PARIS — There will be gold at Piaget’s new Hudson Yards flagship. Emphasizing its handiwork with the metal — hair-like chiseling is a house specialty — the watch and jewelry label, which belongs to Compagnie Financière Richemont, has infused the new store with gold — lining the glass doors at the entrance and as a rim to the soft, angled arches and display cases in the store.
“It’s very refined; it embodies Piaget,” Chabi Nouri, Piaget chief executive officer, told WWD. The label’s first U.S. store to carry the new design blueprint, the idea is to channel the feel of the house’s historical, upscale Geneva salon, dating to back to 1959.
“We really wanted to come back with…strong, let’s say, Piaget values, and have this type of feeling of lifestyle within the store so you will see a lot of spaces where you can really enjoy time, relax and spend time with the brand,” said Nouri.
The new boutique comes at a time when brands across the spectrum — from fast fashion to the most exclusive labels — increasingly use their stores as a place to convey a certain image, drawing clients in through events and by offering refreshments, rather than just as a spot to stock merchandise.
Piaget, which seeks to project an upbeat outlook — “sunny side of life” is the official catchphrase — last year took part in a jet-setter’s trip organized by Net-a-porter — also owned by Richemont — spending a few days with “ambassadors and friends” of the brand to live the “full Piaget experience,” Nouri explained. Not to mention generating images for social networks.
“Expressing the lifestyle,” as Nouri puts it, has become key to high-end watch and jewelry labels, for building up a fan base among younger generations, who are known to choose traveling over accumulating stuff, or to capture the imaginations of the more seasoned consumers who already have everything they need.
At SIHH, the luxury watch fair in Geneva, the label last year set up a plush, plant-lined booth with water spilling from the ceiling into a pool — later reproduced, on a small scale, in shop windows. The set this year was a beach scene, with real sand, and, tucked to the side, a plant-lined shower stall, where people could take films of themselves being showered in virtual strips of gold foil.
As ‘storytelling’ becomes more important for standing out in a crowded field, Piaget hopes to draw on its history in the U.S.
The Piaget family, which launched the Polo watch model in the late Seventies and early Eighties — which was popular in the U.S.— sponsored the Polo World Cup in West Palm Beach, Fla., and closed part of New York’s Fifth Avenue for polo players riding to Central Park for a competition.
Such events would be difficult to bring together in this day and age, noted Nouri, who lauded the label’s role in Hudson Yards as a way to establish a foothold in a new retail proposal.
“We were quite excited with this Hudson Yards big concept, let’s say, the retail element — because it also encapsulates everything between art, culture, sharing joy, sharing moments — it’s like a time capsule where you stop and you enjoy life,” she said.
It also serves as a marketplace at a time when labels are banding together to tap into traffic generated by others. Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier — which opened its Bond Street flagship in London in December, as much exhibit center and fancy apartment as shop space — are two other Richemont labels at the Hudson Yards complex.
Richemont last year jettisoned its brand-by-brand approach to Internet sites, buying industry leaders in e-commerce, Yoox Net-a-porter Group and Watchfinder. Following the YNAP purchase, which closed last year, plans are being drawn up to hand over management of web brand flagships to the online operator.
Piaget’s Hudson Yards store, which also has accents of the Piaget blue — a bright, lapis lazuli hue — is divided into different areas, including a lounge area and a private alcove, and includes separate sections for men’s pieces and high jewelry. The label has around 100 stores around the world, the majority of which are wholly owned.
While tablet screens will be on hand, the Manhattan store will offer “discovery also in touch and feel,” said Nouri. The executive expects the store to serve as an introduction to people who don’t know the brand, which is why, in addition to relaying the label’s prestige, it is also meant to be a comfortable place to make sure people feel “at ease” with the label, she said.
Elegant watches are making a comeback, noted Nouri, and the label used meteorite for new editions of men’s and women’s Altiplano watches, with special coating to add color.
Exclusive fine-jewelry pieces on offer at the new store are from the Sunlight collection, due to be released in June.