The exceptional retail experiences offered by Paris’s most beautiful boutiques show how stores can charm clients away from online shopping. From exclusive items and product launches to in-store events and even restaurants, these boutiques take shopping to the next level, offering experiences you simply cannot find online
The popularity of online shopping has dented the supremacy of the bricks-and-mortar store – yet it is impossible to put a price on the experience of visiting Paris’s most spectacular boutiques. No computer screen can convey the feel of an exclusive garment, the aroma of a bespoke scent or the marvel of leather being worked into a beautiful piece of luggage before your very eyes.
No computer screen can convey the feel of an exclusive garment, the aroma of a bespoke scent or the marvel of leather being worked into a beautiful piece of luggage before your very eyes
Increasingly, it’s this immersive element that brands must incorporate into their stores to give the consumer added value on their shopping trip. Whether this takes the form of unmissable exhibitions and thrilling product launches to attract visitors, or a boutique with a space dedicated to showcasing the brand’s artisanship to a discerning clientele, Paris’s most appealing flagships are finding new and intriguing ways to charm visitors through their doors.
Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme, which opened towards the end of 2017, heralds the return of the storied French brand to its spiritual home. In 1854, trunk-maker extraordinaire Louis Vuitton opened his first store at 4 rue Neuve-des-Capucines, just moments from the celebrated place Vendôme. Among the 340 trunk makers working in the city, it was Vuitton who caught the eye of Empress Eugénie, the first in a long line of celebrated clients, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
The two elegant former townhouses that now comprise the boutique were conceived by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who also designed the palace of Versailles. Architect Peter Marino, a favourite among luxury brands, has returned the interiors to their former glory, restoring the five-metre-high ceilings on the first floor. Art lovers will admire the 32 handpicked artworks on display, many especially commissioned for this grande dame of boutiques.
Across the four floors of Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme, visitors can discover the brand’s full product portfolio, from ready-to-wear to haute joaillerie, interior design items and leather goods, allowing all those who enter to immerse themselves in the world of Louis Vuitton. In addition, Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme offers a selection of beautiful products that will delight brand aficionados – examples include the 1.45-metre made-to-order high-jewellery trunk or the truly spectacular Tambour Moon Tourbillon Volant Poinçon de Genève watch.
VIP clients can retire to the Appartement area to view Louis Vuitton’s offering in complete privacy. If this isn’t enough to entice customers, the store is also home to two ateliers which highlight the brand’s extraordinary levels of craftsmanship. Gemstone connoisseurs can marvel at the high jewellery workshop, while the Atelier Rare & Exceptionnel allows elite clients to preview remarkable pieces and have these adapted to their specific requirements by the house’s exacting artisans.
Perfume house Guerlain, another time-honoured French brand with roots in place Vendôme, also opened a store in the area in late 2017, at 356 rue Saint-Honoré. The boutique is home to a fragrance library of 110 scents and a ‘perfume organ’ that provides visitors with a digital consultation, allowing them to create their own individual fragrance profile. Bespoke fragrances can be made here, with customisable bottles giving guests the opportunity to pick their preferred packaging.
For those simply looking to replace a favourite Guerlain fragrance, the in-store perfume fountains let customers refill their bee bottles (the design used by the house since 1853), reducing waste and helping the environment. Guerlain’s Iris Ganache perfume, conceived by Thierry Wasser in 2007, was exclusively reissued at the rue Saint-Honoré boutique. Fragrance devotees will be rewarded for stepping away from their laptops and into this elite scent emporium.
Guerlain’s Paris flagship on the Champs-Élysées is similarly captivating and incorporates a spectacularly designed store – Peter Marino’s handiwork once again – as well as L’Institut Guerlain spa and Le 68 Guy Martin restaurant. Once you have your personalised fragrance from the rue Saint-Honoré branch, come here for a Made to Measure treatment and a delicious dinner.
Kenzo was more recently established than the Vuitton and Guerlain powerhouses, and its latest Parisian outpost, located in the Marais district, targets the trend-conscious younger clients who have snapped up the label’s logo jumpers and Kalifornia bags in their droves. The space aims to tap into the desires of a new generation by offering something unique, new and different – a curated edit of Kenzo clothing unlike that in any of the brand’s other stores. Fans can also purchase vintage Kenzo pieces here, as well as items from the archive-inspired La Collection Memento capsule range. In addition, a space at the front of the shop hosts exhibitions, product launches and events.
Louis Vuitton, Guerlain and Kenzo are not the only names to prove that the store can still trump the screen – if you are seeking a truly Parisian shopping experience, step away from your computer and discover the magical world of the city’s best boutiques.