PARIS — With a revamped men’s wear department, Le Bon Marché is seeking to position itself as the ultimate luxury shopping experience for the Rive Gauche guy.
Devoting more space to high-end tailored brands and shoes, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned department store on the Left Bank here cleared an additional 11,840 square feet in the basement (formerly the stationery section) for the men’s wear unit, called Balthazar.
“The new men’s department exemplifies sophisticated men’s dress and caters to the needs of the luxury consumer, who is increasingly knowledgeable in the culture of fashion and highly demanding in terms of quality, service and product origins,” said Laurence Dekowski, director of Balthazar.
Dekowski said men’s wear generates about 20 percent of Le Bon Marché’s sales, but declined to comment on sales projections for the redeveloped space.
New designer brands, including Missoni, Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Oliver Spencer, will be showcased on the ground floor as part of the store’s ambition to become “the men’s wear designer platform” in Paris by 2011.
“We will be increasing the number of limited editions as well as in-store events,” Dekowski said.
To that end, crossing the channel for the opening, Paul Smith unveiled a pop-up shop with vintage furniture, printed textiles and a range of luggage designed especially for Le Bon Marché. Pringle of Scotland’s pop-up corner boasts a line of polo shirts by Scottish illustrator David Shrigley, also designed exclusively for the store. And French director Loïc Prigent was chosen to curate an exhibit themed around men that runs until Oct. 16.
An escalator connects to the lower level and directly into the new shoe department. Thirties-inspired furniture and cabinets, as well as stone and parquet floors add to the exclusive feel.
“There has been so much demand for men’s shoes,” said Dekowski, adding that the department quadrupled in size. Prada, J.M. Weston, Salvatore Ferragamo, Santoni, Crockett & Jones, Pierre Hardy, Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander and Common Projects are among the new footwear brands.
Surrounding the shoes, tailored clothing brands such as Dunhill, Brioni, Corneliani, Loro Piana, Ermenegildo Zegna and Armani Collezioni are making their debuts. A 600-square-foot made-to-measure private salon provides customized tailoring for premium shoppers. At Balthazar, getting dressed up merits the red-carpet treatment. Personal shoppers, lockers, taxi shuttles and valet parking are available on request. A new restaurant is slated for next year.
“We wanted the department to be very spacious and to center attention around the customer in order to enhance comfort and create a unique destination, which coincides to a man’s lifestyle and the way he wants to shop today,” Dekowski said.