PARIS — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Charles Dickens wrote, and such a paradox aptly characterize Paris’ beauty retail scene of today.
The bad retail news was that stores in the French capital — like everywhere else in the world — have been open and shut accordion-style numerous times over during the past two years, due to the coronavirus pandemic that keeps raging on.
And yet, new formats featuring all categories of beauty are increasingly popping up around the city.
Bâton Rouge — a purveyor of made-to-measure lipstick — recently opened in the Marais neighborhood. Also there, Korres established a new retail location, and down the street Maison Berger set up shop. Nearby, the MarocMaroc brand is operating an ephemeral boutique boasting a treatment room.
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Also on the Right Bank, Galeries Lafayette department store debuted La Hair Galerie, while Cible Skin set up a medical-aesthetic center and Vilhelm Parfumerie, its first freestanding store. And that’s just mentioning a few concepts.
“It’s so encouraging to see that Paris is at the center of retail innovation,” said Leïla Rochet-Podvin, founder and chief executive officer of trends and consulting agency Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation. “With reduced numbers of tourists in the capital, these new spaces address more specifically the needs of a French consumer, and [nod] to the reputation of Paris being one of the most interesting beauty hubs in the world.”
Even if beauty e-tail sales shot up by a remarkable 43 percent between February 2020 and February 2021, according to the NPD Group, consumers in France still love a real-life shopping experience.
“French people have always been seduced by a holistic approach to beauty. They have a ‘gourmet’ approach to the categories — fragrance, makeup or skin care,” continued Rochet-Podvin. “At the same time, these new spaces attract consumers in search of a wellness environment. They are often what we call ‘slow retail’ spaces, where consumers can take time — like [a ‘stroll’] — and have a more sensorial experience that is not available online.”
She said stores such as the multibrand Loox Concept Store and Bâton Rouge give “a more intimate approach to retail, escaping from a ‘mercantile’ spirit.” Rochet-Podvin called them “a space of discovery or even education.”
Jody Israelsky, principal at Think New Retail, highlighted Korres as having educative boutiques. In its new Marais shop, for instance, there is signage related to the brand’s heritage.
“The Marais, over the last few years, has been a chosen destination for a host of beauty brands,” she said. Already, a stretch of the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois is packed with those.
Nearby is the Rue Vieille du Temple, where Korres is located. It joins the likes of Horace and L:A Bruket, opened there in 2020, and the Maison Berger, specialized in home fragrances, which sprang up one month ago.
“If you look at Vilhelm Parfumerie, by virtue of its location in the Golden Triangle, on Rue François 1er, there is the connotation of luxury, as this is where the major luxury brands are located in Paris,” continued Israelsky. “It sets the tone for the product.”
Looking ahead, she sees an increase of experiential retail. “More and more retail brands are using their store locations to enhance the customer experience,” she said. “Their brand is also a lifestyle.”
Here, some of the newest beauty openings in the City of Light.
La Hair Galerie at Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
Hair care is beauty’s new darling, and Galeries Lafayette has taken note. The French department store recently launched La Hair Galerie, a corner in its Parisian Boulevard Haussmann flagship that’s crafted to become a mecca of premium luxury hair care. The 160-square-foot space is located on the store’s ground floor. There, La Hair Galerie’s neon sign atops a six-tier pink shelving unit chockablock with white-glove products formulated to clean, style and otherwise beautify tresses. (Think: Color Wow, Christophe Robin, David Mallett, Davines, GHD, Leonor Greyl, Moroccanoil, Olaplex, Oribé, Ouai Haircare, Hair Rituel by Sisley and Virtue.) A GHD counter is up front and backed by a hair station, to be used for a diagnostic service and brand styling events once sanitary conditions allow. Lucia Ruas de Sousa, senior beauty buyer at Galeries Lafayette, explained that the idea for the gallery bubbled from a confluence of factors. The store, which has long carried hair care, was the leading selective retail player for the category in France. “We already had a good base of offers that we really wanted to expand, [and] linked to the context of COVID-19, there was very clearly a strong acceleration in sales in this hair care category,” she continued. “We said to ourselves: ‘There is indeed an opportunity to seize.’”
