Fragrance entrepreneur Frédéric Malle has opened his first freestanding store in the U.S., a 900-square-foot space located at 898 Madison Avenue at 72nd Street, in Manhattan.
This story first appeared in the November 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We’ve had a good show of people,” Malle — reached by phone between store visits in London and Moscow — said of the shop’s performance to date. “It’s going very much according to plan. So far, the numbers are very good.”
Industry sources estimate the store, which was opened in the bustling neighborhood Oct. 30, could ring up first-year sales in excess of $1 million, with revenues in the second year exceeding that figure by 30 percent.
The opening comes almost 10 years after Malle unveiled his first boutique, in Paris, in June 2000. The New York store is his fourth freestanding location; his three other stores are in the City of Light.
The idea was to make the New York store like a comfortable living space, reminiscent of an apartment or a home. Lavish furniture, curtains and wall-to-wall brown, geometric-printed carpeting lend to this homey feel. A desk that belonged to Malle’s grandfather also adorns the space.
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“Fragrance is about comfort, so it was important to have decor that conveys this idea,” said Malle, who designed the store in conjunction with architect Patrick Naggar.
“This shows where I want to take this brand,” Malle added. “I decided to go with a mid-Thirties, late-Twenties Art Deco style. It’s a mix of oak and white, which you will find in all my stores in Paris. It’s a modern interpretation of classical French luxury.”
The shop’s open feel and 11-foot ceiling are a far cry from what was formerly housed in the space: a six-room doctor’s office with low ceilings, Malle noted.
There’s a fake fireplace in the store, which was shipped from Paris, and its mantle came from a home in France. There’s also a brushed nickel refrigerator in which scents are stored to slow their maturation process.
The boutique features three of Malle’s trademark smelling columns, in which consumers can test scents from the brand’s 18 fragrances in an enclosure the size of a phone booth. “The fragrance specialist will spray a little bit of the fragrance into the column and people pop their head in,” explained Malle. “It allows the customer to smell the fragrance and it gives a good idea of the aura of the fragrance.”
In addition to the new store, Malle is launching this week a line of home fragrances exclusively in his boutiques.
Called the Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Home Fragrance Collection, the line includes candles; a mechanical, rechargeable diffuser dubbed Fleur Mécanique, and incense, which comes in small rubber sheets that have been infused with fragrance.
A box of five incense sheets is priced at $105, while the 220-g. candles range in price from $85 to $150 — depending on the scent. Fleur Mécanique is priced at $380 and 30-ml. refill capsules range in price from $70 to $100.