PARIS — See now, buy now couture?
It’s coming very soon thanks to Balenciaga and its maverick creative director Demna: Some looks from Balenciaga’s couture show on July 6 at its historic salons at 10 Avenue George V in Paris will be immediately for sale downstairs at the new Balenciaga Couture Store opening the same day.
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Cédric Charbit, chief executive officer of Balenciaga, described the new retail format as a “gateway to couture, which remains a very closed universe, especially for new generations. In this new store, products, made-to-measure services and retail excellence are a reinvention of the Balenciaga client experience. It is exciting to be able to present this level of craft, creativity and Made in France savoir-faire in our historical address.”
In an interview, Charbit said consumer interest in Balenciaga couture, which returned last July after a 53-year absence, has been “extremely strong,” attracting women and men equally from “new demographics.”
And while some clients relish the couture ceremony — multiple fittings in the atelier, and the delayed gratification after months of painstaking handwork — others enjoy the rush of an immediate purchase.
Demna, who has innovated with couture by making it for men and women, and only once a year, is now nudging it into the age of short attention spans by putting looks that don’t require multiple fittings and extensive alterations directly into the new couture store.
Separate street-level spaces for women and men are to showcase limited-edition clothes, shoes, accessories and high-tech objects.
Charbit said eyewear would be priced around 3,500 euros, handbags between 10,000 and 15,000 euros, with the most expensive product topping out at around 100,000 euros. He declined to say what it is.
The executive also suggested that Balenciaga’s audience “wants to engage more” with the brand, and the new couture store offers a more elevated experience.
“You’ll be able to get the best possible service. You’re in a space that’s not a retail space; it’s experiencing a dream,” he enthused.
In a statement, the Kering-owned fashion house said the new couture store would offer “exclusive creations of clothing, accessories and exceptional objects ranging from artisanal to highly technological,” noting that all items would be exclusive to the location, sold in limited editions and with the possibility to personalize them upstairs, where its historic couture salons and atelier are located.
The Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his couture house at 10 Avenue George V in 1937, accruing an almost mythic reputation for his uncompromising standards and architectural shapes. He closed up shop in 1968.
Balenciaga noted its couture store for women and men would be open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and by appointment on Mondays and Saturdays.
In an interview with WWD last year, Demna said his intent was “bringing couture into the modern context and communicating it to the current audience,” who might not realize Balenciaga’s roots are in haute couture.
“They think it’s a brand that started with the Triple S sneaker,” he said. “So in a way, it’s kind of educational, but also putting in the spotlight what is the most important thing about fashion, and to me couture is the purest expression of that.”