Giambattista Valli Sets Paris Flagship

Designer’s first boutique is situated in a 19th-century arcade.

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PARIS — Giambattista Valli has opened his first stand-alone store in a 19th-century commercial arcade off of the tony Rue Royale here.

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Located below his headquarters, which houses a couture salon and his design studio, the 1,500-square-foot boutique marks the last brick in Valli’s six-year creation of his independent fashion house.

Designed by Valli and longtime collaborator, architect Luigi Scialanga, whose jewelry is sold in the store, the space marries original features, such as 17th-century stone pillars and beams, mirrored shelving units and antique finds, with modern elements like a light gray concrete floor, inspired by New York lofts.

Viewed from the passageway, the store’s gallery-like windows house large “making of” photographs taken by Valli, depicting a fitting, rows of empty show seats and other scenes. “There are so many amazing windows — Lanvin, Hermès, just around the corner, I wanted to do my own thing,” said the designer, who likes sharing the process behind his collections by presenting framed technical drawings, for instance, or iPads in glass domes screening his catwalk shows.

Quirky details inside the store include rough ceiling areas bearing traces of old moldings and panels since removed. The walls are pale pink.

A rack of quintessentially Parisian little black dresses hang in the entrance, along with shelves of footwear, including a range of crocodile skin shoes and boots that can be custom ordered.

Throughout the store, archive Valli designs rub shoulders with pieces from his current collection as a point of reference for clients seeking to order custom-made pieces.

Split into two areas, the store’s main space on one side boasts large changing rooms with antique floor-to-ceiling mirrored doors, a central seating area, and, across the way, a long clothing unit spanning the length of the windows, blocking them from view to create a feeling of calm. “I think today an [intimate] atmosphere is a luxury,” said Valli.

An avid antiques collector, the designer handpicked the store’s objects and furniture, most of which are for sale, such as framed original sketches by Yves Saint Laurent or Venetian chairs embroidered with beaded jewelry motifs, “as if a lady was getting changed and left her jewelry on the chair.”

Black pepper and rose-infused candles from Valli’s new collaboration with Cire Trudon perfume the air. Valli said he is keen to pursue regular co-brandings to create a flow of novelty items for the store. A Roberta di Camerino for Giambattista Valli bag line, featuring vintage di Camerino velvets, will hit the store over the coming days, for instance, while at the store’s opening party during couture week in January, Valli will unveil a limited edition bag collaboration with Longchamp, featuring versions of the Longchamp Pliage bag in luxury leathers and fabrics from the designer’s cruise and spring-summer 2010 collections.

Giambattista Valli is distributed in 240 doors across 34 countries. The brand in 2010 has seen a 25 percent increase in sales versus 2009, though figures were not available. The U.S. and the Middle East are among Valli’s leading markets.

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