PARIS — As Bernard Arnault often says: Luxury takes time.
That’s certainly the case for his Right Bank retail jewel Samaritaine, which is now eyeing an opening in mid-2016, some 11 years after the department store was forced to close because it was deemed a safety hazard.
Yet it’s easy to see why Samaritaine president Jean-Jacques Guiony brims with excitement about the multiuse project, which will also incorporate a luxurious Cheval Blanc hotel.
During a tour of the site on Friday, Guiony showed off the views of the Seine River and Paris monuments future hotel guests will enjoy, and the glass-domed area under one courtyard, which is ringed by an Art Nouveau mural depicting peacocks and an intricate band of ironwork incorporating bunches of grapes.
A century ago, merchants profited from the sun-drenched space to display hats and fine apparel. The next-generation Samaritaine will use it to house restaurants in order to help lure the surging pedestrian traffic on Rue de Rivoli to explore the entire block-long complex.
Guiony, who is also chief financial officer of Samaritaine’s parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, acknowledged that the complex site, an agglomeration of buildings straddling several centuries and architectural styles, presented multiple challenges and encountered numerous administrative snags. RELATED STORY: LVMH Looks to Allay Slowdown Fears >>
When construction work finally begins, likely in mid-2013, the building fronting Rivoli is to be demolished, with Japanese architecture firm SANAA plotting an ultramodern facade of undulating glass that will invite shoppers to traverse through three courtyards and discover some 280,000 square feet of retail space.
Other parts of the building are landmarked, from the Art Deco facade and signs facing the river, to the intricate railings in the Art Nouveau sections, framed by hulking steel beams incorporating delicate curlicues rendered in plaster.
Guiony pointed out that the floors were originally composed of glass bricks to funnel sunshine down to lower levels at a time when artificial lighting was poor. While most will be removed for safety reasons related to fire risks, “it’s a very important element of the building that we will keep to some extent,” he noted.
The project also spans 95 units of affordable housing, a day care center for 60 children, and 215,000 square feet of offices.
At a time of intense one-upmanship for Paris hotels, the future Cheval Blanc promises to dazzle, with most of its 80 rooms and suites offering spectacular views of Paris landmarks. The seventh floor, boasting high ceilings and edged with balconies, is to be dedicated to the hotel restaurants and bars. Architect Edouard François has been contracted to design the hotel.
The Samaritaine department store — a stone’s throw from the Louvre museum — was founded in 1870, with LVMH acquiring a majority stake in 2000. The new project is expected to create some 2,400 jobs.
A new Joan Rivers coffee table book, titled “Joan Rivers Confidential,” gives readers never-before-seen photos and letters of the late comedian throughout her life. “Because of her drive to always be fresh, she kept records of every appearance, every performance, all the jokes that were used on TV, all the clothes that were worn,” said Rivers’ daughter Melissa. Here, Rivers poses at the “Tonight Show” in Tracy Mills in 1985. Read more about the book and see more photos at WWD.com. #wwdeye
After a career at New York hot spots like Narcissa, Dovetail and Nix, @chefjfraser has expanded to the West Village with The Loyal, a modernized take on an American brasserie. “And as I’ve gone through my career I’ve felt some departure from that kind of simple, straightforward [cooking]. This is meant to take on the idea of ‘what if the American brasserie was invented today?’” #wwdeye (📷: @chinseephoto)
@bellahadid and @lilyaldridge at @bulgariofficial’s celebration on Friday night, toasting the brand's new Peter Marino-designed flagship on Fifth Avenue. The two-part event included a cocktail party at the store followed by a dinner at a mystery location — the Met Cloisters. #wwdeye
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews