Sometimes in order to write a good fashion story – you need help, so I had asked my friend Qi from BFIT (Beijing Fashion Institute of Technology) to join me when we obtained an invitation from the Karl Lagerfeld press office to come and visit the new store on the Boulevard St Germain – a visit organized in advance to be able to write a blog article.
She showed up in a skimpy white Chloe dress, with Coco Chanel jewelry, and most importantly in ROCK CHIC gold studded noire Roman sandals, which, unbeknownst to me at the point when we first entered the store, is actually the ‘style préféré’ – the preferred style – at the Karl Lagerfeld store. And not just for women. This style apparently works for men too! As a matter of fact ROCK CHIC proves to work well for both men and women and for women and men.
To summarize ROCK CHIC think of Glam & Rock in black and white and 50 shades of grey but without the platforms; throw in some Neo-Punk but without the vulgarity; then have ROCK CHIC launched at you at warp speed haute-couture in the form of ‘accessible’ luxury. Et voila! You will have a VERY DAFT punk experience which can be instantly and virtually tailored & communicated directly TO THE PUBLIC so as to immediately gratify your own material AND virtual needs: In style ROCK CHIC, at Karl Lagerfeld’s, your fashion, your fetish, your style will can be instantly tweeted on Twitter, fashioned on Facebook, and tubed on Youtube – while you still think you are shopping, whereas in reality you have now entered the Twilight Zone of REAL time and your new style ROCK CHIC is already streaming LIVE unto a larger audience. Expect an interview with the Vampire.
At Karl Lagerfeld’s your identity will not only be personalized (as at let’s say chez Louis Vuitton or chez Yves Saint Laurent) or enhanced by style (as with most other brands), NO SIR, at Karl’s in Paris you will have the singular opportunity to actually BECOME THE BRAND and you may find yourself with a feeling of vertigo when your identity takes a hit, when it starts to drift, and when it even may be starting to SHIFT. Visiting Karl’s is a remarkable & highly recommended experience which takes the whole notion of what constitutes ‘shopping’ to what is most probably the next level in branding, concept, & design in fashion.
Essentially the consumer is integrated directly into the concept store through a POST ROCK experience at Karl Lagerfeld’s in the same way & fashion Damien Hirst integrates visitors coming to a museum into a POST MODERN ART display: for example, it’s the man watching the Shark in Formaldehyde inside the large fish-tank who has become part of the exhibit AND the OBJECT of the art at large, rather than just a passive visitor. In similar mode & fashion, at Karl’s you will become part of the act.
Thus the Karl Lagerfeld store – painted black – offers an outstanding CHIC ROCK ‘experience’ and is located on the Boulevard St Germain on a rather famous ‘coin de la rue’ – street corner – where you will also find the Café de Flore, the Restaurant Les Deux Magots, and the Brasserie Lipp, all of which were once the décor & setting of various movie & photo shoots, as well as the well-known venue of dark conversations between existentialist Rive Gauche philosophers from bygone years.
Film Noir, Café Noir, Noir Coeur, existentialist conversations – you get the drift –, is right here, on the Boulevard of Paint-It-Black, that in recent years ago a large invasion took place by high-end luxury and fashion concept stores – some of them, most of them, actually PAINTED BLACK. The corner store is Armani – in black (even has a restaurant – in black). A little bit down the road you there is The Kooples – in black. Not far on the same side of the Boulevard there is Sonia Rykiel – again in black. Donna Karan & Calvin Klein must be dying to get in on the action here! Halfway across the street from Karl, there sits the grand Paris flagship store of Polo Ralph Lauren – the only store NOT in black, but which has its own interior court & restaurant – as the Fashion Anchor on the block. And then when you skip halfway across the street to Karl’s, the image of Mr Lagerfeld himself in his famous sun glasses holding his even more famous cat Choupette, appears in the window.
We were received very kindly by two young and expert staff members at the Karl Lagerfeld store, who clearly explained to us all the concept, design, and fashion of ROCK CHIC and how the style offers the opportunity to be appealing for men as well as for women. The store, small from the outside, has a large interior with two floors, which is greatly enhanced by its POST ROCK atmosphere by means of superior branding and design: Prepare to imagine yourself on the movie set of the latest Ridley Scott Sci-Fi movie. There is a grand staircase to the first floor where there are two different rooms with clothing for men.
