LA STORIA: A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

Byline: Victoria Petitt

PARIS — La Storia, a small, chic lingerie boutique on Rue de Sevres, recently was redesigned and is creating a stir in the rather staid world of independent lingerie stores here.
The shop, which features lingerie brands Rosy, Aubade, Rien, Lise Charmel, Millesia, Ravage, Nina Ricci, Cotton Club and Naori, now has an exotic atmosphere, complete with oriental tiles, Moroccan rugs and small palm plants. Some of the display cases, which usually show lingerie, have been transformed into fish tanks.
“The colors are very hot, very southern,” said owner Zarah Le Fauconnier, pointing to the rich red, blue and yellow velvet curtains concealing the fitting rooms, part of the decor conceived by young architects Karine Leopold and Francois Fauconnet, who redesigned the store.
La Storia took over the space in 1994 that had housed a classic, old-fashioned lingerie store for 45 years. The latest renovation is the shop’s second redesign in the last four years.
The store’s innovative window display features colorful cubbies with boxes filled with different brands of lingerie. A recent window showcased a turquoise bra and panty set by Aubade, magenta ensembles by Ravage and Lise Charmel, yellow and gold sets by Naori and a silver set by Millesia.
The new decor has attracted attention since the store reopened in March, but La Storia has always had a glam following. Models Claudia Schiffer and Carla Bruni have shopped there, and Danielle Steel and Catherine Deneueve are fairly regular customers, Le Fauconnier said. Now the store is attracting more male shoppers.
“We have a lot of men who come to buy presents for their wives or girlfriends. The gallery-like quality of the store makes it very easy and comfortable for them to come in and look around,” said Le Fauconnier. “When I was decorating, I purposely chose lots of neutral objects like vases and photographs rather than lingerie posters.”
The store now has oversized dressing rooms, because Le Fauconnier recognized that couples often shop together.
“I have lots of couples who come on Saturday,” she said. “However, many women don’t feel comfortable parading around the store in underwear to get their husbands’ opinion. Now men can go in the fitting room with their wives or girlfriends.”
Le Fauconnier plans to host evening sales twice a year with small fashion shows exclusively for men. Invitations would be addressed to Mr. and Mrs., encouraging women to sign up their husbands.
“I want to make a kind of private club for them, similar to a cigar club, where they can see the new [lingerie] models and buy them for their wives,” she said. “I also want to open a little oriental-style tea salon in the back, where I could serve a mint tea. I hope to have it open this winter.”
La Storia differs from many Parisian lingerie boutiques in the variety of sizes and prices it offers.
Rosy is La Storia’s least expensive brand; a bra and underwear set starts at $75. Aubade and Rien fall in the middle, at $100 to $116 for ensembles. Naori, Cotton Club and Lise Charmel are at the high end, with ensembles for as much as $200. The variety of the stock and prices attracts teenagers and middle-aged women alike, she noted.
“I have some women who spend $1,160 to $1,830 at once, and others who have to pay in deposits to purchase one set,” she added.
Le Fauconnier said she ultimately would love to develop a mail-order catalog for La Storia, since foreign clients accounted for roughly 30 percent of the store’s 1997 sales of $666,600. In fact, she achieves 15 percent of sales via mail already because she sends brand catalogs to her overseas clients.

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