PARIS — Fine jewelry isn’t the only sector crashing the couture party. Now retailers are, as well.
Three high-profile boutiques are opening here this week: a new-look Kenzo, the city’s first Chrome Hearts unit and a high-tech showcase for Azzedine Alaïa’s accessories.
Kenzo designer Antonio Marras has remodeled the house’s spiritual flagship on the Place des Victoires in a style that is as playful as his multi-cultural fashions. “I wanted it to look like a home,” said the designer, who was due to host a party Thursday to inaugurate the store.
“It was important for me to juxtapose different cultures and ideas, and create a very welcoming environment.”
The shop is full of playful flourishes, from the surrealistic plaster flower molds that seem to float off the walls to the suspended glass display cases that Marras said were modeled after lightning bug cages.
Japanese touches — an homage to the house’s founder, Kenzo Takada — are many, from the kimono fabric that lines the dressing rooms and cushions on the banquettes to the lacquered wood shelves formed like Japanese tea trays.
The entrance to the two-level, 5,600-square-foot space boasts a graphic Serge Mouille lamp above a sales desk outfitted with built-in display niches lined in white kimono fabric.
A smattering of accessories will be displayed downstairs, but it’s upstairs where most of the merchandise will be unfurled. “I wanted the entrance to be more about a step into my world than about shopping,” explained Marras. “I liked the idea of it seeming like the check-in desk of a hotel.”
Upstairs, lacquered wood display cases and metallic racks with movable arms were created to spotlight Marras’ designs. “I didn’t want anything to be rigid,” he explained. “I wanted it to be like a house that can change with time.”
Marras said the shop would be tinkered with for a couple of months to iron out any wrinkles before the design is rolled out to the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned house’s other boutiques, starting with the store on the Place de la Madeline here next year and followed by units in Tokyo and Milan. Kenzo operates 30 stores worldwide.
Marras is keeping busy in the meantime. He said he would design costumes for a ballet at the Paris Opera next April.
Chrome Hearts chose Avenue Montaigne for its flagship here. “We already feel right at home here,” said Richard Stark, Chrome Hearts’ founder, who runs the brand with his wife, Laurie Stark. “The street is already rock ’n’ roll.”
The 960-square-foot shop showcases the brand’s signature handmade jewelry in sterling silver, gold, platinum and precious stones; limited-edition clothing made from vintage lace; eyewear; luggage, and accessories. The store is one of the first locations to showcase the Baccarat for Chrome Hearts home collection, which includes vases, glasses and a decanter.
“First-day sales were better than we expected,” boasted Laurie Stark, who welcomed guests for the July 4 opening, and hinted that other European locations are in the works. “French women are experts when it comes to accessories.”
Alaïa’s accessories boutique at 7 Rue du Moussy, created by his industrial design friend Marc Newson, is an annex to his expansive flagship here, which boasts exposed brick and wood floors.
Newson created a luxurious, vaguely futuristic counterpoint in white Carrara marble and flesh-colored leather. Faced with a support column that could not be moved, Newson created a circular space and transformed the column into a settee where up to six people can try on Alaïa’s sexy footwear.
The main Alaïa boutique had always carried footwear and handbags, but the products were somewhat lost in the cavernous space. Looks from the new fall-winter collection include ankle boots with Mongolian lamb trim for 685 euros, or $877 at current exchange, and open-toed platform pumps in patent leather for 535 euros, or $685.