Last Thursday Ralph Lauren opened his largest European flagship in Paris on famed Left Bank boulevard Saint-Germain. Determined to be one of the first to see the store, I braved the crowd on Saturday to witness the 23,000 square-foot flagship set in a 17th-century townhouse.
Just over 2 years ago, I recall visiting Sonia Rykiel’s store on boulevard Saint-Germain after a massive re-vamp, and being impressed by the glossy displays and mirrors everywhere. Fast-forward to Ralph’s new flagship next door and I have to say the American designer really has the most impressive presence on the Left Bank – and I am exactly not of the Ralph fan club.
On to Ralph’s 5-floor flagship. I’m calling it a masterpiece because it is absolutely GORGEOUS. While I can’t tell you the difference between Black Label and Blue Label, the store was so stunning from a visual merchandising point of view that one could not help but be awed amidst the men’s, women’s and accessories collections. After climbing the winding staircase a few floors, you become familiar with the intimate format, generally 2 grand rooms with merchandise and beautiful displays (some dripping with chandeliers) and then accessories in a little nook and a discreet cashier’s desk on each floor. This is not just another flagship, it’s an EXPERIENCE. Every room transports you to a different place, from a yacht club in Nantucket to a Colorado ranch where RRL denim was positioned.
While I was there, Ralph and his wife Ricky were brunching in the flagship’s restaurant called Ralph’s, which is housed in the cobblestone courtyard, bien sûr. I’ve heard they serve hamburgers from cows from the Lauren’s Colorado ranch. Ain’t that America.