Above Image: Substance and style speak volumes at McMullen. Photo by Maria del Rio.
Cool terrazzo cuts a path through plush carpet. Sculptural furniture punctuates space. And raspberry-colored velvet drapes dressing rooms. “It’s like her fashion aesthetic brought to life spatially,” says interior designer Chloe Redmond Warner of the elegantly edgy environment her firm, Redmond Aldrich Design, created for Sherri McMullen’s womenswear shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland. Activated by pieces from Rachel Comey, Jacquemus, Tibi, and other directional collections from around the globe—particularly those from women- and BIPOC-driven brands—McMullen’s atmosphere reflects its founder’s sartorial sensibility: Bold and poised, refined and iconoclastic, it’s a space in which matters of character and architecture coalesce.
Situated in a neighborhood that is home to several next-generation businesses founded by Black women entrepreneurs, including Brittany Barnes’s beauty salon Goodbody, Ayesha Curry’s Sweet July boutique, and Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen, McMullen’s boutique has helped spur placemaking since relocating there from Piedmont in 2018. McMullen notes on her website that the “brand is focused on female empowerment,” and that it’s “important that I support the work of black designers as a black woman in fashion and a buyer in my position.”
Sherri McMullen in her namesake boutique, where family photos of her mother and aunt grace the walls. Photo by BFA.
Redmond Warner recalls of first seeing the space, “I had become pals with Sherri and helped her with window design occasionally as a fun collaboration. So when she found the property on Broadway, she asked me to look at it with her.” The enormous canvas—a 2,000-square-foot industrial space with a packed-earth floor, huge steel-frame windows, and 25-foot ceilings—was beautiful and raw. The designer shares that McMullen, whose vision is built on her conceptual point of view and international travels, didn’t want to create a typical white-box retail setting. “Sherri envisioned something that felt like a Parisian salon or an old-school department store, where there’s a clear point of view that gives the clothing dimension,” the designer says.
Signature style: McMullen’s vibrant collections pop against Redmond Warner’s chromatic composition. Photo by Maria del Rio. Chloe Redmond Warner. Photo by Liz Daly.
To that end, Redmond Warner imagined a space that would be in dialogue with the collections while not overshadowing them. “Sherri’s an expert at combining color, pattern, texture, and material,” she says, “and we wanted our design to honor that.” The look was inspired by the client’s mastery of artful contrast: The anchor wall, all textured concrete, meets surfaces that are dressed in polished hues of cream and blush. Underfoot, the floors are terrazzo speckled with black, pink, and white, juxtaposed with goldenrod wool carpet. And layered lighting was a key factor in Redmond Warner’s design: Enhancing the ambient and natural illumination are vintage fringe pendants by iconic Scandinavian designer Hans-Agne Jakobsson. “They feel so happy and elevate the rest of the lighting,” says Redmond Warner.
Representation was also a coproducer of the space. “When deciding on color for the mannequins, it dawned on us that we could match Sherri’s skin tone. So I brought the Pantone deck and we matched the shade to her wrist,” says Redmond Warner, who then had vintage mannequins powder-coated in McMullen’s skin tone, and in others slightly lighter and darker.
“Sherri’s clothes are the dynamic element here,” Redmond Warner says. “ We both think fashion should be fun, and that clothing takes on new life when showcased in an exciting setting. There’s certainly a case to be made for giving apparel gallery-like surroundings, but it’s not the most exciting way to shop.”