There is no other place on the planet where you can recline in an onyx marble bathtub, get your face painted, have a meal, order custom-made garments, and visit a museum – all in the same place.
All of these services will be available in Dior’s iconic flagship store at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, which is slated to reopen on Sunday after more than two years of refurbishment.
According to Pietro Beccari, chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture, “It’s not just a flagship – it’s a whole universe that we show to the world.” “In actuality, we should come up with a new name for it since it’s a complex that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, and it’s a very obvious point that will distinguish us from our competition.”
The structure, which is over 108,000 square feet in size, holds the largest store of the French luxury brand in the world, as well as La Galerie de Dior, the world’s largest permanent exhibition space devoted to fashion in the hands of a private individual or family. It is home to changing exhibits and historically conserved locations, such as the old office of Christian Dior’s creator, among other things.
The haute couture ateliers, which have been housed in the building since Dior opened it in December 1946, just weeks before showing his debut collection and introducing the groundbreaking New Look, are also housed there as well.
High jewelry workshop, where consumers may have precious stones placed on custom-designed items, will be added to their lineup for the first time this year. Meanwhile, the ancient salon, which was the site of the first fashion displays, will now be used for banquets and other special occasions.
In addition, 30 Montaigne is home to the Monsieur Dior restaurant as well as a Dior pastry café, all of which are set in an atrium area surrounded by towering tropical trees and a bed of blooming flowers. Both establishments are overseen by French chef Jean Imbert, who also manages the Café Dior, which is located next to the art gallery.
Beauty treatments can be found in an alcove dedicated to the building’s name, and last but not least is La Suite Dior, a private apartment whose keys give guests access to the entire building and its dedicated staff of six to eight people who are on call around the clock and include chefs, personal shoppers, and other staff members.
If you wake up because you’re jet-lagged and feel like heading to the museum in your bathrobe, you will be allowed to do so, according to Beccari. “There will always be someone awake,” says the author. It fascinates me to consider the possibility that 30 Montaigne would never sleep.”
Paul Cocksedge created a suspended installation in the store’s entrance rotunda that looks like falling paper leaves. Isa Genzken’s 26-foot-tall rose sculpture towers over the store’s circular staircase in the center, and the project was overseen by architect Peter Marino, who crammed original artwork into every square inch of available space.
According to Marino, in an email interview, “I’ve never worked on such a complicated building project during a global epidemic.” It is made up of more than 100 different materials, which range from white stucco textures to custom-embroidered silks and cerused oaks. He collaborated with Belgian landscape architect Peter Wirtz on the three gardens that are scattered around the area.
One of the most fascinating features of the Avenue Montaigne project, according to him, is that it will take visitors on a trip through the brand’s core essence — which will be reflected via the architecture, interior design, and experience provided by each place.
“Rather than a single concept running throughout, walk-through areas that tell a narrative to keep the client engaged and emotionally linked with Dior from beginning to end. Creating settings that enable customers to discover the brand in a beautiful, engaging, and pleasant manner is important to us,” Marino said.
Beccari said that he came up with the concept inside the first 100 days of his employment at Dior in 2018. His presentation to Bernard Arnault, chairman, and CEO of parent firm LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, was understandably nerve-wracking, given that it included not only shutting the brand’s flagship store but also temporarily transferring the couture workshop.
Mr. Arnault was “a little crazy,” said the Italian executive, “but you know, I think I finally met Mr. Arnault that not a lot of people know, the one who is not really so rational and calculated in every move, but someone who is able to envision something and clearly decide with his stomach, with his intuition.”
And he did, he said. “I was fortunate in that he saw the vision and understood it, and he followed me,” he said. “I must say that now when we look back on it, we are both very, very pleased with what we accomplished,” he said.
In the words of Dior himself, the salon was a “refuge of the fantastic.” This is the same location where he launched his first store, Colifichets, which sold presents and decorative goods for the house. Nowadays, there isn’t much that the Dior boutique doesn’t have to offer, from purses in exotic skins to tuxedos built to order, in addition to the whole range of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories that the house is known for.
Across from a specially commissioned 10-foot-wide video work of flowers in motion by media artist Jennifer Steinkamp, women’s footwear is on show, while evening shoes are housed in a wood-paneled alcove with a marble fireplace and a crystal chandelier. Personalization options for bags, shoes, and eyeglasses are available, as is a knitwear-specific portion of the store.
There is a 15-foot-high ceiling in the VIP men’s area, which has Kim Jones’ creations on display. Among its attractions are a wall adorned with white canvas “toiles” mounted on dressmakers’ forms, which leads to a winter garden with a colorful steel sculpture by John Chamberlain, as well as comfortable couches and exotic plants.
In response to inflationary pressures, Dior increased prices globally by an average of 8% on January 18, a decision that underlines the luxury industry’s strong pricing strength after a record year for several brands. And the house plainly feels that money isn’t an issue, as Beccari refused to disclose the cost of a stay in La Suite Dior, despite repeated requests. “If you call and make a reservation, you will find out,” he replied.
He would not rule out the possibility of building such multiuse flagships elsewhere in the future, a sign of the brand’s tremendous momentum. According to him, “we did not embark on this project with the intention of completing a succession of similar initiatives.” “So let’s see how it works, and if we have an acceptable amount of room and observe that the product performs really well in Paris, the response is: why not?” says the author.