Cible Skin La Maison de la Peau, 31 Rue François 1er, 75008
Raphaël Aknin, a founder of Cible Skin La Maison de la Peau who’s a doctor in pharmacy, developed skin immunity techniques while working with skin cancer. “It is this research that inspired [us] to work in the medical field here with doctors at the center, but also on a range of technical cosmetics that is revolutionary,” said Jean Ginefri, the medical-aesthetic center’s other founder. He explained that the 20-unit retail product line with cleaning, care and cure products, will be patented and then launched in April. For their conception, a medical committee linked to the center analyzed data from 6,000 faces over three years. Ginefri said Cible Skin will contain the most active ingredients in its products of any brand, and those products will be 100 percent clean. Cible Skin’s elegant two-story, 3,230-square-foot Maison de la Peau officially opened doors in June 2021. Doctors there use high-tech machines from South Korea for diagnoses and to track skin’s progress. Made-to-measure treatments focus on care and cures for faces, body and hair. The center has six treatment rooms. Elsewhere, Maisons de la Peau are scheduled to open in Shanghai and Tokyo in 2024, and New York in 2025.
Vilhelm Parfumerie, 58 Rue Pierre Charron, 75008
Vilhelm Parfumerie, the niche perfumery brand launched by Swede Jan Vilhelm Ahlgren in 2015, welcomed the public to its first boutique this summer. “What did I want? Something so warm and so inviting,” said Ahlgren, adding his retail concept, which is saturated in saffron yellow, should capture everything about the brand. “Inspiration is taken from the ’20s, Art Deco and Bauhaus. The inspiration was Pierre Cardin stepping on a spaceship in the 1920s and then taking off. I narrowed it down to basically ‘Space Odyssey,’ the movie, and then creating something out from that. It’s really taking something from the past and making something new.” He said a sense of humor was also thrown into the mix. The floor of the 375-square-foot boutique is laid with brushed aluminum rather than wood, there are vegan leather panels lining walls and upside-down bottles second as a chandelier. “I really wanted it to be a little jewelry store in Paris — but for perfume,” he said. Architect Brieuc Larsonneur worked with Ahlgren on the concept. Since the Paris boutique’s debut, a Vilhelm Parfumerie has opened another shop in Bodrum, Turkey, and a third is slated for Moscow sometime between spring and summer of this year.
Loox Concept Store, 15 Rue Vignon, 75008
Products from niche brands such as Nuori, Raha, Solaris Laboratories, Ren Clean Skincare, Allies of Skin, Agent Nateur, Susanne Kaufmann, Augustinus Bader and Evolve Organic Beauty are found on the shelves of the Loox Concept Store, not far from the Galeries Lafayette. Its mission is to celebrate beauty of all ages and promote self-acceptance. Here, people can have their skin diagnosed to create beauty routines and try out products. The store — which measures 320 square feet and has a 160-square-foot treatment room — opened in August 2020, after having first launched online in October 2019. For each sale rung up by Loox, 1 euro is donated to the Léa Solidarité Femme association, which supports women who are victims of violence.
La Station by The Different Company, 10 Rue Ferdinand Duval, 75004
“The idea is very simple; we are at the heart of Paris, and instead of just having one brand to present to our customers, why not invite other brands that are French, independent and want to make a difference in the field that they’re working in?” said Luc Gabriel, CEO and owner of The Different Company. So between lockdowns, in October 2020, he shifted the 430-square-foot store in the Marais from selling solely The Different Company products into being a multibrand retailer. Walk in, and on the right-hand side are French, independent, organic cosmetic brands. There’s Atelier Populaire with its soaps and pure oils, EQ with eco-designed wellness products inspired by surfing, Z&MA with its “green beauty essentials,” as well as Marilou Bio and Avril cosmetics. On the left-hand side find fragrances from The Different Company with a refill station, Wide Society, Cherigan — a perfume brand dating back to 1929 that was just relaunched a few weeks ago by Gabriel, Le Galion, Nout and Nolença.
