It’s Chanel’s turn in the ongoing storewide renovation at Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York City flagship. Chanel today reopened its newly redesigned and expanded boutique on Saks’ third floor, its first renovation since initially opening in 2008.
“It was definitely time for us to elevate and even expand our ready-to-wear offer and presence,” said Joyce Green, Chanel’s executive vice president of fashion.
The boutique opens with the Paris-Cosmopolite fall Metiers d’art Collection, which was shown at the Ritz Paris. Peter Marino, who designs all of Chanel’s retail, revamped the nearly 3,000-square-foot store with new fixtures and furniture inspired by Coco Chanel’s famous Paris apartment on Rue Cambon to give it a residential feel. An additional 900 square feet that was previously back-of-house space at Saks was added to the boutique.
The first salon features ready-to-wear as well as custom displays for costume jewelry. There are graphic ivory and black tweed carpets, and ivory walls with fresco finishes to mimic a tweed texture. In the second ready-to-wear salon, a gold and ivory tweed coach is set between a pair of Michael Pohu lamps in black steel with gold details. Club chairs are positioned around a Tony Viney engraved grubstone and bronze coffee table.
Then there’s a new, very large private fitting suite set behind two mirrored sliding doors emblazoned with the double-C logo in gold. “We’re calling it the Coco Salon,” said Tracy Margolies, Saks’ chief merchant. It’s set up like a living room with a beige suede sofa, a gold screen inspired by the Coromandel screens in Chanel’s apartment and a bronze and rock crystal Goossens chandelier and matching table lamps. In an adjacent dressing room, clients can adjust the lighting, temperature and music to their tastes.
The store features artwork by Robert Greene, Louis Heilbronn and Shelter Serra as well as a piece by Brooklyn-based artist Tara Donovan.
As part of what Saks is calling its Grand Renovation, in the last year several other designer shops have been redesigned and relocated on the third floor, including Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler and Valentino. Earlier this year Dior and Louis Vuitton also opened revamped shops on Saks third floor. Chanel was a priority. It’s the largest Chanel boutique in any Saks location.
“Ever since we opened the Chanel boutique in our New York flagship, it has been a top volume brand for the store. Not only ready-to-wear, but categories throughout the store are thriving,” said Margolies. “Hand-in-hand with the brand, we’ve grown the shop’s clientele to its strongest base to-date — they are some of our most loyal customers.”
Saks is undergoing its renovation as retail — and department stores in particular — are facing major challenges. Asked about the importance of maintaining the physical store in this moment, Margolies said, “In today’s retail environment and era of online shopping, Saks is focused on maintaining and creating new reasons and experiences for customers to visit our stores. For example, in the new boutique clients can enjoy private appointments in the Coco Salon, tailoring by Chanel-certified fitters, beauty services and refreshments, among other amenities.”
While Chanel is one of the few luxury brands with a healthy business in this climate, the company is still certainly aware of the state of the industry. Asked if challenged department stores business impacted the design strategy of the Saks boutique, Green said, “We look at each of our distribution points as a unique and thankfully we’re not overly distributed so we’re a little different than most brands in that regard,” she said. “But we really looked at New York City as a market. We have our boutique in SoHo, which we know is a different expression of the brand and we’re renovating our flagship on 57th Street so we really wanted something that would complement the city and give different expressions of Chanel in the environment.”
Chanel’s accessories shop on Saks’ main floor is also due to be renovated.