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PARIS — Valentino has unveiled its first men’s-only flagship in the world here, a sparse yet sumptuous temple to contemporary craftsmanship and personal style.
This story first appeared in the January 14, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Perhaps nothing expresses that better than the worktables that anchor the second floor, the epicenter of a new made-to-measure service allowing men to order not only bespoke suits, but also peacoats, personalized sneakers and jeans.
“You can have your own space to choose the [denim], stitching, the buttons,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli, who is co-creative director of the Roman house with Maria Grazia Chiuri. “We think it’s very important to give the approach of couture in a modern way.”
Made-to-order jeans, manufactured in Italy, cost about 700 to 800 euros, or about $950 to $1,100 at current exchange, with a six- to eight-week turnaround, Piccioli noted.
The 4,300-square-foot store at 273 Rue Saint-Honoré — plus a new men’s ad campaign by photographer Craig McDean destined for broad exposure — telegraph a new strategic thrust for the Roman house: While men’s wear currently represents between 7 and 8 percent of the business, the company aims to grow that to 10 to 15 percent in the next three to five years.
“This is a statement to tell everyone that we are quite ambitious about our men’s project,” chief executive officer Stefano Sassi told WWD.
Men’s fashions also get strong exposure, and a separate entrance, in a Valentino flagship that opened last month in San Francisco. Ditto for large-scale units opening later this year on Fifth Avenue in New York and in Rome on Piazza Mignanelli across from Valentino’s headquarters and atelier.
Valentino is scouting for freestanding men’s-only locations in cities including London and Milan. Several have already opened quietly in Asia, including in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Sassi noted.
Paris, however, represents the pinnacle of the brand’s take on male fashion, and the first unit displaying a new concept by British architect David Chipperfield.
In a telephone interview, Chiuri and Piccioli said the flagship showcases the expanded product range they’ve developed since taking over men’s wear three years ago — and exalts their “wardrobe” approach.
“Our man is closely related to the values of the house
— couture, craftsmanship and tailoring, mixed with contemporary workmanship and materials,” Chiuri explained, noting their approach to men’s wear is similar to the accessories category. “You want to create something special, high-quality, modern and contemporary — and iconic — for each category, to propose pieces like objects of desire.”
“Step by step, we create an ideal wardrobe,” Piccioli added. “We don’t want to create trends. We want to create a style for men.
“Men’s is kind of new for us at Valentino,” he continued. “For women, we already had an image. For men, we created a new language.”
The design duo are slated to unveil their fall men’s collection on the runway on Wednesday, to be followed by a cocktail reception in the new store and a private dinner at Caviar Kaspia.
The Paris unit shares similar materials and features with new-look women’s boutiques by Chipperfield in cities including New York, Paris, Milan and Beverly Hills.
“But the space is more austere, monumental,” Piccioli said. “It’s less soft.”
Chiuri added that the aim was to create a “timeless” rather than “decorated” boutique.
Conceived as a grand home, or palazzo, the boutique’s walls are dressed in terrazzo stone; the floors paved in Palladian marble. Furnishings — benches, shelves and counters — are made of the same materials, accented by wood and brass for display fixtures.
“Personal, not show-off,” were the words Piccioli used to describe both the store and the fashions it displays.
Accessories are showcased on the ground floor, including camouflage leather goods and, exclusive to the location, a limited edition of its Rockrunner sneaker with French flag detailing and rubber studs. Sassi noted that accessories “are doing very well” and already account for almost half of the men’s business.
Ready-to-wear collections, including runway looks, encircle the made-to-measure counters on the second floor, reached by a marble staircase. A third floor of the corner unit, catty-corner from Longchamp, houses offices.
Valentino is the latest arrival on a burgeoning fashion street in Paris that in recent years has welcomed boutiques by the likes of Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Viktor & Rolf, Chloé, Theory and Dsquared2.
Models Nicolas Ripoll, Arthur Gosse and Janis Ancens are featured in the spring campaign, representing three different examples of male beauty and “different attitudes,” according to Piccioli.