People familiar with Karl Lagerfeld’s stark sense of style will have no trouble recognizing the inspiration for the fashion icon’s new Paris shop, located on the Left Bank’s prestigious and historic Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Designed by Berlin-based Plajer & Franz Studio in collaboration with NYC-based creative agency Laird+Partners, and Olaf Becker, Lagerfeld’s retail director, the two-level, 2,250-square-foot “concept” store is filled with a monochromatic palette, sleek surfaces and high-tech touches, referencing the minimal and modern aesthetic of both the clothing brand and the designer himself.
It's such a cohesive brand statement, in fact, that it’s hard to believe that the final format was not predetermined—but that too fits into the Lagerfeld narrative of inspired design. (“I design like I breathe. You don’t ask to breathe, it just happens,” reads a portion of his website, dubbed “Karlisms”.)
“We did not have an overall concept that we worked toward or a ‘defined’ result in our minds,” says Werner Franz, founder and CEO of Plajer & Franz Studio. “It was more of a searching for the ‘right’ thing, in which we would know when it was right.”
The final program was heavily driven by the building’s angular structure; its columns and dividing walls had to be creatively integrated into the space to avoid interrupting the shopping experience. But designers also found inspiration in classic features like the original staircase and wood paneling on the first floor, both of which were retained and restored.
“By deciding to restore them and add some modern elements, the dialogue between modern and classic has been reinforced,” Franz says. “Moreover, this interplay brought some French flair into the store via references to French architecture, neoclassicism and deliberate maintenance of the [existing elements].”
In order to fully represent the brand and the store’s inventory, special attention was given to the display areas. The spaces are intended to create what Franz calls “the juxtapositions”—matte versus glossy and soft versus hard—and reinforce the Lagerfeld’s modern attitude. Clear and black reflective surfaces contrast with matte materials like white GetaCore on the walls (a solid surface product out of Germany), leather seating and steel in the lighting channels. LED-illuminated strips are used throughout the store to create visual illusions and highlight products.
Tablets also make their requisite appearance at Karl Lagerfeld Paris, although the scale of implementation is notable. iPads mounted on the end of each clothing rack allow shoppers to electronically peruse look books, visit the Lagerfeld website and communicate with the designer via a digital guestbook; touchscreens in the fitting rooms allow customers to take pictures and upload them to their personal social media pages.
These touches create a place that’s about more than just shopping—they allow customers to connect more deeply with the brand and the legend himself. For Franz, that’s the ultimate goal. “It offers customers a real shopping experience—one that involves active interaction, one that allows for engagement with the brand and its values, and most importantly, one that remains unforgotten.”