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PARIS — In his inimitable on-my-own-terms way, Azzedine Alaïa has opened a three-story boutique a stone’s throw from Paris’ most famous luxury strip, the Avenue Montaigne.
Housed in an 18th-century mansion at 5 Rue de Marignan, the store boasts no window displays and a minimalist, futuristic decor worthy of a science-fiction film.
The boutique opened quietly over the weekend for press tours, but the first two women to cross the threshold were shoppers, either curious or eagle-eyed, having spied Alaïa’s name etched into the pale stone. (They left with a pair of shoes.)
The designer tapped many of his design and artist buddies for the project: Marc Newson for UFO-like circular light fixtures; Martin Szekely for angular racks anchored in the floors, and Kris Ruhs for a chandelier of brushed steel garlands that dominates the coiling, four-story marble staircase.
RELATED STORY: Azzedine Alaïa Retrospective Opens in Paris >>
The gallery-like space is also appointed with blue-chip vintage design, including a hulking Charlotte Perriand table and modular shelves, serpentine couches and “cathedral” tables by Pierre Paulin. There are also two abstract paintings by Christoph von Weyhe.
“He started looking for a boutique on Avenue Montaigne and we ended up here,” said his friend and business adviser Carla Sozzani, the Milan retailer behind 10 Corso Como. “Azzedine wanted to keep the feeling of a maison. He wanted to keep the feeling of Rue de Moussy.”
Sozzani was referring to Alaïa’s original Paris boutique in the Marais district, shielded behind a big red door that buzzes open for private clients. That unit, housed within Alaïa’s sprawling headquarters and dating back to 1990, is to remain open in a building that will eventually become the designer’s foundation, Sozzani noted.
Compagnie Financière Richemont took a majority stake in Alaïa in 2007, and funded the new retail venture. The fourth floor of the 14,000-square-foot building is to house Alaïa’s accounting, administration and finance departments.
While best known for his curve-enhancing dresses and tailoring, Alaïa devoted the main floor of the new shop to accessories — shoes to the right and handbags and small leather goods to the left. Flat screens embedded in one window broadcast saturated images of Alaïa fashions.
The shoe salon leads to a courtyard appointed with marble tables by Angelo Mangiarotti and chairs by Harry Bertoia, from which visitors can gaze up at a vegetal wall by Patrick Blanc.
Ready-to-wear is featured on the two upper floors: daywear on two and evening-oriented fare on three. Spacious fitting rooms boast the same Szekely racks and Newson light rings as the sales floor.
It’s been a busy Paris Fashion Week for the Tunisian-born designer, who is the subject of a sprawling retrospective that just opened at Palais Galliera and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Order taking for his spring collection is to start Friday, two days after Paris Fashion Week officially closes.