PARIS — On the eve of the opening of his first flagship, energetic French designer Alexis Mabille said that despite having given detailed design specifications to architects Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet for the Left Bank outlet here, discovering the completed project was still “moving.”
“The day when you finally discover the finished store, with the sign outside and the windows dressed, your heart gives a little leap,” he said.
The 1,200-square-foot location, at 11 Rue de Grenelle, is a contemporary take on an Art Deco dressing room. A wide — 48 square feet — glass storefront reveals the bright interior.
The store’s door, whose handle takes the form of a large version of Mabille’s signature bow, opens onto a semi-circular black-and-white marble staircase leading down onto the shop floor, with a mirrored rear wall that’s in another semi-circular shape spreading out on both sides. Metal rails between mirrored partitions show off the clothes, daywear to one side of the store and evening styles to the other.
The strong lines of the mirrors and black metal frames are counterbalanced by a pale oak floor, powder pink curtains and a giant pink velvet seat, while accessories are displayed on mirrored cubes.
“A lot of people thought I would do something very ‘girly,’ because my clothes are very refined, but that was not what I wanted. I wanted, quite the opposite, to reflect what [the brand is] today, very luxurious,” he explained, likening the store to a Guy Bourdin photo.
These are busy times for Mabille, who is putting the finishing touches on his spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection, which will be showing at Les Docks in Paris on Wednesday.
“It will be a good mix of the romanticism my work is known for mixed with a more earthy vision that corresponds with life today,” Mabille revealed.
His second retail venture will be a store-cum-showroom, to open in October in the Galerie Vivienne on the Right Bank, whose design will be very different from the first store.
“It will be a lot more intimate, with women’s ready-to-wear, principally cocktail and accessories, and some men’s, which will also be very dressy, on the first floor,” Mabille said. “Upstairs will be our couture salon, where we welcome our clients. Couture clients like being in a small, intimate room, and it is perfect because it’s like a little doll’s house.”
As for further retail expansion, the designer plans to open in New York, preferably on the Upper East Side, within two years, before London and Asia — either China or Singapore — in the longer term.
“New York is a priority, because we have many American customers who buy in Paris, and we do not have sufficient distribution over there, and they are often frustrated not to be able to find our products,” he said.