PARIS — Bulgari has refurbished its Place Vendôme flagship, bringing marble columns and towering stone vases from Italy to the famed sq. on the coronary heart of French luxurious.
“Whether you’re Italian or American, Place Vendôme resonates worldwide for clients as the pinnacle of high jewelry,” mentioned Bulgari chief govt officer Jean-Christophe Babin through a Zoom name.
“We’re bringing Rome to Paris,” mentioned Peter Marino, the architect behind the venture, who spoke to WWD from New York in a separate cellphone interview.
Babin famous that the sq.’s spiraled monument has an in depth connection to the Italian capital — launched by Napoleon I, it was long-established after Trajan’s Column in Rome.
“There’s a little bit of Italy right in the middle of Place Vendôme, and now I put a little bit of Italy — actually more than a little bit because we not only renovated the existing store, we…increased significantly in size, by about 50 percent,” mentioned Marino.
The retailer initially confronted the Rue des Capucines, however has been enlarged to stretch across the block, with a gap on the sq., at quantity 23. Another entrance was added on the perpendicular facade, nearer to the Rue des Capucines. It runs by two Seventeenth-century buildings — topic to strict guidelines from France’s historic monuments division in the case of renovations.
“We had a lot of requirements,” mentioned Marino, noting the sq. is “super protected.”
This was his eighth retailer refurbishment on the sq.; the architect is thought for his work with high-end labels. Future initiatives embody the Chanel retailer on the opposite facet of the sq., Dior’s Avenue Montaigne flagship, the Cheval Blanc Hotel at La Samaritaine in Paris and the Tiffany flagship in New York.
Visitors getting into the Bulgari retailer from the sq. are greeted by an arched hall, lined with a succession of marble columns. High jewellery is displayed right here, in circumstances lined with a golden-hued silk material, within the partitions and in lengthy, glass-covered counters with rounded stone edges. Small rooms and salons are tucked to the facet — one is embellished with a luxurious couch and matching chairs, whereas one other house is devoted to watches, which sit in tall show circumstances sitting on marble pedestals.
A spherical, domed room marks the transition to the remainder of the shop, its entrances marked with slabs of marble; the house dominated with a round marble desk and an enormous, ball-shaped chandelier, with glass spikes — Italian design from the final century.
Then comes the center of the shop, an open house that stretches to the ceiling of the ground above, served by a large entrance from the road. Ringed with marble columns, the house is stuffed with curved show tables fabricated from thick slabs of polished stone. Light streams in from the home windows of the higher degree, which is embellished with a pair of imposing pink stone vases hauled over from the label’s retailer in Rome.
“It took us a very long time getting proper permissions to put this there and the opening in so we could get some spacial excitement in the height,” remarked Marino, talking of the placement of the doorway and the open house created within the retailer.
A contemporary staircase constructed from suspended marble steps curves up on one facet, resulting in the ground above. Lining the stairway is a label signature, within the type of brass and stainless-steel mesh, drawn from a bracelet from the ’30s, and embellished with spherical decorations meant to evoke cabochon rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds.
The higher flooring affords a succession of rooms, furnished with placing classic furnishings, together with a curved Carlo de Carli desk, and the lengthy clean Osvaldo Borsani cupboard, which exactly matches the house between two doorways. There is house to show historic items, and one room has panels that open to disclose new jewellery. Downstairs is a bridal part and shelved partitions for equipment — purses and sun shades. Various artisans have been employed for the renovation work, which included intricate wooden marquetry and tiled star patterns on the flooring.
Artwork all through the shop consists of items by Nicolas Ruel, with photographs of Rome and marbled statues of gladiators, in addition to a few Andy Warhol works — one encompasses a determine in Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” Other Italian design items embody a pair of gilded Alessandro Mendini lamps and a big, trendy espresso desk by Gabriella Crespi.
“We buy both from dealers and from auctions whenever we see a great piece — there’s no particular story, I buy from wherever I see a very good piece,” mentioned Marino.
There was additionally lots of artwork introduced from the unique boutique in Rome.
The architect pushed the Italian spirit “to the max,” he mentioned, noting they introduced all the pieces however the pines of Rome — however hinting that at future occasions, “you might spot a few.”
Commenting on the marble stone work working all through the shop, he mentioned the combo was supposed to recall the unique Bulgari retailer within the Nineteen Thirties.
“We have quite a lot of wonderful marbles,” he mentioned.
Sourcing marble is a problem provided that many quarries are closed, he added, noting that he works with a girl from Torino who hunts for the fabric.
“You get one or two odd blocks…you get something that not everybody could come up with,” mentioned Marino.
“In a Peter Marino shop, you’re supposed to touch the walls and you’re supposed to be happy and feel transported — and by the way you’re supposed to buy terribly expensive jewelry for yourself,” he added.
Asked concerning the determination to place the excessive jewellery on the entrance on the sq., he mentioned all people visiting the shop ought to “experience the really luxury things, whether you can buy them or not,” he mentioned. “I’m old school and I imagine placing your finest foot ahead is all the time the best way to go in life for something.
“For me these are really all great works of art and to see them is a joy, so why bury them in the back the way some of the other brands do — I think that’s creepy,” he asserted.
Reflecting on how the disaster has affected the position of bodily retail areas, Marino struck a optimistic be aware.
“It’s been the best thing in the world for retail stores,” he mentioned.
“I think we’re going to have a trend of ‘I want reality now, enough of fake reality for 18 months,’” he mentioned, noting he agrees along with his spouse, who has mentioned she’d be completely satisfied to by no means to see one other Zoom video.
In Paris on Monday, Marino mentioned a girl informed him she felt like the shop had been there ceaselessly.
“That’s not really easy to achieve,” he mentioned, taking the remark as an indication he’d achieved his job efficiently, and noting he thought jewellery firms ought to go for timeless enchantment quite than observe style.
“I was really happy because I spent all day yesterday punch listing the job,” he smiled.
“Commercially speaking, it’s one of the best locations,” Babin added, however mentioned that actual gross sales figures are inconceivable to tally as a result of “everyone’s keeping it a secret.”
“I think in terms of image, in terms of sales, it’s crucial to be there,” the chief mentioned, including that one of the best names within the jewellery trade are situated on the Place Vendôme. The label can also be gearing as much as open a Bulgari Hotel within the French capital subsequent 12 months.
Babin mentioned with the disaster, the label has elevated its quantity of direct communications with shoppers. It started establishing a consumer relationship administration system round a decade in the past, actively increase a database of shoppers — each of vacationers and locals.
“The switch to one-to-one [communication] has been extremely productive, we are increasing business with locals at double-digit rates in all markets,” he mentioned, including the label has taken this method in the case of a wider vary of merchandise and equipment, together with merchandise priced within the 2,000 euro or 5,000 euro vary.
Asked when he expects tourism to renew, he pointed to vaccines.
“It will be vaccination-driven,” he predicted.
“What we lost on the one hand on travel retail, we have regained it — partially in some countries, totally in others — and globally more or less — by selling more locally,” he mentioned.
“People obviously are very hungry to socialize again, to discover again, to travel again, to get out again and to spend again,” noticed Babin.