Just a few weeks ago, French luxury fashion house Balmain opened its new flagship store on Paris’ Rue Saint-Honoré. We were invited to take an exclusive look inside the new retail location with Balmain’s Creative Director Olivier Rousteing and the store’s architects Studio AMV.
The two-story, 630-square-meter boutique is located on Rue Saint-Honoré, one of Paris’ most famous luxury shopping streets and a place of historic significance for the brand. Just a short distance away is 44 Rue François 1er where the brand’s founder, Pierre Balmain, opened his first atelier in 1945.
“I was really important to me to be on Rue Saint-Honoré,” explains Rousteing. “We kept Monsieur Balmain’s atelier and office on Rue François 1er but opened here to be more global, more international. It was a really big step for the brand. When I started working at Balmain eight and a half years ago, I would never have dreamed of it. We’ve achieved so much every season, it makes me really happy.”
Rousteing set the creative direction for the new flagships and tapped Parisian firm Studio AMV for the architecture and interior design. The studio’s previous projects include Rousteing’s own home and Balmain’s headquarters. Run by Victoire, Marie, and Anna, the all-female trio is an anomaly in the gendered world of architecture, making them a logical fit with the brand’s powerful “Balmain women”.
“The first time we met Olivier to talk about the new concept, we asked what the DNA of the brand and of the space should be. He replied ‘For me, Balmain is Paris’ so we had to find a way to translate Paris for the rest of the world, ” Marie explains.
Similarly to the guiding principals behind Balmain’s collections, the space needed to honor the brand’s singular heritage but speak to today’s generation in what Rousteing calls a “historic-modern duality”. Until recently, the luxury brand had a limited retail presence globally compared to other French fashion houses and the new store design will serve as a blueprint for future boutiques opening soon as part of the brand’s current international retail expansion. The goal, according to Victoire, is for Balmain customers anywhere in the world to feel as though they’re wandering through a Parisian apartment.
“We started researching Parisian living spaces and decided on 10 ‘forces’ that are typical of classic residences. Some of these are the parquet de Versaille, the grand chandelier, the cabochon tiles, the curtains, the moldings, and the interior garden,” explains Anna. “We wanted to take these classical elements and then trace them in a more modern way.”
Recalling a Parisian luxurious apartment, the boutique features several rooms, each of which houses a different collection. Wander through the bibliotheque to see the season’s hero styles and bags, the salon de jeux (complete with gambling table) to browse accessories, or the boudoir for footwear. The reasoning behind the design is to give the customer a sense of ease and intimacy as they would feel in their own home.
“Our design focus on Paris makes this Saint-Honoré opening a sort of homecoming,” Rousteing said. “Since we first began working on the concept, I couldn’t wait to bring it back here, back to the city that inspired every square inch of the interior. When I started this role nine years ago, Balmain was really a Parisian brand. Today I can say it is a Parisian brand with a strong international vision.”
374 Rue Saint-Honoré
Now, read about Balmain’s latest menswear collection, here.