LONDON — Karl Lagerfeld has opened his largest European store on Regent Street here with help from an army of snowy-haired Tokidoki dolls in his likeness, a lineup of starched white detachable collars and a capsule collection saluting Great Britain.
This story first appeared in the March 14, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 2,700-square-foot Karl Lagerfeld London flagship is the 17th store to open since the brand’s rollout began 12 months ago.
On Thursday night, the designer arrived at the opening party late, but his audience had waited for its Instagram moment. There to receive him were Princess Beatrice, Tallulah Harlech, Daisy Lowe, Dominic Jones and Eliza Doolittle.
“I don’t think you could pull it off, babes; you’re just too classy,” model Jack Guinness told Princess Beatrice as one fellow party guest walked past decked in a head-to-toe look from Jeremy Scott’s McDonald’s-inspired Moschino collection. “I don’t think I can pull off McDonald’s, full stop,” the princess retorted.
Model Ollie Cheshire had just returned from New York and L.A., where he is pursuing an acting career. “I’ve been reading ‘Othello,’ studying the part of Iago,” he said. “He’s so [calculating] and manipulating. I’d love to play a proper villain like that.”
Guinness was interested in another Machiavellian character: Francis Underwood from “House of Cards.” “I turn into an utter villain for about three days after I watch that,” he said. “Cancelling contracts, brooding and playing mind games with people.”
The new store they were all celebrating is an accessories-focused affair — by popular demand.
“We have been opening stores every three weeks for the past 12 months, which means you are learning and getting feedback,” said Pier Paolo Righi, chief executive officer of Karl Lagerfeld, during an interview at the store earlier in the day.
“Accessories are getting much more space, watches are getting more space, and bags and accessories are becoming a vital strategic pillar for the business. Karl is a master of accessorization, and the consumer has responded to that. We have doubled the bags offer from last season in response to demand,” he said.
He added that this was the first new store to stock the Karl Lagerfeld fragrance, which launched earlier this week at Paris’ Palais Brongniart.
The store, located in the former Hackett space at 145-147 Regent Street, also stocks a capsule collection that salutes Britain. There are candles, T-shirts, sweatshirts, iPhone covers, wallets, bags and Karl Lagerfeld-inspired Tokidoki dolls emblazoned with various versions of the Union Jack. It is the first time Lagerfeld has created a capsule collection to mark a store opening, and the line will be exclusive to London and later roll out to other Karl Lagerfeld stores.
As for the worldwide best sellers, Righi said they include Lagerfeld’s “essential wardrobe pieces” such as the biker jacket and boot, and the little black jacket and dress.
In its bid to build the business, Karl Lagerfeld has also tapped Helen Wright, formerly president for Europe, Middle East and India at Fendi, as global vice president. Wright will take up her position on April 14 and work between Amsterdam, where Karl Lagerfeld BV is based, and London.
The 17 Lagerfeld stores are wholly owned or operated through joint ventures, and there are new stores planned for the Middle East in partnership with Chalhoub Group. A second unit will open in Berlin in April, and several dozen stores are planned worldwide over the next five years.