Givenchy isn’t the only Parisian fashion house New York Fashion Week-bound.
While Chanel will save its runway show for the City of Light, the brand will still have a presence in New York. Beginning on Friday, Chanel will open a pop-up boutique in the Meatpacking District to celebrate the launch of its new Boy.Friend watch collection. Unlike most NYFW-adjacent celebrations, the store will be open to the public.
“The Boy.Friend watch collection has a distinct personality and appeal, which we felt would be best expressed through a more engaging and interactive environment that only a pop-up experience could provide,” said John Galantic, president and chief operating officer of Chanel Inc. “Located at the crossroads of art, culture and commerce, and in the midst of a special moment in New York — New York Fashion Week — this initiative provides us with the opportunity to expose our clients and fans of the house to the world of Chanel watches in a unique and contemporary way.”
Added Nicolas Beau, Chanel’s international watch director: “We could have done an event, but we thought it was more appropriate to share it with as many people as possible. By doing the pop-up store, we are able to tell the story in a much more efficient way than just presenting pieces in a boutique. This collection deserves a special presentation.”
The line, which debuted earlier this summer, plays with codes of femininity and masculinity, a wink toward founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s fondness for wearing men’s clothes. “There are many facets of femininity, and we often say that masculinity reveals femininity,” Beau said. The watch, available in large and extra-large, features a sunken circular motif sans numerals on a black-alligator leather strap, with some options featuring diamonds. “We’ve shown to press, and some people have said, ‘A man could steal this from his wife,’” Beau said. “Its usually the other way around.”
The shop, an approximately 1,750-square-foot space, will be located at 446 West 14th Street. Inside, customers will experience the brand story through a “virtual diary” broadcasted throughout the store. “It’s a woman who is in love with her watch and posting in her diary all sorts of anecdotes and stories about the watch. At some point, her boyfriend discovers this diary and wonders who is the other man,” Beau described. Visitors will also be able to try on the watch and photograph themselves wearing the piece via an in-store photo booth. Should they fall in love with the piece, the watches will be available for purchase on site. Price points range from $12,500 for a beige gold medium model to $27,000 for a large version done in white gold and diamonds.
Beau noted that the driving force behind the project is not sales-oriented. “It’s not about just selling the watch,” he said. “The number-one goal is to tell the story and share the vision with the public.” Its no coincidence that the shop, which will be open through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., falls squarely in the middle of fashion week. “There is a very trendy concentration of people during this week, and it’s one of the best most moments in New York,” Beau said.
What is coincidental — or maybe just an ironic side effect of New York real estate — is the store’s proximity (just over one block) to the Chelsea Apple Store, and it’s Apple Watch. Beau, however, said the smartwatch had no effect on the brand’s luxury watch business. “We have not seen any change so far,” he said. “Apple is doing a great job in smartwatches. The luxury market for watches is a market about emotion, a market about dream and a market about pleasure. It has a completely different story than the smart watch market, which is about rationality and functionality. When you buy a luxurious watch, such as the Boy.Friend, you are looking for pleasure and emotion; you aren’t looking for the time and temperature in the Pacific Ocean.”