French fancy: Pierre Hermé and L’Occitane’s sensory experiment arrives in Paris

French fancy: Pierre Hermé and L’Occitane’s sensory experiment arrives in Paris

Stalwarts of their respective industries, perfumer L’Occitane and ‘Picasso of pastry’ Pierre Hermé are natural bedfellows, sharing a classical, luxury leaning. Though, a new hybrid ‘store’ collaboration on the Champs Élysées is testing that preconception, with its highly contemporary, innovative outlook.

Intended to celebrate the high quality ingredients that go into making both L’Occitane and Pierre Hermé products, 86 Champs is a three-part gastronomic experiment, offering a dessert bar for initiating yourself in the art of pastry, a coffee station for discovering the art of coffee according to Pierre Hermé, and a restaurant, for a savoury interlude between dessert courses. Adding an olfactory twist, L’Occitane presents an interactive, in-store perfumery and scent installation, where guests come nose-to-nose with raw L’Occitane ingredients and production methods. 

The L’Occitane store at 86 Champs

Interior designer Laura Gonzalez aimed to create ‘a welcoming and refined place where objects, scents or tastes express osmosis between the two Maisons’. As such, the open plan space flows organically.

Known for her ability to elevate ‘boho chic’ to refined heights, Gonzalez utilised a soft colour palette inspired by Cezanne’s paintings, comprising shades of green, pink blush and orange cream. Made to measure ceramic booths stand in front of a floor-to-ceiling fresco, which frames, in the heart of the sensory city, a hanging sculpture consisting of a thousand balloons in blown glass. Outside, a seating area is surrounded by an abundance of vegetation including a botanical garden filled with aromatic verbena, cherry blossom and almond trees – key ingredients used in L’Occitane’s products.

Alongside a growing number of global lifestyle retailers, L’Occitane are keen to promote (buzzword alert) experiential marketing. Like Aesop, which uses local architects for its high concept stores, L'Occitane has called upon tailored, location-orientated design to enhance the personability of the brand. The partnership with Parisien chocolatier royalty Hermé is the third prong in a global campaign to put the customer experience front and centre of the L'Occitane message. The programme also includes a flagship London Regent Street store which opened this month, and a global online retail concept monikered ‘Sunshine’, which similarly promotes in-store interaction with the products.

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