Viktor & Rolf's first flagship boutique is covered with grey felt
The interior of Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf's first flagship store in Paris has been covered in grey felt by French studio Architecture & Associés.
Architecture & Associés was asked to create an unobtrusive design for the duo's recently opened store on Rue Saint-Honoré, close to Paris' famous shopping square Place Vendôme.
"We said we would like a store that's invisible or a store that's hardly there because often we find store designs very intrusive and just too much," Viktor & Rolf co-founder Viktor Horsting told Dezeen.
Grey was chosen to line the interior as it provided a simple environment to showcase the duo's products and is also used in the set designs of the brand's catwalk shows.
"We wanted to create an environment where the clothes would really stand out," said Horsting. "Grey is a very good colour as a backdrop because it's very neutral. It's a total surreal experience because you're in an environment that's entirely made out of fabric, but at the same time it's something architectural. We like that surrealism."
The store houses men and women's ready-to-wear clothing, accessories such as bags and shoes, plus the brand's line of fragrances.
Neoclassical elements such as arched niches along the walls and a colonnade of arches running over the staircase create shadows to break up the monochrome.
Shelves for displaying products sit in the niches, some of which are illuminated with white light from behind similar to the ceiling panels.
The felt also muffles the sounds of browsing shoppers in an attempt to make the large 650-square-metre store feel more intimate.
"We wanted to emphasise the personal experience of shopping," Horsting said. "I have to say that it was a little bit of a guess. Of course we thought that the felt would change certain acoustics of the space but we couldn't really imagine it, so when we were there over the weekend we were glad to hear that the effect was as we had hoped."
"You're really by yourself even though it's a big space, and even though the architecture is rigorous and graphic, it's not imposing or too grand," he continued. "It's really an intimate place. It's quite beautiful."
The store opened last week to coincide with Viktor & Rolf's twentieth anniversary, which was also marked by the house's return to haute couture in July. The designers will show their Spring 2014 collection in January next year.
Read on for more information from the team behind the design:
The store will be on Rue Saint-Honoré, just a stone's throw from the Place Vendôme.
The miscellanea of the Viktor & Rolf world will all be available at the boutique: men and women's ready-to-wear, shoes, the iconic "Bombette" line of bags and leather goods, glasses, accessories and of course, the line of fragrances.
Driven by a taste for the paradoxical, the designers desired an eternal environment for their ever-changing collections, in their own words: "a striking world where every and anybody's desires or fantasies can be borne upon what we do".
The innovative design, conceived by Pierre Beucler and Jean-Christophe Poggioli of Architecture & Associés, combines the palatial grandeur of Renaissance Italy with the classicism of the French tradition for a startlingly avant-garde universe.
The spirit of unorthodox innovation that has always driven Viktor & Rolf, whose work has often been characterised by its subtle exploration of scale and shadow, inspired the architects towards a spectral architecture crafted entirely of grey felt. This single-material strategy makes for a phantasmagorical space of shifting apparitions where the uniform surface of the walls, floors and furniture, as a kind of all-enveloping interior skin, creates the effect of complete unity.