of the store, we installed thousands of chains hanging from the ceiling to resemble the London rain. It’s designers and brands like this that make my job challenging and fun at the same time.

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Are there any trends you’ve noticed happening in your industry? How do you think bloggers and online media have influenced retailers?

Being eco-friendly has become even more important. Designers are working with different materials such as LED lighting to meet energy conservation standards. Some designers have started working with reclaimed material, or sustainable material to be environmentally conscious.

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How can the regular gal get a chic, glamorous, boutique feeling in her own closet design at home — especially if on a budget and with limited space?

I think that when you have limited space, you have to be realistic about the amount of stuff in your closet. Create a “no†pile, a “yes†pile, and a “maybe†pile that should all be put into the “no†pile. From there, you must have a neat place for everything, whether it be on a hanger or organized on a shelf. Keeping the closet clean, fresh, and non-cluttered, really is key. A closet should be set up as outfits would be put together—jeans in one place, separated by color, shirts in one place, also organized by color, etc. That way when you picking an outfit, it’s easy to say “OK I want dark pants and light shirt,†and you know exactly where to pull from—just like you would in a retail store.

Favorites:

Restaurant?
My kitchen. I love to cook.

Magazine?
I don’t have a favorite magazine but in my free time I like to browse through both design and fashion books. It is important that I keep up on trends in my field.

Fashion designer/label?
John Varvatos because he’s hip and cool, with a bit of class and style.

Architect and/or interior designer?
The Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, because during a time when architecture was all about lines and being linear, he was creating free form shapes that were aesthetically appealing, but also very different from the norm.

I would also have to say Leonardo da Vinci, because he was the first man to figure out how to build a duomo, and he was the first true master artist and builder.

Place you’ve ever traveled, and why?
Italy and France, hands down. The Italians and the French truly have a passion and eye for art and architecture. From the eye of someone who knows nothing of construction, it would appear that the Duomo in Florence or the Duomo in Milan would be impossible to build, but for me, I just see inspiration and new ideas.

{Image Credits: Team CIS Portfolio}

7 comments

  1. Emily said: replied:

    Thanks for this feature! I found it so incredibly interesting, and love his tips for organizing a closet!

    10 Apr 2013 | Reply
  2. FripperyVintage said: replied:

    Very interesting. BCBG shops are always so awesome.

    10 Apr 2013 | Reply
  3. rita said: replied:

    such an interesting feature – so much goes into a store that we never think about!

    10 Apr 2013 | Reply
  4. Eleanor said: replied:

    This was fascinating! I’m an interior designer (who used to be a fashion designer), so I’m particularly interested in retail spaces, how they embody a particular brand, affect our shopping experience, etc. Loved it!

    11 Apr 2013 | Reply
  5. Liz {What Dress Code?} said: replied:

    This is such an interesting feature, I love that you take the time to look at some of the more background stuff that goes into the industry and really flesh it out into a full feature!

    11 Apr 2013 | Reply
  6. [...] this interview with Anthony Faglione on creating retail [...]

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