All items are luxury products but the concept is that all luxury in the store is not only designed to fit your personal CHIC ROCK style but that it is also ‘ACCESSIBLE ‘. In other words, where at other brands you would pay the price according to not only luxury, but also the brand name, at Karl Lagerfeld your luxury – AND the quality, AND the name – basically becomes affordable – even if you are just simply holding a single steady job in today’s down economy. At Karl’s, ROCK CHIC – in all its luxury hues of black and white – becomes available to you.
Integrated into the visual merchandising on both floors and into the larger concept of the store you will find technology. Well, this is nothing new you probably will say, as many other concept fashion stores are nowadays using large flat screens, advanced audio, and high tech modeling displays (Benetton, Armani, Dolce & Gabana, etc.) – among other gadgets, which are then fully integrated into the store concept & the interior design, but at Karl’s they are taking technology one leap further: Each display has its own IPAD which allows you to not only take an immediate look into the full virtual catalog of items, prices, and sizes available at the present time of the item you are currently admiring, but the devices also allow you to immediately tweet, youtube, email and book whatever you admire directly into the cloud, so that all your virtual needs are being taken care of AND gratified instantly.
This process was dubbed & branded KAPTURE KREATE & POST for at the larger IPADS in the store, and the ones inside the beautifully crafted & designed changing cabins, it is possible to take instant snapshots & photos of whatever you are trying on in whichever pose you feel like attempting at the given time. So aye, now you can immediately and instantaneously youtube, book, email or tweet yourself together with your chosen ROCK CHIC item, tailored to accessible luxury perfection, directly into cyberspace. And by doing so, THIS is where YOU become part of the store, part of the concept, and perhaps even part of the design.
Back on the ground floor at Karl’s you will then find leather bags, wallets, belts, watches, and different types of shoes & boots, and all the other accessories that luxury goods stores carry and when we descended there, it prompted and begged the question as to which items were for men and which items were for women. The staff proved to be more than knowledgeable in their answer, and they proved to be as smart as that they were smartly dressed ROCK CHIC, because ROCK CHIC accessory items were explained to us as available for BOTH for men AND for women at the same time.
Larger watches are carried by both men and women today. Handbags, wallets & pocketbooks – studs & decorations all – are carried by both men and women these days. The same goes for scarfs, sun glasses, and many other accessories. In short everything which does not need a specific size for a man or a woman can be shared universally among men and women in a style of most androgynous ROCK CHIC fashion. The concept was introduced to us very well and I was allowed to try a ROCK CHIC black silver studded handbag under my arm even though I had walked into the store in traditional cowboy boots, a fedora, and a conservative pin-striped black jacket.
We were then asked to sit down and relax in a large & hairy black velvet lounge fauteuil (armchair) and they served us an excellent black espresso from a white cup. And as we sipped espresso they took pictures of us posing with a ROCK CHIC item on one of the larger IPADS, while simultaneously displaying the latest collections of the item directly from the IPAD by fingertip-flip straight onto the wall-sized fashion modeling multi-screen (four screens integrated) behind us, the only thing missing and not yet ‘mise-en-scène’ was perhaps our own real-time image together with the ROCK CHIC item flashed over to the multi-screen as integrated part of the collection. Who knows what the future will hold? Yet, regardless and in spite of ourselves, we had become an integrated part of the concept & the design of the Karl Lagerfeld store.
So when next time you visit Paris and YOU are sitting in the black velvet chair chez Karl trying a ROCK CHIC item, maybe allow your mind to wander a bit, and perhaps that you will imagine DAFT PUNK – helmets on and all – to come walking into the store at that very moment, or maybe Billy Idol, or Gene Simmons, or Flash Gordon, or perhaps even Mr. Lagerfeld himself with Choupette in his arms. Not so far-fetched maybe as you are now rapidly moving BACK TO THE FUTURE …
Posted by: Sandro
* The Karl Lagerfeld store in Paris is on Boulevard St Germain. There is a smaller version in the Marais and other stores are (will be) located in Berlin, LA, and Hong Kong. Visit Karl Lagerfeld on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.