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Paris Reinvents Beauty Retail Scene

PARIS — There’s a renaissance of beauty retailing gathering force here, with an eclectic and directional mix of innovative new store openings.<br><br>Korres, Foucaud and Molton Brown take the spotlight in Galeries Lafayette’s new...

PARIS — There’s a renaissance of beauty retailing gathering force here, with an eclectic and directional mix of innovative new store openings.

Korres, Foucaud and Molton Brown take the spotlight in Galeries Lafayette’s new beauty “laboratory.”

Shiseido La Beauté — a freestanding concept store — bowed last week.

And slated for next month is Parfumerie Generale, a general shop selling niche beauty brands,

“I think it’s really exciting; this market has been so traditional, an opportunity waiting to happen,” said Nancy Flavin, a Paris-based industry consultant. “It is time there’s real exploration.”

In the past, there have been some bursts of energy. Between 1999 and 2000, the likes of Colette, MYXT, Beauty By and Lora Lune set up shop with newfangled retail approaches. But after two years there’s been some attrition, with the shutdown of numerous experiments. And industry players agree beauty buffs are on the lookout for new, inspired beauty concepts.

That’s not to say the industry is at a standstill. Domestic sales of beauty products continue to grow around mid-single digits. But here, as in other countries, players say today’s beauty retailers have increasing difficulties luring and retaining today’s fickle, newness-crazed customer.

“Today, consumers expect more than just product; they expect to get a vision and to share in that,” explained Patrice Civanyan, managing partner at brand consultancy Lewis Moberly. “When you set up an experience around a brand it’s reassuring to the customer. Lifestyle is now a part of brands’ position.

“That doesn’t mean that there’s one lifestyle for everyone to follow or one beauty model; there are a lot of alternative visions of beauty possible,” he continued.

Some new stores here, for instance, are “moving toward personalization,” said Claude Degrese, creative marketing consultant at Paris-based consultancy Fulgurance.

Take 32 Montorgueil, the spa and hair salon opened in May in a former wine warehouse. The massive, 4,305-square-foot space — replete with wooden beams and Asian decor — is highly individualized, catering to just a handful of clients at once. L’Espace Coiffure John Nollet, on the ground floor, can accommodate two people, while another two can be treated in the Nuxe Spa downstairs.

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This is the first spa for Laboratoire Nuxe. “I’ve had a spa in mind for a long time,” said Aliza Jabes, company president. “With the spa we can express the brand through treatment.” The idea she wants to get across, she said, is simple luxury.

Treatments include Soin Aroma-Lacte aux 8 Laits Vegitaux, a 75-minute moisturizing, energizing, “de-stressing” treatment, for $89.20. All figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

While Jabes wouldn’t divulge projections, industry sources estimate 32 Montorgueil could generate about $991,000 in its first 12 months.

Other new Paris beauty retailers include:

Shiseido La Beauté (SLB)

Also on the Right Bank, Shiseido debuted its new concept store, at 3-5 Boulevard Malesherbes, last week. The firm calls SLB a “beauty house in progress.”

“It is meant to communicate Shiseido’s philosophy,” explained a company spokeswoman, who said the emphasis — as in Shiseido’s other concept stores, such as the Shiseido Cosmetic Garden in Tokyo — is not on sales, although Shiseido products are retailed in the store..

The 2,080-square-foot, streamlined space is divided into two main areas. The first is a “cosmetics lounge,” where people can experiment with new makeup products lining mirrored shelves and drawers along a wall. There’s also a recessed area, where service is more hands-on and treatments are offered free of charge on a first-come-first-serve basis. People can book a 90-minute face-and-shoulder massage, followed by a makeup session, for about $79 in the one treatment cabin, as well.

In another part of the store, there is a 670-square-foot “studio,” a cultural space with artistic happenings that will be changed about four times yearly and will focus on artists with a link to beauty. The area is currently dedicated to Shiseido makeup artist Tom Pecheux. Videos running in high tech viewing stations show Pecheux working backstage at fashion shows. A history of his life in words and pictures is on display there, too.

Parfumerie Generale

A veritable general store of niche beauty products, Parfumerie Generale is slated to open shop at 6 Rue Robert Estienne on Aug. 26.

“The principle is to bring together brands that are rarely sold in Paris,” explained Victoire de Taillac, who oversees the product mix culled from the world over.

Parfumerie Generale’s 1,000-square-foot space will sell more than 20 brands, such as Comme des Garçons, Aesop, Erbaviva, Miller Harris and 3 Custom Color Specialist. The store will also carry a selection of men’s products, including Truefitt & Hill and Geo F. Trumper.

The central merchandising unit is on a bright, multicolored rug. There’s also a hidden enclave in the back — a space especially for men with an on-staff barber.

“Beauty must be sold in a special way,” said de Taillac, who runs Parfumerie Generale with partners Ramdane Touhami and Mustapha Bouhayati.

Other projects for Parfumerie General include a catalog, to kick off in September, and more store locations.

In the first 12 months, Parfumerie Generale is expected to ring up about $496,000, according to industry sources, who added that including catalog sales that figure could spike to about $1.19 million.

Beauty Lab

Two years after inaugurating its “fashion laboratory” for young designer labels, the Galeries Lafayette flagship department store on Boulevard Haussmann just debuted its “beauty laboratory.”

“Our objective is not to make a museum of novelties,” explained Yvan Delhommeau, director of buying for the store’s perfumery department. Instead, he wants to address individual needs. “We believe people today want to differentiate themselves; they want to have products that can’t be found everywhere,” he said.

But it’s not a grab-bag mix in the minimalist, open-assisted sell, 1,000-square-foot department, which is divided into fragrance and cosmetics sections. “Each product here must have a purpose,” he continued. “We want what’s new, what is good for you and what’s different.”

Among the lines carried exclusively in the cosmetics lab are Paul Niehans and Jogah. Brands in the fragrance lab include Agent Provocateur, Serge Lutens, Andrée Putman and Gobin Daude.

According to industry sources, the new beauty labs together could register sales of about $3.76 million in the first 12 months.

By Terry

Terry de Gunzburg opened her third By Terry store in Paris, on Avenue Victor Hugo, in May. The 1,076-square-foot boutique featuring wooden fixtures and antique mirrors showcases her signature ready-to-wear clothing line and — starting this fall — will include a By Terry “colortheque,” also found in her first Paris store.

The colortheque is a table chockablock with products of differing shades, from which consumers can choose and order. This product range is priced between her made-to-measure line in which a year’s supply of lipstick goes for about $525 and her department store prêt-à-porter collection, in which a lipstick sells for about $26. Products from the colortheque will be available 48 hours after orders are placed.

Industry sources estimate the new store could ring up $991,000 in its first year.

Said de Gunzburg: “I want to create a real alternative in beauty retailing — a store that’s not a department store, not a perfumery, not a drug store or a hairdresser, but a place of luxury that’s comfortable.”