A Tour Through Guerlain's Newly Restored Flagship.
Dec 12 2013
I was invited to the opening of the beautifully renovated and much expanded Guerlain flagship store a few weeks ago. Ruinart flowed generously and the crowd was tremendously chic as one would expect but the real star of the evening was incontestably the historic location itself.
The House of Guerlain has a long tradition of supporting artists throughout the decades and so a succession of influential artists have each left their imprint at 68, Champs Elysées: Light fixtures by Diego Giacometti here, a console table by Jean-Michel Frank there and, of course, Christian Bérard's famous trompe-l'oeil tapestry located in the spa, formerly the Guerlain family's private apartment. Now thanks to the exacting eye of Peter Marino and his team, there is a new generation of cutting edge artists whose works reside under the same roof as these masters of 20th century decorative arts.
To start, an installation composed of Guerlain's emblematic gold bees designed by the artist Gérard Cholot to look like mylar balloons and entitled le Vol des Abeilles (flight of the bumblebees) hangs over head as you enter via the new extension. On the ground floor, you'll find Norbert Brunner's glass and mirror installation depicting a massive pair of eyes layered to create the illusion that the eyes are following you throughout the makeup gallery. Upstairs, the bespoke fragrance area with its golden hue and intricate straw marquetry adorning the walls, the painstaking work of the craftsman Lison de Caunes, is a testament to the French tradition of artisanat d'art. The spa waiting room windows harbour a garden composed solely of orchids, the work of the artist L. Guillou while the treatment rooms boast amber-toned onyx panels to create a warm, enveloping atmosphere befitting Guerlain's privileged clientele.
And, in case you needed further evidence that the traditional barriers between creative disciplines are melting away as quickly as the polar ice caps, the newly refurbished flagship now boasts a restaurant. Dubbed "68", it is located on the lower ground floor and features the cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin (of Le Grand Vefour fame). Chef Martin has been tasked with connecting the dots between Guerlain's long and distinguished olfactory heritage and its new foray into gastronomy. His offerings to date include a series of pastries inspired by various Guerlain fragrances including La petite robe noire. I have yet to sample 68's delicacies but it is on my list of discoveries for 2014.
The overall result of this extensive makeover is that every centimeter of the space exudes refinement and luxury. Bravo Mr. Marino, bravo Guerlain.
The Luxe Chronicles