EXCLUSIVE: Paco Rabanne Signals Big Ambitions With Avenue Montaigne Flagship

·5 min read

PARIS Paco Rabanne has opened a flagship on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, signaling parent company Puig’s ambitions for the brand, which is targeting sales of 1 billion euros by 2025.

While the bulk of that sum will be generated by the label’s fragrances, including bestsellers such as XS and 1 Million, its fashion division has been growing at a strong clip, and launched online sales in China with the opening of a digital flagship on Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion.

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Driven by creative director Julien Dossena’s acclaimed online shows during lockdown, the label’s fashion revenues are expected to rise 20 percent in 2021 compared with 2019, after jumping 200 percent between 2018 and 2019.

While Puig does not provide revenues for individual brands, the Spanish beauty and fashion company ended 2020 with a net loss of 70 million euros, versus a gain of 226 million euros in 2019. It aims to surpass 3 billion euros in combined sales in 2023 and to reach 4.5 billion euros in 2025, versus 1.54 billion euros in 2020.

With the store at 39 Avenue Montaigne, Rabanne is crossing a threshold. The 1,650-square-foot boutique is across the street from fashionable eatery L’Avenue, a favorite of celebrities, and opposite Dior’s historic flagship, which is set to reopen soon after two years of renovations.

“This is about restoring the brand’s credentials and giving it the retail showcase it deserves,” Bastien Daguzan, general director of Paco Rabanne fashion, told WWD. “It’s a fantastic location in terms of foot traffic, a great opportunity for us and also a strong signal to the industry, because we’re in the midst of incredible brands.”

While the target is for the store to become profitable within three years, it will also play a key role in driving e-commerce sales, which account for 60 percent of fashion revenues at Rabanne. This figure is far above the luxury sector average, estimated at 22 percent in 2021, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

Rabanne inherited the store from its fellow Puig brand Nina Ricci, which opened the location in 1979 and shuttered it in April as part of its pivot to a digital-first strategy. While Rabanne sits in a lower price bracket than its neighbors on the upscale street, Daguzan believes the strategy fits with the Space Age brand’s iconoclastic history.

“Opening Paco Rabanne on Avenue Montaigne, with our positioning, is yet another way to challenge the codes of the industry,” he said.

The flagship is designed to be less conceptual and more experiential than its existing store on Rue Cambon. Designed by an in-house team, the 1970s-style interior contrasts silver accents with soft colors, like a terra-cotta carpet and a custom island in butterscotch resin and marble by award-winning Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis.

A room is dedicated to heritage styles, with racks strung with the brand’s signature 1969 chainmail handbag and mannequins displaying vintage looks, including a minidress made of aluminum sheets, from the spring 1967 haute couture collection, similar to the one famously worn by French singer Françoise Hardy.

A screening room at the back, meanwhile, allows visitors to sit in a truncated vintage Jaguar car while surrounded by images from the “Time Out” fall 2021 campaign film starring French actress Adèle Exarchopoulos.

The store will host various capsule collections, activations and exclusives, such as color-gradient 1969 bags, which look like they have been spray-painted. It carries Dossena’s capsule line with Japanese graphic designer Tsunehisa Kimura, which will make way in January for a collection created with the estate of Op Art pioneer Victor Vasarely.

The brand took advantage of the disruption induced by the coronavirus pandemic to reduce its rhythm to two collections per year, timed to the pre-collections season in January and June.

Its ready-to-wear is divided into four pillars: iconic looks, like the sequined chain disc Sparkle dress, with prices ranging from 990 euros to 3,500 euros; the runway collection, consisting of Dossena’s more avant-garde designs; activewear, and easy wear, its main commercial collection, priced from 290 euros to 1,290 euros.

“It’s important today to have a brand with a single creative backbone around which specific lines can revolve. We’re thinking about maybe repositioning the activewear, because it’s complementary, but perhaps it can have an existence of its own,” said Daguzan.

Rabanne is also mulling whether to turn the Rue Cambon boutique into a single-category store. Meanwhile, it has transferred its short-lived boutique on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, opened in 2020, to another Puig-owned brand, Carolina Herrera.

Daguzan does not anticipate further brick-and-mortar openings anytime soon, preferring to focus on the brand’s wholesale network, which generates more than half of its revenues online. Rabanne has 350 points of sale worldwide, including some 15 shops-in-shop in department stores.

Likewise, any return to physical runway shows must serve an online audience first. “It must be transmitted, seen and understood by the consumer at the same time that it is shown to the press. Today, this is one of the fundamentals of creating a show,” Daguzan said.

Despite the brand’s strong digital focus, it’s betting the Avenue Montaigne store will be a magnet for customers seeking the kind of glamorous evening wear that Dossena showcased in his fall 2021 collection. “It’s a playful brand for going out,” said Daguzan. “As soon as lockdowns are lifted, sales soar.”


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