Responding to increasing competition in natural cosmetics in France, the Arlesheim, Switzerland-based skin care brand unveiled its first freestanding store anywhere, in Paris, last week. It features an eye-catching rainbow of stripes around its doorway.
The linear exterior design of the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt boutique is intended to contrast with the rounded, softer harmonious shapes inside. Architect Maryam Ashford-Brown created the 3,230-square-foot store to be a haven of nature in the heart of Paris, with plants, oak wood and walls of Breton granite.
Sales spiked 50 percent last year, to 38 million euros, or $49 million at current exchange, as consumers increasingly turn to natural and organic products. Weleda France, a fully owned subsidiary of Weleda AG, also has found that sector increasingly crowded. "Our competitors are being active, and new organic brands are springing up," said Sarah Dierdorf, manager of Espace Weleda. "We thought as it's been 80 years since we've been in France, and since we've been faithful to this [natural] philosophy, it's unfair if others take away our market share, simply because we're less visible."
Weleda spent 700,000 euros, or $901,430, of its 2.5 million euros, or $3.2 million, global communication budget to create the store. Its purpose is primarily that of a showroom, to communicate the brand's image.
Upon entering, visitors are greeted with a vertical garden, designed by Patrick Blanc, with a water fountain at its base. Adjacent, giant-sized tumblers, like those used in Weleda's laboratories, display the plant essences upon which its skin care products are based.
The opposite wall features the brand's 90 stockkeeping units. Each collection is lit by lamps decorated with a drawing of their main plant ingredients, either an iris, a rose, arnica or calendula, by Greek artist Ianna Andréadis.
A sliding glass door, embellished with a pattern of iris flowers by Japanese stylist Shu Moriyama to evoke a field when it is moved, separates the boutique from a space for facial treatments. Two adjacent spacious treatment rooms, in wood with adjustable color lighting and wooden beds, are for body massages. Treatments range from 26 euros, or $33, for a 20-minute hand massage to 120 euros, or $155, for a one-hour, 45-minute full-body "harmony" and face massage."Weleda's aim is to democratize — that is, make natural cosmetics affordable for everyone," explained Olaf Maurice, Weleda France's commercial manager. "The treatment tariffs are lower than many, given the prestige of the center."
Upstairs, the brand has created a balcony area to host concerts and exhibitions and an adjacent space, with daylight pouring through a glass-brick ceiling, will host massage workshops. The store will be closed to the public on Mondays for professional training.
To avoid taking business away from the brand's existing points of sale, the products' price positioning is in the middle of the range of Weleda's French sales points, mostly pharmacy doors, explained Dierdorf.
While executives declined to discuss sales forecasts, industry sources say they believe the store, which took seven months to complete, will generate 50,000 euros, or $64,390, in first-year sales.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast