By  on August 7, 2008

PARIS – With a high-powered retail neighbor – Louis Vuitton’s largest store in the world – Kenzo has opened its largest Paris unit on the Avenue George V here.

The two-level corner unit, spread over 5,400 square feet, opened for business Wednesday afternoon and is designed to “create intimacy in a big space,” James Greenfield, Kenzo’s senior vice president, said during a walk-through.

With accessories fixtures resembling retro coffee tables, fitting rooms equipped with piped-in bird chirps and lots of kimono-print lounge-style seating, the store has a cozy, home-like atmosphere, peppered with lots of Antonio Marras touches.

Kenzo’s artistic director since 2003, Marras, in concert with the Milanese architects Beltrame-Gelmetti Associates, has created a retail vocabulary for Kenzo that includes clothing racks inspired by fish spines and stucco flowers blooming out of walls.

Some 53 new or renovated points of sale are slated to get the new black-and-white design concept this year, said Greenfield, who recently assumed operational management of the fashion house, part of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. A flagship unit in Dehli is slated to open in October, he noted.

The George V flagship, one of six Paris Kenzo locations, puts women’s wear at the forefront, with an accent on luxurious accessories and runway looks. Children’s wear also gets a special showcase, demarcated by an antique toy car.

George V - already home to a plethora of high-fashion boutiques including Balenciaga, Givenchy, Armani Collezioni, Hermes and Jean Paul Gaultier – is on a retail upswing, with Sonia Rykiel recently arrived and Bulgari coming soon. The luxury hotel Fouquet’s Barriere, which opened last year, is also funneling more upscale clients to the Champs Elysee end of the street, anchored by Vuitton.

The Kenzo store boasts the brand’s first VIP suite to accommodate high-profile clients. Greenfield noted that some 46 percent of Kenzo’s customers at a previous location on George V were tourists, a number apt to increase.

Men’s wear and men’s accessories, showcased on the lower level, include exceptional and exclusive pieces to cater to an upscale clientele. “Candy Box” handbags are among women’s products exclusive to the unit.

Market sources estimate the Kenzo boutique should generate annual revenues of about 10 million euros, or $15.4 million at current exchange.
Meanwhile, workmen are putting the finishing touches on Kenzo’s new headquarters in a 17th century mansion on the Rue Vivienne, just steps away for Kenzo Takada’s first boutique that opened in the Galeries Vivienne in 1970.

Boasting high ceilings and two courtyards, it will house showrooms, design studios, ateliers, press and administration when it opens in September.

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