EXCLUSIVE: Dior to Open Pop-up Complex in Seoul

PARIS — Dior’s recently renovated flagship on Avenue Montaigne in Paris has already spawned an offshoot. Coinciding with its first fashion show in South Korea, the French fashion house is opening a sprawling pop-up store in Seoul housed in a metallic mesh structure recalling the facade of its historic headquarters in Paris.

The roofless and open-air structure, erected on a former parking lot, is home to a garden as well as the Dior boutique, described as “a luminous glass showcase” filled with furniture conceived by Korean designers, and featuring a café with an immersive video decor.

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“This is the next generation of pop-up stores,” Pietro Beccari, chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture, told WWD. “It’s going to be very big.”

The 7,500-square-foot complex is located in the former industrial zone of Seongsu-dong, which has become a popular area filled with craft coffee bars and organic restaurants located in repurposed warehouses, earning it comparisons with Brooklyn.

“For me, luxury is emotion and it’s surprise. You are where people don’t expect you to be. In this quarter, there’s no luxury at all. There are many, many young people at the weekend. It’s a meatpacking district, it’s full of butchers,” Beccari noted. “There are plenty of little leather workshops from the 1800s. And we thought it was the moment to show up where people don’t expect us to be.”

The temporary structure is due to remain in place for several years, evolving with the seasons and collections. When it opens on May 1, the store will offer the pre-fall collection designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of womenswear, one day after its runway debut at the city’s Ewha Womans University.

It will also carry the Dior Chez Moi loungewear capsule; sneakers, and Dior Book Totes, which can be personalized in a dedicated room.

The store’s decor will feature original furniture pieces by South Korean designers such as Kwangho Lee, whose sculptural designs are made from polystyrene foam, and Jeonghwa Seo, who fuses metals and natural materials such as wood and straw. The house’s signature toile de Jouy motif is printed on traditional Hanji paper, made by mixing mulberry fiber and natural wood pulp.

For the Café Dior backdrop, Dior collaborated with Korean digital design company D’strict on images inspired by the lush gardens of founder Christian Dior’s childhood home in the French seaside town of Granville.

Dior has 12 women’s stores in South Korea, including its House of Dior flagship, opened in 2015 in Seoul, and five men’s stores. It has staged a number of exhibitions in the country, and has further ramped up its visibility through its relationship with Blackpink’s Jisoo, who last year was named as its new global ambassador for fashion and beauty.

“Korea was a much smaller market five years ago for us. Now it’s super sizable and we are gaining, as we speak, market share, and we are quite a giant brand now, so it’s time to go,” Beccari said. “I believe that with the show and with this incredible experience store, it’s going to be a fantastic boost for our morale, for our troops over there, and also awareness for the clients.”

Meanwhile, the Avenue Montaigne store, which reopened in March after two years of renovations, is drawing on average 2,800 people a day to its store and restaurants, with a further 1,500 people visiting the permanent exhibition space known as La Galerie de Dior. On weekends, visitor numbers exceed 5,000 a day, Beccari reported.

“It’s just completely crazy, and still we don’t have a peak of tourists. Imagine Fashion Week or imagine when Chinese tourists will be back. It’s quite amazing,” he marveled.

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