RETAILERS PRIMP FOR FASHION WEEK
Byline: Robert Murphy / with contributions from Miles Socha
PARIS — As the City of Light primps for its fashion week and prepares to welcome the world’s fashion flock, retailers here are right in step, with recent openings ranging from Brioni’s spacious flagship to the relatively hidden specialty store L’Eclaireur. Meanwhile, other fashion firms have freshened or enlarged their existing units. Here’s a roundup.
Handbags and shoes are front and center at the new look Givenchy boutique, which just reopened at 28 Faubourg Saint-Honore.
“What we tried to do is to have a store that can not only showcase our ready-to-wear,” said Marianne Tesler, chairman and chief executive officer of the house, part of luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. “I’m really pleased with the result.”
Tesler acknowledged that the narrow, 2,000-square-foot store has its limitations, but the interior design by India Mahdavi, with its burnished gold and pearly surfaces, is designed to create an atmosphere of elegance. The first output by the house’s new designer, Julien Macdonald, is a collection of cocktail dresses slated to arrive during fashion week.
The new look is already reflected in a Givenchy outlet in Kyoto, Japan, and others will get the treatment depending on the location and layout of each unit, Tesler said.
Paris is now home to Brioni’s largest-ever stand-alone store: a 9,000-square-foot, five-level unit on the Avenue George V replete with a VIP room for bespoke fittings. The shop is central to Brioni’s effort to bolster its women’s sales and image, according to Umberto Angeloni, the Italian firm’s chairman, who projects sales per square foot of about $1,700. “Women’s is 5 percent of sales now,” he said, “but we’re banking on rapidly developing this part of our business.”
Brioni tapped Fabio Piras, who is also head of the master course at Central Saint Martins College of Fashion in London, to design its traditional women’s line. It was launched a year ago.
In Paris, women’s wear occupies the 1,000-square-foot fourth floor. A pair of wool trousers retail for about $300, while a tailored jacket retails around $900. Angeloni said he would expand his women’s business next year by launching a line of high-end bags and shoes.
This new designer men’s and women’s shop is for the fashion faithful. Tucked on Rue Herold, perpendicular to the larger Rue Etienne Marcel, the store takes a real effort to find, as it has no display windows and only a subtly marked door.
But for Armand Hadida, the shop’s owner, secrecy and mystery are ideas he wanted to cultivate. “So much of what’s out there today in terms of shops is so similar,” he explained. “To do something different, I really had to go underground.”
The 2,800-square-foot shop is the fourth L’Eclaireur Hadida operates. There is also a unit on the Champs Elysees and two in the Marais district. Those shops are known as purveyors of avant-garde fashions and the new location raises the bar. “It’s all about the most inventive fashion,” Hadida said.
Comme des Garcons, Martin Margiela, Lutz, Viktor & Rolf and Dirk Schonberger are among the brands featured in the new store, whose interior, prominently featuring a large slated skylight, could be termed a mix of post-industrial and minimalist chic.
Dior, 30 Avenue Montaigne
Hedi Slimane, whose men’s wear for Dior Homme has earned a following among women, has unveiled another sharp corner of his modernist overhaul. The men’s boutique in Paris, part of the sprawling Avenue Montaigne Dior flagship, just reopened for business after extensive renovations. It won’t be entirely finished until mid-October, but already the space bears the strict geometry and heady minimalism that inform Slimane’s clothes and his studio up the road on Rue Francois Premier. The walls are gleaming white lacquer: a perfect foil for Slimane’s dark suits and sleek coats.
The store showcases the Christian Dior, 30 Avenue Montaigne label, aimed at a slightly more traditional and classic clientele, and offers a made-to-measure service. Some accessories are from the Dior Homme collection — the one shown on the runway — and, at press time, the house was mulling the possibility of adding some Dior Homme clothes.
Ultimately, the Dior Homme runway line is destined to get its own freestanding stores, starting with a Milan location bowing in January. Dior is zeroing in on a location for Paris with a target opening date set for next spring.
Roll out the zebra-print rugs: Roberto Cavalli has more than doubled the size of his Faubourg Saint-Honore shop here. The Italian firm, known for its exuberant designs, tacked on 2,100 square feet to its existing shop by commandeering the adjacent boutique that once housed Van Lack, a German ready-to-wear firm.
Italian architect Roberto Felleni joined the two shops by carving out a corridor on the second floor. The new, larger shop features the women’s line, while the existing 1,100-square-foot unit houses men’s wear.
For Maryse Poncin, who holds the Cavalli franchise in France, the expanded shop isn’t enough, though. “We could have a store three times as big as this one,” she said. “We can hardly keep up with business.”
Poncin, who declined to give sales projections, opened the Saint-Honore unit three years ago. She also operates a Cavalli boutique in Saint Tropez on the French Riviera.
This upscale British hippie brand, designed by Tiziano and Louis Mazzilli, has opened its first unit in Paris. The 2,500-square-foot boutique, which occupies the former Calvin Klein men’s store at 56 Avenue Montaigne, is a partnership with Alain Adjadj, the Paris-based entrepreneur who operates some 20 designer boutiques, including Dolce & Gabbana, in France and the U.K.
Like the original Voyage boutique in London, which requires membership to enter, customers have to ring to gain access to the store, which was designed by architect David Collins. But, in a more democratic vein, all who ring are allowed entry. French law precludes retailers from refusing clients, a point that has made Voyage notorious in London.
The store features the main Voyage collection line on the first floor as well as its less-expensive jeans line, which features pants and tops with embroideries and prints.