Rabih Kayrouz at his new London store

LONDON — As Rabih Kayrouz gets ready to mark 20 years in business, he is also “starting a new adventure” with the opening of his first boutique here.

Located on Mount Street, next to fellow Parisians Christian Louboutin and Roger Vivier, the new space stocks the brand’s ready-to-wear, bridal and couture collections.

For Kayrouz, who is Lebanese and based in Paris, the British capital was an appealing new location given the city’s diverse set of residents and passersby.

“I’ve never felt like a stranger in London. There is this openness, which is very important and even today with Brexit, I don’t think that changed much. There’s all these people living and working in London. Who is English? Who is not?” the designer said. “When I design, my Oriental side always plays a part, my French attitude is always there, too, but I design for all women. So London is perfect because I think this is where you can tap into a customer base from around the world.”

Having a physical space is a key part of the brand’s strategy, as Kayrouz wants to stay focused on keeping his wholesale distribution tight and developing his retail footprint further to allow his customers to get up-close-and-personal with the brand. He has his eyes on the U.S. and Asian markets next.

“There’s no better way to show the brand’s universe than with our own store. The collections are about a wardrobe, it’s not about a gown here, a white shirt there, so opening stores is also a big part of our business development plan,” the designer added.

He chose Mount Street as he was looking for a neighborhood with an elegant, homey feel, and he made sure to channel that same atmosphere in the store: He restored some of the space’s traditional English features such as the black lacquered moulding; added cozy wooden floors and minimalist furniture that can easily be moved around when he wants to refresh the space.

“I’m not avant garde and I’m not pretending to be avant garde. At the same time, I don’t want a generic space, it has to feel homey and comfortable, not overwhelming. I don’t like places where you get intimidated, I just want you to walk in and to enjoy the shopping experience. At the end of the day I want to sell, but I want this experience to be memorable,” said Kayrouz, who dedicated two rooms to his rtw collections, a third to bridal and another space for private couture appointments.

He plans to visit London more often to spend time with private clients, as well as host events on the store’s lower ground floor space, which has been turned into an art salon and will be used to host a variety of exhibitions, starting with French-Lebanese photographer Nadim Asfar.

A series of exclusives will also drop into the store to mark the opening, including reworked versions of the brand’s season-less “Essentials” line.

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