By  on September 19, 2008

PARIS — Parfums Christian Dior has unveiled a spruced-up beauty institute concept in the Plaza Athenée hotel on Avenue Montaigne here.

The 2,900-square-foot space, which was inaugurated Sept. 16, will be a template for more hotel-based institutes in key cities worldwide, according to executives at the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned brand. While rollout plans for the concept are in the very early stages, the firm is eyeing openings in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Milan and Tokyo.

“We want to help more of our clients to associate Dior with skin care, as well as with clothes and fragrances,” said Louis de Saint Michel, director for skin care at the brand. “Placing the institutes in prestige hotels is a great way to do that.”

Dior’s existing institutes — one each in Moscow and Vladivostok in Russia, Warsaw and Saint Martin — are not associated with hotels. Future spaces may be opened with hotels owned by the Dorchester Group, which owns the Plaza Athenée, de Saint Michel said.

The institute at the Plaza Athenée, which was unveiled with a soiree attended by Dior faces Monica Bellucci and Mylène Jampanoï, as well as actress Vahina Giocante, comprises five treatment rooms, including one 280-square-foot VIP space for two people. While de Saint Michel expects the core client base will be women aged over 35, he hopes that a double room will entice mothers and daughters to have treatments together, thus bringing in a new clientele. It also caters to men. The space, which previously housed the hotel’s gymnasium, features a smaller, non-Dior branded fitness area, hammam and sauna.

Interior designer Patrick Ribes, who specializes in spa design for LVMH-owned brands, created an understated aesthetic for the space. Dominant colors are white and Dior’s signature soft gray hue, while lighting is used to subtly highlight the curving roof vaults.

At all times, clients are reminded of Dior’s couture roots and its founder’s long association with the hotel. The institute, which is below ground level, is accessed by a curving staircase reminiscent of those descended by Dior models during the brand’s early fashion shows. The reception area features a vast flat-screen TV showing the house’s latest runway collection, while walls are decorated with photos of Christian Dior sketches and models posing in Dior outfits outside the hotel. (Dior originally opened his boutique on the Avenue Montaigne to be closer to the Plaza Athenée’s international clients, according to Dior lore.)

Discreet display cases showcase the main product lines used at the institute, namely Capture Totale, Capture XP and Hydration, as well as Dior’s uberprestige antiaging line L’Or de Vie.

Prices of treatments range from 150 euros to 490 euros, or $215 to $704 at current exchange. The least expensive, a 45-minute facial dubbed Total Radiance, is meant to give time-pressed clients’ skin an energy boost. The most expensive, meanwhile, consists of a two-hour treatment including microdermabrasion and the application of an entire 50-ml. jar of L’Or de Vie (which retails for 350 euros, or $503).

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