PARIS — There might be a new Paris flagship in the cards for Christian Dior.
The seventh in a series of Motherpeace Tarot deck-inspired pop-ups the brand has set up around the world in the past month, a Rue Saint Honoré location opens today. And it may be the prelude to a future permanent address for the storied brand, according to Christian Dior chief executive officer Sidney Toledano.
“We are working on an exciting project that we will talk about at a later date, that goes beyond the perimeter of the store,” said Toledano, noting that while that project involves a larger space, it’s too early to talk about the size of the plans — saying only that it would be a Dior boutique.
The pop-up at 386 Rue Saint Honoré is a narrow, triangular-shaped space with large windows that juts out onto a street corner at an unusual angle.
Toledano discovered the spot 16 years ago while scouting for locations for John Galliano, then the couturier at Dior and the creative director of his eponymous brand.
“With John, we were looking for something that wasn’t the Faubourg [Saint Honoré], or Avenue Montaigne or even Rue Royale, but a place that was evolving,” explained Toledano, referring to the other high-end streets in Paris.
“Avenue Montaigne is fairly homogenous…the Faubourg [Saint Honoré], with its embassies and the Presidential Palace, has a specific feel, but as soon as you cross the Rue Royale, you enter a different atmosphere, with an evolving mind-set,” he said. “Avenue Montaigne, with the house’s haute couture ateliers, reflects Monsieur Dior with all of its splendor, its values; Rue Saint Honoré, it’s still high-quality, but with a much more relaxed atmosphere.”
For around seven years, and starting at the time of former Dior designer Raf Simons, the brand has been setting up pop-up stores in places Toledano described as unexpected, in order to reach different clients and project new, temporary themes.
At 44 Avenue Montaigne, a stone’s throw from the brand’s historic address at number 30, Dior last year launched the first ready-to-wear collection by current couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri in a pop-up atmosphere.
“We created a specific setting to build a universe that projected the theme of the collection,” explained Toledano, referring to a space that set a modern tone with unvarnished wood, concrete and metal, decorated with contemporary furniture.
The Saint Honoré pop-up reflects the same architectural style as the 44 Avenue Montaigne space, selling T-shirts, biker jackets and an exclusive series of six hand-painted leather shopping bags.
The Tarot theme from the 2018 resort collection by Chiuri draws on Christian Dior’s fascination with astrology, bringing inspiration from the Motherpeace Tarot deck by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble in the Seventies.
“Fortune-telling and tarot cards are part of the house codes that I discovered in exploring the history of Christian Dior, and that I have taken and reinterpreted in each collection with a different spirit,” explained Chiuri. The tarot deck by Vogel and Noble project strength, she added, serving as “the artistic expression of a feminism capable of healing and fortifying.”
The arrival of the astrological motif pop-up store coincides with broader changes on the stretch of the street that runs between the Rue Royale and the Louvre Museum. One of the street’s most famous occupants for two decades has been Colette, the concept store known for drawing fashion-thirsty crowds. Credited with transforming the neighborhood into a buzzing destination, Colette surprised people this summer by announcing plans to relinquish the space over to Saint Laurent and close before year-end.
Not far is the sprawling new flagship for Louis Vuitton, like Dior a LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand, which anchors the south end of the Place Vendôme with its special salons for high-end clients that might be staying at some of the five-star hotels in the neighborhood like the Ritz and Meurice.
Rue Saint Honoré has become a succession of flagships from smaller brands, with refurbished stores including the Paris outpost of Kate Spade New York and a new Robert Clergerie boutique; Fendi and Stella McCartney also moved in over the past year and Chanel recently expanded a store on the street.
“I recently returned from a visit to Shanghai, I returned from Japan, I returned from Boston, Chicago, and I think that for these places, we have to maintain our values, our principles, but also you have to take the essence of the street, of the neighborhood, and that influences the architecture and the merchandising,” said Toledano.
Toledano, who is wrapping up a 20-year tenure at the helm of Christian Dior and will experience his last haute couture show by the label in January as director, noted the brand’s 70th anniversary retrospective at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris was a major event for the house this year.
“I’m very happy we were able to share this with hundreds of thousands of people, French, Parisian, foreigners from around the world, everyone wants to see it,” he said, adding the next project is to take the exhibit somewhere else.
“These are moments of, well, to say things simply, moments of happiness, you see, with the pop-up — these little, ephemeral things…and this grand exhibit, in honor of an extraordinary couturier, that has inspired me for over 20 years and will continue to do so,” said Toledano.