If Georgia O’Keeffe had opened a concept store in Tokyo, it might have looked something like the space Tiina Laakkonen has created – not in the Japanese capital, but in Amagansett on the South Fork of The Hamptons. Austerely chic, informed by beauty, function and craft, Laakkonen’s recently expanded eponymous shop is the culmination of a dazzling fashion career – from working in the design studio at Chanel to styling at Vogue and modelling for Alexander McQueen. She now sells pieces by some of the world’s most exclusive fashion designers – many of whom she has personal links with.
“I approach it in the same way as being a stylist,” says Finnish-born Laakkonen. “It is telling the story of my life. It’s also bridging the gap between New York City and the countryside.”
While most shops in The Hamptons are retro and rustic, Tiina the Store – which first opened in 2012 – is one of the most modern in the US, housed since last year in a purpose-built space. “I wanted the new building to look less country-cosy, more about space and light.” The result is akin to a gallery, with meticulously crafted garments hanging like artworks around the rear walls. The front of the store, meanwhile, is dominated by paint-dripped wooden cubes and counters created by London-based designer and friend Faye Toogood, whose rigid-denim jeans ($1,120), cut into classic trouser shapes, fill a rack near the front door.
Denim hits upon a visual theme that is continued with a selection of cobalt-blue Yali vases ($580-$1,850), summery pale-blue stripes (Sofie D’Hoore’s loose-fitting cotton-poplin Dada Dress Royal, $630), and traditional Japanese indigo shibori cashmere cardigans ($1,070) and shawls ($940) by Suzusan. Like a bolt of Yves Klein blue, these pieces enhance the otherwise black and white space and a mostly monochrome offering – including elongated white men’s shirts ($500) by Casey Casey and white women’s blouses ($2,040) by Ecole de Curiosités, which pair gloriously soft cotton and silk gauze with meticulous hand-embroidered smocking.
“These are extraordinarily detailed pieces; you can turn them inside out and they look just as beautiful,” says Laakkonen, who has access to garments few others do. These include the rarefied designs of Tokyo label Arts & Science, whose summer shirtdresses ($1,130) resemble north African djellabas. “Often these pieces don’t reach the shop floor, as our loyal customers ask to see a preview of what we have ordered and buy immediately,” she says.
Laakkonen’s Nordic roots are also represented, its “beautiful design for daily life” present in everything from prosaic plastic rugs ($155-$320) by Brita Sweden to Tapio Wirkkala’s 1960s Ultima Thule tableware ($60-$165) for Iittala and Aarikka’s cool Nuppu vases (from $90). It adds up to a very personal collection of objects whose rarity is as exceptional as their beauty.