PARIS — After a two-phase renovation that endured 14 months, the Balenciaga flagship in Paris last week unveiled the final result: a quirky, intergalactic design conceived by designer Nicolas Ghesquière and French artist Dominique Gonzales-Foerster.

The 1,900-square-foot boutique’s most unusual feature is an underground tunnel — dubbed a "pool passage" by the house. It connects a store bifurcated by an entryway to the apartments above. Balenciaga even commissioned a musician, Christophe Van Huffel, to compose a soundtrack of burbles and gurgles for the brief subterranean journey through an angular, tile-walled hallway.

Shoppers enter the Avenue George V boutique through smoked-glass doors, leading into a store that resembles the set of a "Star Trek" episode, circa 1968.

Many elements — including a volcanic rock cash desk, lacquered white hanging poles and lighting that changes frequently — are similar to the New York flagship, a 5,500-square-foot unit at 542 West 22nd Street that bowed last February.

But the Paris store, with white walls faceted like kryptonite and an opaque ceiling overhead blasting changeable light, has a more high tech feel than the raw concrete, exposed brick and wood beams in the Manhattan space. One half of the two-part store showcases the women’s runway collection and accessories, while the other houses more commercial pieces and men’s wear.

Balenciaga stores are planned for Milan, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo in coming years, with the concept tweaked for each city.

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus