RHINESTONE COWBOY: If Philipp Plein had to choose a name for his new Avenue George V boutique in Paris, it might be “Napoleon.”
“It’s a very historical street and you don’t find such big history in many cities, I have to say. I’m a fan of Paris,” said the German-born designer as 2Pac’s “California Love” thumped in the background.
“I don’t know what would be the right name for the store here — Napoleon?”
Fully decked out in his label — layers included a black hoodie under a bomber jacket — Plein was in Paris to mark the store’s opening before heading to the jet-set ski resort Courchevel, the site of another one of his boutiques.
At number 44, the new George V address is a black marble affair with stark white veins, designed by Milan architect Claudio Pironi and Partners. Screens show past runway shows, with models in cropped T-shirts and cocktail dresses set amid palm trees and swimming pools. A mammoth Murano chandelier presides over the ground floor, with a ring of skulls sitting discreetly among the tusks of curved glass; a smaller version lights up the men’s section in the basement below. A men’s crocodile skin coat with a removable mink lining sells for 85,000 euros, a snakeskin jacket embellished with matte tan studs has a 12,500 euro price tag.
On the walls, honey-comb shelving displays sunglasses and serves as a reference to the brand’s logo: two P’s back-to-back, in a hexagon. Black leather and chrome chairs also replicated the geometric shape, as well as the stud that Plein pointed out on his jeans — just below the front zipper.
Napoleon, or any other French man proud of his country’s shape, might have been disappointed, but there was nothing about France’s geography in his description of the logo’s origins:
“I wanted to have a symbol, you can’t always write ‘Philipp Plein’ so we developed a hexagon — I drew it on a plane,” he explained.
The “PP” initials are a tag coined by the label’s Asian customer; the company has over 20 stores in China and 14 in South Korea.
“In China, they don’t say Philipp Plein, they say ‘PP, PP.’ So we are PP now. For many markets, it’s easier,” said Plein, who wears his hair short, except for a modest tuft that shoots up in front.
The Lugano, Switzerland-based group has two stores on Rue de Rivoli, including its Plein Sport brand. Plans to set up a Billionaire Couture shop on Rue Saint-Honoré next fall will bring the company’s Paris shops to five.
“It’s very exciting,” said the 39-year-old, recalling selling his furniture designs at a trade show in Paris when he was in his twenties. His enthusiasm for the French capital did not appear to be damped after his party got robbed upon landing in a private jet at a small airport the day before.
“We got robbed, yeah, with cars, they came with the guns, the masks,” said Plein, describing the scene.
The group counts around 700 employees and the fastest growing market is online, according to Plein.
“I’m proud to say we reached nearly 13 million euros in turnover online,” he said, adding that his teams recently had a hard time fulfilling a surge of 13,000 orders in four days.
The brand’s next fashion show will be in Brooklyn in February.
“It’s going to be really cool, [with] helicopters flying there, boats going there — a secret location, a really cool production,” he said. The brand, which recently forged a collaboration with American boxer Floyd Mayweather, is known for cabaret-style shows, attended by celebrities like Madonna and Paris Hilton.