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With the festive season in full swing, designers are branching into accessories, while new stores — from mega-flagships to small, off-beat boutiques — are offering gifts for any season.
Montblanc, the high-end writing instruments and accessories firm, has built a suitably grand Paris flagship for the Champs Elysées boulevard.
The minimalist 2,000-square-foot unit, featuring dark wood and steel accents, is the firm’s largest to date. Designed by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the concept will eventually be rolled out to Montblanc’s 199 other boutiques around the world.
“Paris is the capital of culture and fashion and the Champs Elysées is one of the pre-eminent shopping streets in the world,” said Norbert Platt, Montblanc president and chief executive. “That’s why we picked Paris, and this shop in particular, to unveil our new concept.”
The division of Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG marked the occasion by asking six contemporary artists, including Sylvie Fleury, Gary Hume and David LaChapelle, to create 10-foot-tall shopping bags-cum-sculptures. They will be exhibited outside the store through the end of the year. For sale at the flagship is a small selection of vintage writing accessories, such as inkwells dating from the 19th century.
“It’s an image enhancement tool,” Platt said. “Today’s shoppers are global customers. We’re exploring ways to make all of our shops special in some way.” Platt also noted that a collection of accessories, inspired by the tri-color French flag, was created exclusively for the new shop.
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the Paris designer known for his Pop Art aesthetic, has launched a line of pearl jewelry as part of his continued push to expand his business. The 70-piece collection bowed in October in Europe, with a U.S. introduction planned for next year.
“There’s something about pearls that is so natural and true,” he said.
The line varies widely, from exclusive gold and pearl necklaces to trendier ribbon and pearl bracelets. Retail prices range from about $12 to $6,600, and projected first-year sales are projected at $800,000. Meanwhile, Castelbajac moved his headquarters across the Seine River to the Right Bank, on Rue Vauvilliers. Sometime next year, he plans to open a shop with a tearoom in the space, which will boast an industrial look.
Eight years after the launch of her jewelry collection in Paris, Swedish designer Viveka Bergstrom has followed up with a small boutique at 23 Rue de la Grange Aux Belles in the trendy Canal Saint Martin neighborhood.
Decor elements include a chandelier and a kitchen-cupboard display cabinet. Besides her own streamlined designs, made primarily with metal and leather with occasional rhinestone accents, Bergstrom also plans to showcase other accessories designers each season.
On the current roster is Belgian brand Bouduin, which specializes in bags created from used luxury leathers and fabrics, and romantic designs by French designers Eric & Lydie.
CHILD AT HEART
Whimsical and adolescent elements are inspiring two emerging Paris-based accessories designers. Stephanie Giribone of Les Bijoux de Stephanie started out designing bracelets with a cord tie, a style traditionally given to children and worn until the tie wears through and the bracelet falls off. She recently added earrings, rings and necklaces, most with North African touches, wholesaling from $25 to $60.
Lise Ferreira, who designs for Lyie Van Rycke, also explores the children’s bracelet theme, and teenage elements such as stars and lightening bolts pop up frequently, too. Her designs wholesale from $23 to $107.