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Kenzo Opens on Rue de Rivoli

PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s project to transform the once-grimy Rue de Rivoli into a vibrant shopping destination is taking shape.<br><br>The luxury conglomerate this weekend opened a new 6,500-square-foot flagship for...

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PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s project to transform the once-grimy Rue de Rivoli into a vibrant shopping destination is taking shape.

The luxury conglomerate this weekend opened a new 6,500-square-foot flagship for its Kenzo women’s and men’s ready-to-wear brand, located between the central thoroughfare and the Seine River. It occupies one of the buildings LVMH acquired three years ago when it purchased the storied — but tarnished — La Samaritaine department store.

Since the acquisition, LVMH has been busy reinventing the store — and the area surrounding it. Philippe de Beauvoir, the head of LVMH’s tony Bon Marché department store, was brought in to spearhead the effort. The store has already freshened up its merchandise and rejuvenated its image.

As part of the larger project, though, La Samaritaine also wanted to create a shopping and leisure hub around its store.

This month heralds the first major stride in that direction. Two weeks ago, LVMH’s perfumery chain, Sephora, inaugurated a 9,150-square-foot store in another part of the edifice Kenzo occupies. In tandem, Spanish fast-fashion chain Zara opened a 6,000-square-foot shop, also in the building.

Taken together, the three new shops create a mini-mall in an area that has evolved speedily, with flagships coming in from brands like German activewear firm Adidas and French cheap-chic retailer Etam.

Kenzo’s store is among the most ambitious of the new projects. Under construction for almost two years, it is meant to be the impetus for new energy at the house, founded by Kenzo Takada 34 years ago. Industry sources estimate the store will bring in about $11 million in its first year.

The house will likewise within the next month move its headquarters into the building, which boasts a soaring atrium and sophisticated modernist aesthetic.

Apart from its new store and headquarters, the house will welcome two new trendy eateries to the building: Kong, designed by Philippe Starck, and Lo Sushi, designed by Andree Putman. Slated to open Monday, they promise to bring to the neighborhood a dash of chic and after-dark activity it had lacked.

Designed by Milan architectural firm Vudafieri partners, the Kenzo store occupies the prow of the boat-like building, which has a striking demi-rotunda. Although the exterior is classified among the historical landmarks of Paris, the inside was completely redone with modern lines and materials.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The mostly white store is airy and luminous. White-on-white rice-inspired motifs cover many of the walls, which are fitted with steel display units.

Accessories are located on the first floor, which has seven large display windows. The second floor, featuring the Kenzo Paris line, is accessed by a staircase decorated with a large lithograph of a flower, a reference to the house’s Flower fragrance.

Kenzo Jeans and Kenzo Jungle, the two women’s diffusion lines, are on the third floor, with men’s on the fourth. Among the most interesting aspects of the shop are the so-called sensation galleries, which emit exotic fragrances and soft music.

Next month, the store will be completed with a massage and beauty center on the fifth floor. La Bulle Kenzo, as it will be known, will administer beauty treatments with the house’s own products. Meanwhile, another spa, called Cinq Mondes, will open in July and offer traditional Japanese bath and massage.

Kenzo plans to officially inaugurate the unit July 10, during the Paris haute couture runway presentations.

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