Bâton Rouge, 50 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003
Bâton Rouge, the luxury made-to-measure, eco-friendly lipstick brand, opened the doors of its first shop in early December 2021. There, makeup artists help people create their dream lipstick — either a new hue, one that resembles an old favorite or goes with an outfit or fashion accessory. Once a color is chosen using a combination of five pigments and four toners, the texture is picked, with matte, satin or natural options for the rechargeable lipsticks. On offer are also gloss or liquid matte textures for the fluid versions. (All formulas are rich in castor oil.) A fragrance can be added — or none at all. Then in the laboratory at the back of the boutique, visible through a big window, the formula is put into a speed mixer and the material is heated up. For lipsticks, the bulk is poured into a metal mold made especially for the brand, while the glosses are poured directly into containers. Typically, the sessions take about a half hour, with prices ranging from 30 euros to 40 euros. However, reproducing an old lipstick can take more time. Reservations can be made through the brand’s website, but walk-ins are welcome depending on availability. “There is a search for experience, personalization, made-to-measure — for knowledge about how a product is made and composed. We have that transparency, because we make [products] in front of the clients,” said Océane Decourty, store manager. “We’re very close to them.”
MarocMaroc, 11 Rue des Archives, 75004
MarocMaroc is a pop-up opened a month ago, which showcases products with rituals and ingredients — such as orange blossom and rose — nodding to Morocco. The 20-unit line, which is distributed in spas and luxury hotels, among other beauty sellers, is divided into numerous segments, including the hammam line, the cocooning and refreshing line, and the hair line. There is also a treatment room, where clients can choose from a menu of three options: an hour-long revitalizing facial for 90 euros, a 60-minute ceremonial body massage for 120 euros and a 50-minute “awakening of the senses” body massage for 110 euros. The pop-up is due to close March 2, but MarocMaroc plans to relocate full-time to another shop in the Marais.
Maison Berger, 75 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
In December 2021, Maison Berger — known for its home fragrances — inaugurated a sprawling store in the Marais, after shuttering its shop near the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The new location of approximately 1,000-square-feet sells a wide selection of the brand’s offer. That includes diffusers created collaboratively with Lolita Lempicka, candles made by Devineau, which the house acquired in 2019, and the Aroma collection. Central to the selection are the slow-burning, fragranced “lamps” made by the late Maurice Berger to destroy undesirable odors while perfuming interiors. He patented those “lampes Berger” in 1898. At the back of the boutique stands a fragrance bar, where people can take whiffs of various aromas infused in ceramic bells.
Korres, 76 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
Korres opened its second Paris boutique in the Marais in mid-November 2021, some eight years after the Greek brand’s first store, on the Left Bank. Georges Bakas, who heads Korres in France, noted the neighborhood is important for French and international clients. The bright, 430-square-foot boutique stocks a wide selection of the brand’s 280 units from floor to ceiling. They’re divided into categories, such as hair care, sun care, olive, body care and fragrance. Soon-to-arrive signage will outline Korres’ focus on sustainability, which Bakas described as a long-standing, virtuous circle. “Our raison d’être is nature and the earth,” he explained. To wit, in 2020 Korres established a laboratory for recycling things made by the brand. Now, its paper shopping bags are created from some of those recycled materials, for instance. On another wall in the Paris store will hang information about the brand’s history and also a map of Greece showing where Korres works with familial cooperatives to cull natural ingredients. Nine more stores like this should open in the next two years, of which five will be in Paris and four elsewhere in France.
For more, see:
Galeries Lafayette Names Arthur Lemoine Director of Buying Division
Vilhelm Parfumerie Ramps Up Expansion