Hubert Burda Media

Couture and Craft

At Christian Dior’s revamped boutiques in Hong Kong, the fashion experience is also a cultural one.

The celebrities had walked the red carpet; Coco Lee had done her song and dance. Now, it was time to go shopping. Never mind the fact that it was 10pm on a Tuesday night. When Christian Dior sends the invite, you accept.
The gala dinner to celebrate the reopening of the French luxury brand’s flagship boutiques in Hong Kong at the malls Pacific Place and The Landmark had just concluded. Despite the time, both stores had stayed open to welcome fully satiated VIP clients for a grand tour and, more importantly, to indulge in retail therapy.
Earlier in the day, the press had been given a pre-opening walk-through of their exquisite interiors. Having the ability that an owl has to rotate its head 360 degrees would have come in useful, just because there really is that much to see.
Christian Dior was once an art gallery owner before he dominated the fashion world. And it is these roots that his present-day team has drawn its inspiration from. Developed by renowned architect Peter Marino, the stores were given a complete overhaul to accommodate the One Dior Universe, a new retail concept that debuted in the Avenue Montaigne boutique in Paris, and aims to bring all the aspects of the brand under one embellished roof.
Sculptures, creative wallcoverings and mixed media installations are sprinkled throughout both boutiques. Even the chairs are not forgotten, with each one bearing a different fabric weave design and texture. A predominantly silver palette is the signature look of this new universe. Central to it is the impression of moving from one salon to another, much like those in the Palace of Versailles. It explains why mirrors are in abundance -— some used as the backdrop for a display of accessories, others creatively cloaked as sculptures. Unmistakable is the fireplace, the anchor feature of every Dior boutique even in the most tropical of climates.
But it really is the art that takes centre stage. Artists from the world over were commissioned pieces specially for the One Dior Universe. While some are unique to the boutiques in Hong Kong, others are replicated in the other stores.
Pacific Place
The cannage design on the facade of the mall tells you the world of Dior is behind it. Occupying two floors, the main entrance is on level three, the space anchored by the “Terence Main” circular stainless steel bench with its seats in alternating textures.
To the right, the bag bar is plush with fabric lining the walls — the very same used in Dior’s haute couture pieces. At the far end, the fragrances are on display, contained in sleek bottles labelled with exotic sounding names such as “Leather Oud” and “Ambre Nuit”.
Left of the entrance houses the Timepieces and Fine Jewelry Salon. There, it is one display window that charms, with its miniature of a music room complete with grand piano and Dior-labelled shopping bags upon which the jewellery is delicately arranged. Look to the ceiling where LED lights are arranged like a constellation — a tribute to Mr Dior who was a fan of astrology.
A staircase curves elegantly up to the ready-to-wear and shoe salon, the wall alongside it fitted with screens that cleverly integrate Dior-related photographs with videos. Once among the outfits, the clothes might prove distracting but again, the ceiling is worth a glance since Butterfly 3, an art installation by Rob Wynne, covers it.
Even the furniture is not forgotten. Choose to try on shoes while perched on patterned sofas, or a cube-shaped ottoman made from stainless steel balls affixed to one another.
The Landmark
Just for its re-opening, the boutique has a special art window in which renowned Chinese artist Liu Jianhua has a three-by-three matrix of what, on first glance, looks like Lady Dior bags but are actually lifelike porcelain replicas.
On the ground floor of this duplex is a complete range of Dior handbags, including the exotic collection, and the Timepiece and Fine Jewelry Salon. The staircase, with its custom-made wrought iron balustrade, leads to the second level, which holds two ready-to-wear salons, an evening wear salon and a VIP one that has its own private access.
Peppered throughout are artworks that’ll make any curator green with envy. Bound to stop you in your tracks is the space where the exotic bags are displayed, for on one wall hangs Lladró-meets-Precious-Thoughts sculptures moulded in white ceramic. Each has a different scene but always alludes back to the French roots of Dior so you will spot the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower.
The ceiling of the Timepiece and Fine Jewelry Salon has Cosmic, another mirror installation by Rob Wynne, while the shoe salon has a tapestry by Pae White. There is a mirror and lamps from Véronique Rivemale, a facetted mirror by Mathias Kiss and a pair of metal commodes by Juan and Paloma Garrido. In the VIP salon, an organically shaped coffee table is filled with ball bearings and spherical magnets placed atop, so you can “draw” shapes while waiting for your clothes to be brought out.
Sounds like a game for kids? But why not? After all, you are immersed in this artistic Dior universe and surely you are entitled to a little child’s play — isn’t that the greatest luxury sometimes?