PARIS — Christian Dior’s upscaling drive has reached another zenith at the global epicenter of fine jewelry retailing: Place Vendôme.
At its nine-year-old boutique here at No. 8, just given an overhaul by architect Peter Marino, customers can gaze up at a silvery, diamond-studded Damien Hirst butterfly painting or a monumental Lee Bul chandelier while standing atop a plush, custom carpet hand-woven in 23 shades of gray silk.
But Dior also expects them to spend, given that a similar Marino makeover at the brand’s fine jewelry boutique in Geneva yielded a triple-digit sales bump, Sidney Toledano, Dior’s chief executive officer, said during a walk-through of the 1,350-square-foot boutique, which opens to the public Tuesday after a day of VIP selling.
“This will be one of the top-five stores for fine jewelry,” he said. “It’s not a just-looking store. It’s a real shopping experience.”
Toledano highlighted the unit’s residential proportions, 18th-century French detailing and expensive materials, artworks, fixtures — and, of course, jewels.
“We see clients from all over the world, from Paris to Moscow to Shanghai, demanding more and more excellence in the products and the way we service our clients,” he said. “This is pure Parisian savoir-faire.”
Marino created a series of small salons around a two-story atrium, including one devoted to watches tucked under a grand staircase that leads up to a VIP area. Unifying the decor are countless gradations of gray and multiple couture touches.
“Modern exquisiteness” is how Marino described the atmosphere, marveling at how far luxury retailing has come. “Everything is hand-woven, hand-embroidered. It can’t get more special,” he said, gesturing to a faux window set with a sepia photo of a French garden. “Who would have thought 10 years ago we would have Lesage-embroidered curtains in a boutique?”
Dotted throughout the store are in-wall niches — some panoramic and set with miniature replica couture salons, others small boxes framed in gold — displaying the creations of Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s fine jewelry designer since 1999.
Incorporated in some cases are exotic taxidermy birds, colorful butterflies or spectacular minerals. One display case features signed sketches by de Castellane of jewels yet to be realized, scattered with exceptional stones.
Prices in the boutique range from about 1,300 euros, or $1,770 at current exchange, for a small Bagatelle ring up into the seven figures for exceptional watches and high jewelry pieces. An eight-piece range of rose-themed jewelry is exclusive to the store.
Toledano said the Marino concept, already applied in Moscow, Dubai and Shanghai, will roll out further, including on Peking Road in Hong Kong and at Dior’s revamped New York flagship, opening next month.
Dior sells fine jewelry in about 60 boutiques, and is devoting more space to the category with more freestanding units, or spaces adjacent to its fashion locations with separate entrances, he added.