PARIS — Betting on one of the hottest high-end strips in Paris, historic Belgium leather goods house Delvaux has planted its flag on Rue Saint-Honoré, opening a temporary spot with an eye to a permanent store in the same space.
The themed set-up draws inspiration from René Magritte, with a series of partly open doorways, bright blue, cloud-dotted skies, and floating cutouts of suited men in bowler hats.
“We thought it was interesting to start with a strong presentation of the Magritte collection in this location — it’s attractive, it’s surprising, but it’s also credible,” said Delvaux’s chief executive officer Jean-Marc Loubier.
The firm has a long-standing partnership with the Magritte Foundation; nods to the Belgian artist extend to the merchandise with a handbag inscribed “Ceci n’est pas un Delvaux,” which translates to “This is not a Delvaux,” and card holders with bowler hat images.
Lifting a light-blue bag from the Brilliant line, artistic director Christina Zeller explained that the brand likes to sprinkle in a bit of humor into its high-quality leather goods offer, which includes a unisex selection of computer cases, wallets and overnight bags.
“We have been extremely, extremely careful with this bag because it’s a strong signature — we didn’t want to be everywhere at the same time with this bag,” she said, pointing to a model from the Brilliant line, noting the original design dates back to 1958.
Another bag looked as if it had a scarf wrapped around the handle — upon close inspection, one could see it was leather; another had a lining depicting Magritte’s blue sky with puffy clouds.
While Delvaux already has a store in Paris, in the arcade overlooking the Palais-Royal gardens, and is also sold at the Bon Marché and Galeries Lafayette, it gains a solid foothold in the French capital with the new Rue Saint-Honoré address. The brand is not available through digital channels, even in China, where it is popular with a younger clientele than in Europe, according to Loubier.
“The location is very important,” said Loubier, describing his approach to the label’s stores as a “theater to meet our customer.”
Each store has a link to its location, while channeling the brand’s identity, he added. The label recently added new flagships in Rome, New York and London to its international network, which now counts 44 boutiques.
“We want to be at the same time very Delvaux — very Delvaux according to our roots in Belgium but also we want to belong to the city where we are,” he said.
Rue Saint-Honoré, as a luxury retail destination, has seen its stature rise considerably over the years, with labels like Louis Vuitton, Boucheron and Chanel investing heavily in flagships which serve as sprawling brand showcases.
Delvaux, which has been the official supplier to the Belgian royal court since 1883, was purchased by First Heritage Brands in 2011. It has invested in new workshops in France and Belgium, more than doubling the number of artisans, from 64 to 220.
Sales have increased tenfold since the acquisition, and international sales have increased from 3 percent to 85 percent.