Schadowstrasse might be home to a raft of venerable fashion names, but there’s a cultural tangent to this glossy retail precinct. The name honours the German painter Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow, who directed Düsseldorf’s famed Arts Academy in the early 19th century. Despite its moniker, the street isn’t known for galleries and museums. Instead it boasts some of the most sought-after German and international brands spanning home décor, fashion and jewellery.
The street’s focal point is Schadow Arkaden, a thoroughly modern temple of 21st century retail. It stands proudly, and prominently, on the corner of Schadowstrasse and Blumenstrasse. Its granite façade, which looks most stunning when illuminated at night, smacks of old world elegance, but the massive glass cylinder which appears to float above the entrance gives the building a futuristic flair.
Inside, style enthusiasts meet a maze of elegant sartorial offerings which unfurl over three floors. On each level, four arcades lead to a stunning central atrium where sunlight floods through a glass dome which illuminates the space. For guests who are not yet weighed down with bags from Schadow Arkaden’s 50 or so shops, spiralling staircases offer vantage points from which to admire the busy surroundings.
The atrium buzzes all year round, but it reinvents itself as the calendar changes. On five Sundays a year, including on 10 March, 5 May and 9 September this year, it hosts the most talked-about antiques fair in the region. More than 60 exhibitors display porcelain, silver, glass, jewellery, lamps and furniture dating from 1860 until 1960. Recent items have sold for as little as €20 and as much as €20,000. Unsurprisingly, for a country with such a rich tradition of porcelain production, this emphasis on décor and interior is a unique selling point of this emporium.
Home sweet home
For more contemporary home furnishings, head to DOM Christian Koban, which specialises in quirky, offbeat homeware. Its eclectic range includes playful chairs, decorative piggy banks, detailed Manglam rugs from India, Buddha sculptures for outdoor spaces and edgy sets of drawers that resemble crates. This is German design for the 21st century.
Schadow Arkaden is particularly strong in the area of German fashion and stores here stock labels that don’t always have a presence abroad. Cut and craftsmanship define the clothes at Strenesse. Garments such as an orange crêpe pantsuit and a maroon dress made of viscose jersey make an impact without being too flamboyant. At René Lezard shoppers can make a statement through understatement. Its patchwork dresses, knitwear and gathered blouses are classic but unconventional: the perfect mix for the confident, self-possessed woman. Meanwhile Falke, a family-run hosiery business, trades a sumptuous line of stockings, socks and bodywear available in striking colours including deep lilac, coral and raspberry. Naomi Campbell and Keira Knightley are just two of the brand’s high-profile fans.
Of course, fashion isn’t just about the clothes. The jewellery boutiques in Schadow Arkaden afford plenty of opportunities to add a personal statement to a look. At Cuckoo Moment, as the name might suggest, has built a reputation for eccentric, bold and arresting jewellery. The store specialises in exotic skins and searing colours, as with the stingray leather bracelet in tangerine with rose gold-plated silver ends. Stepping into the Konplott boutique, shoppers have the sense of entering an exquisite jewellery box. The store, which was founded by designer Miranda Konstantinidou, is full of glittering displays and endless mirrors. Her jewellery creations meld opal, glass, alabaster, wood, pebbles and hand-painted stones, while her goal is to ‘ornament every woman in every situation’.
Pampering and personal ‘me’ time is taken care of at Parfümerie Schnitzler. The beauty and perfume lounge is a veritable dressing table of feminine delights; beauty brands such as Guerlain, La Prairie and Crème De La Mer sit alongside fragrance from Dior to Chanel, but its crowning glory is the gleaming Schnitzler Medical Spa, an all-white series of treatment rooms where luxury facials and massages are provided using products from the store’s leading brands. The experience is otherworldly; the buzz and thrust of Schadow Arkaden can’t fail to melt away momentarily.
The connotations of a ‘shopping mall’ might bring with it images of soulless stretches of space and unimaginative stores, but Schadow Arkaden is proving that the experience can be every bit as exclusive and indulgent as a stroll down the most salubrious of shopping streets.