“I want to be very close to the clients,” the designer confessed on Wednesday, leading an exclusive tour of the 500-square-foot unit at 10 Rue d’Alger, which is dressed in midnight-blue lacquer, brown stone and brushed brass. “The danger for designers today — especially in the age of Instagram — is buying too much into the image alone and forgetting our major role is to be at the service of women.
“I just want to be in the boutique all the time,” she continued. “It’s so exciting to see how women buy the clothes.”
Wearing a printed silk blouse, sweater vest, trousers and high heels, the vivacious designer said she first learned the importance of client interaction by working under the late designer Loris Azzaro, whose studio was located about his historic Paris boutique.
Seward launched her signature label of ready-to-wear and accessories for fall 2015, backed by French contemporary chain A.P.C., with a wish to make her brand, her clothes and her shop as “personal as possible.”
Prior to her launching her signature collection, described by A.P.C. founder and owner Jean Touitou as “sensible luxury,” Seward did five capsule collections for the brand.
The Vanessa Seward collection is also wholesaled to about 20 boutiques, including Printemps and Le Bon Marché in Paris, with an online exclusive at Net-a-porter.com in addition to vanessaseward.com, which went live on July 25.
Seward said she’s plotting one or two additional Paris boutiques and zeroing in on a location to open in Los Angeles in July 2016.
Dedicating entire days to interact with clients is part of the retail plan — helping Seward better understand her audience and how “office dressing” is evolving.
She cited a “good reaction” in the initial days of trading as Paris wakes up from the August doldrums for “la rentrée,” the return to work and school. Best-selling items include clover-print dresses and blouses, A-line skirts in leather, midheeled mary janes and vaguely Seventies jeans, which can be personalized with a name stitched on the back pocket.
Actress Léa Seydoux and Schiaparelli spokeswoman and model Farida Khelfa are said to have already combed the racks, arranged in zigzag formation to echo the folding screens that line the walls.
Collaborating with architect Laurent Deroo, Seward sought a sober, masculine decor as a foil to her feminine designs, achieved with brown, heavily veined stone from South America that covers the floors, cash-wrap, fixtures and columns.
Two fitting rooms are dressed in pale elm wood and sheltered from view by a screenlike wall, so clients can show their boyfriends their outfits with privacy, Seward explained. Potted plants add a homey touch.
Seward’s husband, musician Bertrand Burgalat, conceived the eclectic soundtrack for the store, ranging from The Ramones to late Toulouse crooner Claude Nougaro.
Taking an organic approach to the growth of her signature line, Seward recently designed her first pre-collection, for spring 2016, snaring additional wholesale clients including La Garçonne in New York.
She is slated to stage her second runway show at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture on Oct. 6 during Paris Fashion Week.