Retail Remedy: Is it possible to outdo a classic?
Our intrepid expat and now Parisian, Richard Nahem, drools his way through the new Hermes shop on the Rive Gauche and shares some yummy tidbits for you to savor, whether in Paris or abroad… it’s the chic side of Paris in another arrondissement. -S.H.
Hermés on the rue St. Honoré is my favorite luxury store in Paris.
When I visit, I bask in all its luxuriousness, feeling the softness of the silk scarves against my cheek and running my fingers across the supple leather products giving myself goosebumps. I rarely buy anything but it’s fun to fantasize.
In fact, I have a collection of classic Hermés orange boxes stacked on my bookshelves, but they have been getting lonely lately, wishing for new family members to join them. I would be happy to accept any contributions to my collection, full or empty, preferably full.
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Hermés opened a new shop on the Left Bank in December, and it is a stunner.
They have lightened their approach with an airy, loft-like space on three levels housed in the former Art Noveau swimming pool of the Lutetia Hotel. At the entrance is a flower shop bursting with buoyant blooms by florist Baptiste Pitou.
Then comes the most dramatic part of the shop: A sweeping staircase made of curved strips of ash wood. Walking down the grand staircase one feels like a decadent showgirl— all that’s missing is a feathered head dress and the song " A Pretty Girl…." playing.
The drama continues with the selling floor dominated by three pear-shaped tee-pees using the same strips of wood creating a lattice work effect, projecting interesting shadows. Inside the tee-pees are sumptuous room settings with furniture and home accessories, making me want to move in on the spot.
The Hermes layout is much more informal than the Right Bank store, and it looks like a concept shop similar to Colette or Merci.
In addition to the usual must have bags, wallets, towels, ties, scarves, luggage, and accessories, there is a bookshop with the latest coffee table books.
Le Plongeoir (the diving board) cafe serves exotic tea, coffee, and pastries. Beware, the cheapest pot of tea is 14 euros & a cup of coffee is 9 euros, but it’s served on Hermés china, ooh-la-la! The cafe overlooks the shopping floor, a very clever merchandising ploy, so you can stake out your purchases while sipping your tea.
Architect Denis Montel has respectfully maintained the integrity of the space, keeping the original tiled columns and floors, and the ironwork on the upper balconies but at the same time making it contemporary.
My trips to the Rive Gauche will never be the same now as the new Hermés beckons me. Will I succumb? You bet! — Richard Nahem, The Paris Insider
Enjoy my photo gallery from the new Hermes store on the Left Bank of Paris:
Visit Hermes in Paris:
17 rue de Sevres, 6th arr.
Open Monday-Saturday, 10:30AM-7PM