PARIS — After two years of construction, Hermès is reopening its Avenue George V store in Paris, a three-story flagship expanded to nearly 6,000 square feet and given an airy, modern touch.
Europe’s luxury giants are investing heavily in outfitting stores in key locations around the world, spurred by the rise of digital commerce, which has heightened competition for discerning consumers.
Outside, brown awnings jut out from the windows lining each floor are stamped Hermès, while the label is carved with gold lettering into the polished wood facade, which dates back to the late 19th century and anchors the triangular-shaped Haussmannian building.
Hermès widened the entrance to the Avenue George V, which draws visitors into the perfume section; silk scarves and ties sit nearby, with discrete mosaic tiles underfoot nodding to the historic Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré flagship. Venture further, and down a few steps and visitors find displays of leather goods, wallets and cardholders under glass while handbags sit on shelves on the walls lining the space.
“It’s the reopening of an emblematic store,” said Florian Craen, executive vice president of sales and distribution for the company, speaking from the second floor, between the jewelry and homeware sections of the store, at the intersection of the old space and the addition. The place was packed with guests for a cocktail event Tuesday night to celebrate the opening the next day. Craen explained that the store will cater to both local and international clients, noting its strategic position between the Champs Élysées and Avenue Montaigne.
The spaces upstairs are meant to be more intimate than the ground level, with carpet underfoot and brown wooden drawers for the displays of jewelry and watches. Men’s and women’s wear are also on the second floor, as well as the shoe section. Private salons are up another flight.
Down on the street, a brass band played while guests sipped mulled wine from porcelain cups. Projectors added swathes of color to the outside of the building, as well as shadow figures in bowler hats playing instruments like their real-life counterparts.
A winding central staircase with a leather-covered handrail forks into two separate routes. Leather harnesses dot the stairway, in a nod to the house’s historic roots as a saddle-maker.