Paris has a new department store to wow international tourists—when they eventually return to the French capital, that is. La Samaritaine opened its doors on Wednesday, and owner, luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has promised a retail emporium with a concept store feel. One of its major attractions is the biggest beauty area in Europe where some perfumes retail for €300,000.
The whole basement floor covering 3,400 square meters is dedicated to the category, and LVMH-owned travel retailer DFS Group, which is running the entire store, has selected 200 brands to fill it. Natural light filters down from the glass roof of the seven-story building, and from large skylights.
The mix is broad: on the Pont-Neuf side of the building you can find international luxury names like Dior, Chanel, and Guerlain in a Parisian setting designed by Hubert de Malherbe to reflect Samaritaine’s Art Nouveau origins; or go to the Rue de Rivoli side for trendy and unisex brands including Aesop, The Ordinary, and Le Labo in the Pure Beauty area, an urban setting conceived by Cigüe combining waxed concrete, metallic furniture, and natural materials like wood.
The 16-year project from LVMH establishes a new retail landmark in the heart of Paris in the first arrondissement. Billionaire CEO Bernard Arnault was prepared to throw a lot of money at the project—close to $1 billion according to CNN—to create a must-visit shopping destination for tourists.
They may be in short supply now due to the pandemic, but Arnault is playing a long game, confident that Samaritaine will eventually deliver on international footfall and spending. The store is also more conveniently and centrally located than LVMH’s other high-end Parisian store Le Bon Marché.
LVMH’s CFO Jean-Jacques Guiony said he expects the same level of sales per square meter as Le Bon Marché “at some future point,” possibly when tourist visits reach the five million mark that Eléonore de Boysson, DFS Group Region President for Europe and Middle East, predicts when travel returns fully.
There are five key zones within the beauty area:
* House of Perfume—A luxury space with prices from €3,000 to €300,000 featuring scents with, for example, rare ingredients in Murano glass bottles or set with precious stones. La Haute Parfumerie de Guerlain has a dedicated spot and there are rare pieces by Bulgari, Chanel, and Tiffany and an engraving service. Other brands include Diptyque, Frédéric Malle, and Jo Malone, as well as a pop-up for Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
* Pure Beauty—80 square meters dedicated to about 40 brands using responsible formulas and/or packaging. Among them are Dermalogica, Holidermie, L:A Brulet, Pai, Susanne Kaufmann, and Westman Atelier.
* Makeup Bar—In the center of the beauty ﬂoor sit makeup brands like Byredo, Charlotte Tilbury, Christian Louboutin, Dior, Hermès, and Tom Ford. The space will also be home to masterclasses.
* Cinq Mondes Spa—Drawing on beauty rituals from the five continents, Cinq Mondes’ 400-square-meter spa and boutique are inspired by a posh Parisian apartment, with garden views. There are seven treatment rooms, a private hammam, and scrub room with prices from €116 for a one-hour treatment.
* Samaritaine Beauty Studio—A clean beauty space of 165 square meters with hand and foot care from ecological nail specialist Kure Bazaar; hair styling by rotating global hairdressers in residence; and hair analysis to reveal the mineral composition of the body from Canadian laboratory Theio Vitality.
Other highlights and/or exclusives to the store:
* Dolce & Gabbana Beauty—A makeup collection where each product is adorned with an ornamental motif inspired by the house’s fashion.
* Helena Rubinstein—A legendary name from L’Oréal Group makes a long-awaited return at Samaritaine.
* Clé de Peau Beauté—The fast-growing premium skincare brand from Shiseido.
* SK-II—Another popular Japanese skincare brand whose hero product is Facial Treatment Essence.
* Fragonard—The historic perfumer from Grasse opens its first point of sale in a department store.
* Orveda—Treatments that combine nature and biotechnology, founded by Sue Y. Nabi who is now revamping Coty as its CEO.
* Sulwhasoo—A South Korean brand drawing on the medicinal properties of plants.
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