If Cruella de Vil were to open a Parisian nail polish boutique, this would be it—and she would most likely be sporting red-soled Christian Louboutin stilettos to match. In a premiere location in the city's 1ère arrondissement, Christian Louboutin has colonized one of Paris's 19th-century covered passages, Galerie Véro-Dodat. Built in 1826 as a shortcut between Palais-Royale and Les Halles, Galerie Vero-Dodat was once home to purveyors of antique dolls and high-quality art books. Today it is a magnet for Christian Louboutin aficionados, with a busy women's shoe salon, the brand's first men's boutique (opened in 2011), an elite cobbler, and a nail polish boutique inaugurated in January.
Given the meticulous attention to detail so evident in Louboutin's shoes, the Galerie Véro-Dodat nail boutique is something of a disappointment—a cacophony of styles and materials in the tiny 540-square-foot space. The work of French interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch, the boutique is conceived as “a temple to beauty,” according to project architect Marc Leschelier. The shop is divided into three distinct spaces: an entrance gallery, a sales area, and an upstairs boudoir for VIP clients. In lieu of a conventional shop window, Yovanovitch opted for an all white gallery-like space fronting Galerie Véro-Dodat, so it's not obvious from outside whether this is a store at all. Potential shoppers hover outside the window, peering in as they wonder whether to enter.
Intended as a reference to the design of the bottle, the front gallery space has a mirror-clad shaft in the ceiling that required a special permit from the Architectes des bâtiments de France because of the building's historic status. The hexagonal opening provides a glimpse of the second-floor ceiling and is illuminated with a video projection of passing clouds. The 31 colors of nail polish are displayed in bottles inside individual arched niches—a Louboutin signature also prevalent in the adjacent shoe salon—that contribute to the gallery feel. Walls lined with semitranslucent white Methacrylate, a high-quality plexiglass with a “frozen” finish, and a white composite-marble floor complete the space. Leschelier describes the unusually prominent—and seemingly arbitrary—joint pattern in the floor as a “geste” (gesture).
The inner sanctum of the shop employs a contrasting palette of materials, including Belgian blue stone (a type of limestone) flooring, a burnished-copper stair banister that again incorporates Louboutin's signature niches, and a reception desk and shelving in rough-hewn solid oak that look out of place in this luxurious setting. A disproportionately wide 3½-foot stair—required by building regulations —leads to an upstairs “boudoir” where beauty treatments will take place. Here, in a departure from the angular ground floor, voluptuous curves prevail. Rounded cornices of sculpted gypsum plaster in beigey-pink tones are complemented by plush sofas.
For Christian Louboutin's first nail boutique, Pierre Yovanovich has created three disparate spaces that fail to cohere as a unified whole. The design has neither the whimsy nor the daring of Louboutin's red soles, the Cruella de Vil nail polish bottle, or Loubiville. Nevertheless, given the brand's 1.7 million-strong Twitter following, Louboutin's nail polish is likely to fly off the shelves.
|Filmmaker David Lynch created a surreal, 45-second video that fetishizes the stiletto-like Christian Louboutin nail polish bottles.|
|In his international launch of the new beauty line, Louboutin created a model of an imaginary city, shown in this video, where the faceted glass nail polish bottle, with its 8-inch stiletto cap, is featured prominently. The architecture of Loubiville, an all-white, bizarre take on the Land of Oz, also attests to Louboutin's admiration of Oscar Niemeyer.|
Pierre Yovanovitch Architecture d'Int'rieur
540 square feet
1. On ground level
2. 1st level:
2. On ground level in 2nd room:
3. On 1st floor:
In the 'hole' which opens to a double height in the 1st room, the surfaces are covered in metal sheets with a mirror shiny finish.
The video (birds flying in a sky with clouds) is an exclusive creation by Christian Louboutin team.
Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Small display shelves in room 2 on ground level are also in solid oak wood in the same finish.