SHANGHAI — Swatch Group has just opened four flagships for its various timepiece brands in the lower part of a historic building here as part of a complex that will come to house a hotel and ateliers for artists in the coming months.
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel makes its home in the refurbished 1908 Palace Hotel. Located on the corner of Nanjing Road and Zhongshan Road, the historical Bund waterfront, the development is the latest addition to the growing lineup of luxury hotels and emporiums on the street. It also is the most recent example of brand-building statements occurring in this city to coincide with the World Expo. Earlier this month, Dior staged a massive fashion show on the Bund and a bevy of labels from Louis Vuitton to Uniqlo have opened new stores here.
The flagships for Swatch, Blancpain, Breguet, and Omega opened Wednesday on the ground floor of the building. The rest of the complex, including the hotel, is set to open in August. The project is a joint venture with Jin Jiang Group, China’s largest hotel management company. The facade of the old building has been restored with the original Art Deco elements kept in place.
“We’ve invested $100 million into this hotel,” said Nick Hayek, Swatch Group’s chief executive officer. “We have fantastic brands, creative artists and normal people who can come and stay here.”
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel mixes retail, art and hospitality under one roof. The ground floor houses the Swatch brand stores. The building will feature an art exhibition space, 18 separate ateliers on the third floor for visiting artists and a boutique hotel with seven different-themed luxury suites costing $6,000 a night. A restaurant will be on the top floor.
“This building is the most emotional building on the Bund. It has a soul,” Hayek said. “This was the first hotel in China; the first place where the Opium Commission met. The Swatch Art Peace Hotel will be a messenger of the past but also a vision on the future.”
Arlette-Elsa Emch, Swatch’s president, said the Swatch retail space is the largest in the world. “This store is a flagship store in the scale of New York City and Paris’ Champs-Elysées.” With 7,000 square feet of retail space, the Swatch store features Chinese motifs like the white dragon scales that are used to display the watches.
For Omega, the Shanghai boutique is the brand’s 11th store in China. According to Omega’s president, Stephen Urquhart, the Omega Shanghai flagship “will easily overtake” the sales from the brand’s top-selling location in the county, the Beijing Oriental Plaza. He said Omega’s sales in China grew 15 percent last year and he is optimistic about future prospects for growth.
“We believe strongly in the future of this market. If you look at the shoppers even on the streets of Japan, many of the shoppers carrying brand-name bags are Chinese consumers,” Urquhart said.
The only complication might come from the Fairmont Peace Hotel just across Nanjing Road, another historic hotel that is currently under renovation anddue to open shortly. But Hayek brushed off any potential name confusion.
“Fairmont will be in trouble when they open because they will have so many phone calls for people trying to book our hotel,” he said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast