The Left Bank bastion of chic’s ongoing, multi-million Euro beautification programme shows no signs of slowing down. Firstly, the men’s store expanded to occupy the entire basement, and this was followed by an end-to-end renovation of the landmark gourmet grocer, La Grande Épicerie, which included the addition of a commodious new cave à vin, complete with a bar, and an atrium restaurant.
Recently, the Parisian institution has unveiled the spectacular new Le Soulier shoe salon and an expanded version of its homeware store, Bon Marché Maison.
Enlarged beyond its longtime premises in the main store, Bon Marché Maison now occupies two light-flooded circular floors above the Épicerie, which were opened up during the renovations, to free up space so that the women’s collections could join each other under one roof. The homeware collections encompass everything from contemporary and classic furniture to linens, tableware, cookware, lighting and bedding – in fact, everything required to provide your home with an unmistakably French sense of élan.
Shimmering like a 1,850sqm oasis under the Gustave Eiffel-designedglass roof, with its ceiling motifs by René Lalique, the new Le Soulier shoe salon means that Le Bon Marché can now compete with Paris’s other major department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, both of which have expanded their rayon chaussures within the last five years.
The Le Soulier salon wins the contest hands down. Bright, sumptuously appointed and well-conceived, the space is divided into several sections. The central, glassed-in “winter garden” is where Chanel, Dior, Prada, and Roger Vivier can be found, and this area is surrounded by the work of other crème de la crème names, including Céline, Valentino, Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo and Sergio Rossi. Pop-up stores provide surprise discoveries and feature smaller craft designers, such as Francesco Russo, the Artistic Director for Dior, and Malone Souliers, whose vertiginous stilettos can be made-to-measure.
The surrounding “amphitheatre” features the wares of a lengthy list of designers we’ve come to know and love – including Chloé, Lanvin, Proenza Schouler, Givenchy, Pierre Hardy, Tabitha Simmons – plus a hand-picked selection of worthy newcomers, such as London-based Sophia Webster with her beguiling, flight-of-fancy creations.
Meanwhile, the “cathedral of light” area, which is aptly named as much worship will doubtless be happening there, features a spectacular group of designs which were made exclusively for Le Bon Marché, by labels that even dedicated footwear afi cionados may not be familiar with, including Chiara Ferrangni, Markus Lupfer, Opening Ceremony and Repetto. This section also features urban-chic designs by more established brands, including Play Comme des Garçons and the fabulous Brazilian ‘eco project’ Twins for Peace (who donate shoes to “a child in need” for every pair sold), plus major designers’ capsule collections for such sporting labels as Adidas, Golden Goose and New Balance.
A glassed-in workshop space with a more unisex vibe features the peerless work of such master craftsmen as Clergerie, Ferragamo, Fratelli Rossetti, Sartore and Weston. The bespoke services are also situated here– shoe tattooing, anyone? – alongside some wonderful, traditionally French shoe-care products by Mulard.
Those who ‘want it all’ under one stupendous roof should shed their stilettos and run – not walk – to this glorious salon.
Le Bon Marché, 24 rue de Sèvres, Paris 7th. Tel: +33 1 44 39 80 00
From France Today magazine
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