French President Emmanuel Macron joined LVMH owner Bernard Arnault on Monday to inaugurate the La Samaritaine department store, marking the culmination of a 16-year renovation process. La Samaritaine was finally due to open in April 2020, but the COVID-19 crisis added another delay.
The hotel, due to open on September 7th, is located in an Art Deco building overlooking the Seine river, while the department store occupies a fully renovated Art Nouveau edifice, inaugurated in 1910, in addition to a new building with a wavy facade on Rue de Rivoli, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architecture firm Sanaa.
Eleonore de Boysson, region president Europe and Middle East at DFS Group, is confident it will transform the area. “One of La Samaritaine’s major assets is its location between the Louvre and Notre-Dame de Paris, in the Pont-Neuf neighborhood, which has been totally revamped. The Rue de la Monnaie has been pedestrianized. The Place de la Samaritaine is completely new,”
With 12 on-site dining options, she hopes the department store will also become a hub for nearby office workers. “One of the primary objectives of our food offer is to make this a destination for locals, and not just in the evening,” she said. “We’ve been careful to ensure that prices are extremely reasonable so that people come here for lunch.”
La Samaritaine is relatively small by Parisian department store standards, with just 215,000 square feet of selling space. By comparison, Printemps has almost 485,000 square feet at its flagship on Boulevard Haussmann, while the main Galeries Lafayette store totals 754,000 square feet.
A soaring glass ceiling overlooks a criss-crossing elevator bank that recalls LVMH’s Left Bank institution, Le Bon Marché. The roof is equipped with electro-chrome glass by Saint-Gobain that turns blue to filter heat and UV rays during hot weather.
The store does not have a food hall, wine cellar or home wares. Instead, it is banking on a curated selection of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, accessories, and watches and jewelry; women’s shoes; a gift store, and continental Europe’s biggest beauty floor – all spread over seven floors in the main building.
The concept is a playful take on the French art de vivre, with a mix of leading luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine and Tiffany & Co., and smaller brands like Ganni, Isabel Marant, Wandler and Casablanca.
Loulou, the 2,150-square-foot concept store on the ground floor, faces the Pont-Neuf bridge and offers more than 1,500 objects ranging from inexpensive trinkets to souvenir merchandise, high-tech gadgets and even a Samaritaine-branded bicycle. Visitors are encouraged to snap selfies in a window decor inspired by a Parisian cafe.
The three-story building on Rue de Rivoli targets a Millennial audience with a mix of clothing, food, art and streetwear. Exclusives include Shinzo Green, a space curated by French sneaker retailer Shinzo that focuses on sustainable shoes, and a pop-up store curated by gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin.
In addition to restoring the spectacular gold-hued peacock mural on the fifth floor, which will house Voyage, a sprawling restaurant and bar featuring a rotating cast of top chefs, La Samaritaine has invited street artists Antonin Hako, Antwan Horfee and Pablo Tomek to customize the walls of its Factory space for the opening.
Dining options include a healthy eatery called Parisienne, developed by Maison Plisson founder Delphine Plisson; Zinc, a café run by coffee roastery La Brûlerie des Gobelins; Street Caviar, an exclusive concept by Maison Prunier with light bites including a caviar sandwich; and Ernest, a bakery with an adjoining brasserie featuring a menu by “Top Chef” winner Naoëlle d’Hainaut.
The store is dotted with corners dedicated to LVMH-owned wines and spirits brands, including Champagne house Ruinart and cognac maker Hennessy, offering personalized packaging.
A 330-foot moving walkway, surrounded by video screens recounting the history of the store, connects the nearby underground car park to the basement-level beauty floor, which houses a Cinq Mondes Spa and a clean beauty studio. A dedicated 3,200-square-foot space will greet tour groups as they disembark.
Design agency Atelieramo sourced an eclectic array of vintage and designer furniture for the apartment-style V.I.P. space on the first floor, which also features art works by five artists in residence at the LVMH Métiers d’Art workshops. The space will host personal shopping services and press events, among others.
Canadian firm Yabu Pushelberg, which has created interiors for Printemps and Lane Crawford, designed all the interiors of the Pont-Neuf building, with the exception of the basement, with terrazzo floors that echo Parisian paving stones. The beauty department is the work of French architect Hubert de Malherbe, while French agency Ciguë was in charge of the trendy Rivoli building.
More than 1,500 people will work at the department store, including 700 DFS staff, 700 concession and restaurant employees, and 150 outside contractors for cleaning and security. The Cheval Blanc hotel will employ 400 people, and the building will also house the new headquarters of French fragrance and beauty house Guerlain.
The store will actually open its doors on June 23rd, 2021
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