Joseph's Technicolor Dream Shop
Christian Biecher designs a dernier-cri Paris store for Joseph.
Suzanne Trocme -- Interior Design, 4/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
CASABLANCA-BORN JOSEPH ETTEDGUI has been in the vanguard of the British fashion industry since the 1970s. He is famous for his prescience in seeking out young and innovative talent. He was the first to show John Galliano's startling creations when the Paris-bound enfant terrible was fresh out of St. Martin's College in the early '80s. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of foreign talent, like the late Franco Moschino. As for the nascence of his own collections, Joseph cites his background as a hairdresser: listening intently to the complaints and preferences of his predominantly female clientele, he developed an acute sense of what women wanted from fashion.
Joseph also has a flair for selecting keenly imaginative architects and designers for his various boutiques at home and abroad, among them David Chipperfield, Christian Duval, India Madhavi, Christian Liaigre, and, most recently, the legendary Andrée Putman, who created the look for the London flagship store. For his new Paris establishment on the rue Saint Honoré, which is limited to the ready-to-wear collection, he turned to French architect Christian Biecher.
The new site covers more than 6,000 sq. ft. spread over two floors. The first floor wraps around a central courtyard on three sides. Women's wear is featured at the front of the store, men's wear in the rear. The long, narrow corridor connecting these spaces houses the Joseph "Essentials" collection. The women's dressing rooms are situated along this corridor and look out on to the courtyard. A sort of inner sanctum, these luxurious, beige-carpeted dressing rooms represent the soul of the store, where clients can relax and—in new-media fashion—peruse merchandise on Joseph's well-publicized website.
Joseph describes the concept behind the new Paris store as a "modern working environment—a cross between a boudoir and a teleportation unit where the Joseph collection will be surrounded by desks and computers." Information, catalogues, and what are called "look books" are on display to "educate people about the brand." The basement café has been dubbed a "pleasure zone," where customers can thumb though magazines while enjoying a delicious repast at Joe's Café. But be forewarned: as part of the interactive nature of the store's concept, web-cams have been installed throughout the store's interior on twenty-four-hour surveillance. Not only does a spirit of hi-tech entertainment prevail within the shop, the shoppers themselves also become entertainment for those who choose to visit Joseph via the Internet.
To counterbalance the technical nature of the store, Christian Biecher has enveloped the interior with a variety of softer materials: for the floors, a coat of cast-resin, and for the walls, Lebanese cedar panels. Biecher sometimes injects a jolt of color with wall sections of orange lacquer. The architect introduces more color with overhead fluorescent lights wrapped in colored gels.
True to his questing character, Joseph is already moving on to his next location, a third New York boutique that is being planned for Soho.