GDR reviews… The House of Dior

Jun 21, 2016

Christian Dior’s brief for architect Peter Marino when designing the new London flagship was unusually straightforward: “The tones of grey, pale turquoise and pink will prevail.”

Shades of Dior’s signature grey wash over four floors. Trellises of jasmine bloom in a winter garden, while pops of pink and turquoise appear in the wallpaper and light installations. Further quirks come courtesy of sculptors Tony Cragg and Rado Kirov, and a collaboration with artist Mark Quinn.

Dior’s latest retail temple is selling more than just women’s gowns, men’s suits and homeware. It is selling a highly prized luxury: time.

What stood out to GDR on our visit was how friendly the staff at the House of Dior were. The days of icy shop assistants appears to have thawed. It is a shift we have also perceived at Chanel and Guerlain, perhaps driven by the decline in both luxury tourism and customers’ expectations of exclusivity.

Related content: How Apple’s new store is selling the latest must-have: the connected customer

Sidney Toledano, president and chief executive of Dior, discussed the House of Dior’s more relaxed approach with Vogue. “The real deal is time,” he said. “Time to sit on the sofa, time to talk with people. The young generation, whether they are 15, 18, 20, they want everything fast. But maturity is giving meaning to time. …They don’t come here just to buy a dress, or to buy a bag. Frankly, if it was just a commodity, then you have the internet. We give the ability to the people to have a moment of dreaming.”

These moments of dreaming can be found throughout the store. The products are displayed sparsely, and look almost like works of art in good company with Kirov and Cragg’s swirling sculptures. Flowers and topiary soften the metal and marble, with seating areas inviting customers to sit and muse (presumably about the best outfit for St. Tropez rather than the prices).

“The clients are not saying, ‘I’m not buying this because I don’t know the name of the designer’,” said Toledano. “They buy it because they like it. Because it’s Dior.” The new London flagship, however, proves it is far more than just a label. It is an experience, and a surprisingly friendly one.

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