PARIS — The latest fruit of edgy Belgian designer Martin Margiela’s alliance with Diesel owner Renzo Rosso is a shop in one of the chicest shopping streets here.
The 1,500-square-foot unit on the Left Bank’s Rue de Grenelle — just down the street from Prada, Miu Miu, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin — is Margiela’s third in the City of Light. It bowed Wednesday amid a drive to broaden the house’s business with new retail outlets and a more extensive product range.
To wit: Margiela plans to open a shop in New York in the West Village by month’s end, and is mulling a location for Milan for next year.
This fall, the house also unveiled new men’s and women’s shoe and accessories lines, underscoring an effort to generate profits in the high-margin category.
The house had revenues of about 30 million euros, or $37.2 million at current exchange, last year.
Meanwhile, Margiela is working the public relations machine, and in January will feature his work at the Pitti trade exhibit in Florence. During the October Paris ready-to-wear show, he also will decorate the windows of France’s Ministry of Culture.
But even as he concentrates on growth — the house now operates nine shops —Margiela retains his iconoclastic approach, as his new boutique attests.
There is no nameplate above the door, formerly home to Martine Sitbon, and though a bit more soigné than some of his shops, the interior still has Margiela’s “work in progress” aesthetic.
The interior is painted the house’s signature white, floor to ceiling. A demolished wall with a window in it is left exposed, and rolls of white vinyl flooring covering the back of the shop are suspended against the wall as in a hardware shop.
A white awning — a reference to a hotel entrance — stretches along a wall and onto the sidewalk, with three silver bellhop trolleys used to display Margiela’s new line of bags and luggage. Nearby, the shell of a Seventies phone booth — painted over in white — is bolted to the wall.
In the middle is an elevated concert platform, which shoppers climb to peruse Margiela’s women’s fashion collection, 1. It is displayed amid rock paraphernalia, including microphones and a fake spotlight painted on the floor.
This story first appeared in the September 8, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Behind the structure, Margiela has plastered life-size photographs of the ornate doors in his old headquarters on the wall of the dressing room, to create an illusion that a spokesman for the house says “brings a bit of the past into the new shop.”
Men’s wear is featured in the back of the store, with Margiela’s pricy, more classic women’s collection, known as 4. All of the house’s lines are branded with a number system, from 0 to 22.
The spokesman declined to give first-year sales projections.