Dark Shadows – Saint Laurent Rive Droite
Saint Laurent's innovative retail experience continues to expand
It should really be noted – for those that don’t already know – that it was Yves Saint Laurent, among the all the famous couturiers of his time, who was the first to bring high fashion to the ‘masses’ in 1966 when he opened up Saint Laurent Rive Gauche to sell his ready-to-wear collections in Paris. The name of the boutique simply referred to its location (on the ‘left bank’ of the River Seine) and it was such a success further branches followed soon thereafter in New York and London. Far beyond being just another shop, this marked the advent of a new era of retail for fashion houses and designers. Now there were new markets to build and, for the new ready-to-wear venture to really take hold, there had to be even more to capture the public’s imagination than just the clothes on the hanger. This is when store design and the customer experience began to rise in the priorities of fashion companies all over the world.
Today, of course, the modern retail experience is a high-tech creatively driven business in and of itself. You only have to look at the cutting edge eco-space Stella McCartney recently launched for her boutique in central London to see how important the customer experience is to businesses these days. But when you’re the originator there’s always an extra added edge to remaining at the top of the game.
Earlier this summer, Saint Laurent took over the famous Collette store in Paris to launch Saint Laurent Rive Droite (a name that should really need no explanation) to much fanfare and to new possibilities. Billed as more of a ‘lifestyle experience’ than a clothes boutique, the space-age environment features a library, vintage furniture, a café and exhibition space. “A destination for creativity and culture,” is how Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello himself describes it.
As if to underline that ethos, Vaccarello and Saint Laurent have just announced a new exhibition to be shown at Rive Droite called Dark Shadows, a collection of black and white photographs, artworks and sculptures to be shown in conjunction with White Cube Gallery until December. Coincidentally enough, part of the exhibition includes a collection of three polaroid pictures taken by artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who we have already touched on as part of another cultural milestone this week, along with his former girlfriend, Patti Smith, here. Other works by artists like Richard Serra, Ed Ruscha and Sterling Ruby will also be displayed throughout the store. Naturally, pictures will never do them justice so if you’re going to be in Paris before Christmas you’ll know where to go to get the real experience.
Dark Shadows, in conjunction with White Cube, is on at Saint Laurent Rive Droite, 213 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France until December. Click here for more information.
Click here for our last feature on Saint Laurent.