PARIS — Austrian-born Helmut Lang says he’s always considered Paris his “fashion birthplace.”
Now he finally has a home base in the French capital. Tonight Lang will fete his new 3,440-square-foot flagship at 219 Rue Saint-Honoré, which will be wrapped in a Jenny Holzer projection especially for the occasion. The two-level unit, Lang’s sixth location worldwide, opens to the public on Friday.
“We’re so happy it’s finally happened. It seemed odd not to have a store in Paris,” Lang said in between fittings for his spring show today. “For the clients, it’s great, because they can see the entire body of work.”
Lang, who started showing his collections in Paris in 1986, has a loyal following here and a broad customer base. Two specialty retailers in the neighborhood, Colette and Maria Luisa, plan to continue carrying the brand, and Printemps, Le Bon Marche and Kabuki all showcase broad selections of his women’s and men’s collections.
Still, Lang said, “It’s always great to have your own store. We carry everything we show on the runway and lots of other stuff.”
Shoppers enter the store through a sliding glass door and immediately encounter its dominant feature: twin black monoliths that stand two stories high, flanking a concrete staircase. Lang’s women’s collection is housed in the hollowed sides of the monolith. Upstairs, eveningwear, men’s wear and accessories are the focus. Shoes and bags are displayed on a 53-foot lacquered shelf or on black rubber ottomans, some clustered into a lounge area.
Designed by Lang with architectural supervision by Gluckman Mayner Architects, the store has the minimalist, gallery-like ambiance of other of the designer’s stores, but the designer said each also has a “slightly local touch.” Lang said the dimension of the Rue Saint-Honoré boutique, especially the more intimate second floor, and the light that streams in through the double-height windows subtly say “Paris,” as do special Jean Prouve objects: industrial-looking steel screens, light fixtures and doors.
Art works also provide an individual touch. The Paris store features a permanent LED installation by Holzer, which is set into the handrail on the staircase, and rotating artworks by Louise Bourgeois. Her initial piece, titled “Spiral Woman,” will remain for about three weeks, but generally Bourgeois works will rotate every few months.Lang officials declined to give sales projections, but sources estimate the store is likely to pull in about $5.2 million in the first year.
The Paris store is Lang’s sixth location worldwide, after Vienna, Munich, Milan and New York, where there are two separate clothing and perfume units. Lang said Prada Group plans to open new Lang boutiques in London and Los Angeles in 2004.
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