NEW YORK — John Galliano’s vivid imagination demands perfection, so it should come as no surprise that creating the right backdrop to showcase his wares for Christian Dior took more than one try at the company’s flagship...
NEW YORK — John Galliano’s vivid imagination demands perfection, so it should come as no surprise that creating the right backdrop to showcase his wares for Christian Dior took more than one try at the company’s flagship here.
What began as a “facelift” of the 6,000-square-foot women’s store at 21 East 57th Street has morphed instead into an entire redesign, which will be unveiled today.
“The old store was very modern, but what was missing was the soul of what Dior is,” said Marla Sabo, president and chief operating officer of Christian Dior Couture for the U.S. “It was pretty and functional and met our needs at that time. But, as the house evolved since the store opened in December of ’99, so did our needs.”
While Sabo declined to give a forecast for first-year store sales, she did say “the store has been trending very strongly and the company picked up 42 percent last year, which was comparable growth in the U.S. This year we’re trending in the 20s again and the New York store is very much a part of that trend.”
In a bid to create an environ that mixes modernity and warmth along with the vestiges of Dior’s signature touches, the company combined white lacquer walls, cream-colored limestone floors, textured dove gray rugs in animal prints and polished nickel fixtures. Yet it was careful to redesign antique looks to give them a modern feel with updated Louis XVI chairs and love seats, as well as plaster friezes copied from the house’s Avenue Montaigne store. Also, the space’s color palette was taken from the Paris store.
“It’s the perfect balance of being true to our heritage, but also being a successful retailer and showing our product off to its best advantage,” said Sabo.
Yet the aesthetic of the space alone wasn’t the company’s only impetus for undergoing a redesign. The burgeoning shoe collection was one of the catalysts for it, as the original space wasn’t equipped to handle such an expanded selection. Last year, the shoe business increased sixfold over the previous year, according to Sabo, and this season it expects that increase to double.Bestsellers include bags from the following collections: Hardcore, Street Chic, Lady Dior and the requisite single saddle. Signature Dior looks for fall are merchandised throughout the store, like the Saddle bag purses, crocodile “Street Chic” bags, printed platform mules and stilettos with tiny padlocks.
The ground floor is laid out to house a full range of accessories, such as handbags, shoes and sunglasses. A fine jewelry alcove featuring elaborate designs by Victoire de Castellane is in the back of the store. The nook is replete with sliding glass doors for customer privacy.
Noting customer traffic issues to the second floor in the past, Sabo was intent on creating an interesting and inviting component to the space. So a modern, floating staircase was built, along with a floor-to-ceiling sunglass unit and a two-story liquid crystal display.
The fine jewelry store, which was located next door at 17 East 57th Street, was folded into the women’s shop, while a Dior men’s store will open in the former space this fall. An internal stairway will connect both stores. The women’s ready-to-wear collections, including wedding dresses, lingerie, swimwear and cosmetics, are on the second floor. Galliano’s Asian-inspired print dresses in silk organza create a mélange of Pop-inspired color on the floor.
The company is set to open additional Christian Dior stores in the U.S. A Palm Beach store, as well as an expansion of its Bal Harbour shop, will open in October. A Las Vegas boutique in the Bellagio Hotel is scheduled to open in mid-November, while locations in Honolulu and St. Barth’s are slated for December. A boutique at the Americana Manhasset opened last month, as well.
Retail prices range from $550 to $3,000 for handbags; $350 to $450 for shoes; $750 to $950 for boots; $3,000 to $6,000 for evening gowns; $550 to $1,500 for tops; $500 to $1,600 for skirts, and $600 to $2,000 for trousers.
The bulk of Dior’s business is retail based, at 75 percent, while the remaining 25 percent is wholesale. The label is sold at major retailers in the U.S., like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
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