Three Paris Retailers Foreshadow Home Style To Come
Editor’s note: Hermine Mariaux will blog about news and trends from the Maison & Objet show, which takes place Sept. 5-9. Now on the ground in Paris, she shares her observations about stores trends .
For every trend, there is a counter trend. To wit what’s happening at three leading Home Style retailers here.
With all the talk and evidence of deep rich colors coming our way, these specialty retailers, considered some of the best weathervanes for changes on the way, have taken a decidedly firm stand on newly revived neutrals.
Black and deep espresso browns are the dramatic main players set against a foil of raw or near raw furniture finishes with paint and fabrics in grayed taupes which can only be collectively described as "Mud." However, don’t let this description fool you. The end result is a highly sophisticated mix of nature’s own and urban elements resulting in a zen-like comfort zone. Although relaxed, the term "casual" no longer fits here,"easy elegance" better expresses this style step-up.
It is a look most emphatically presented by Flamant, the Belgian retailer with branches here in the golden triangle of upscale specialty stores in Saint Germain. My heart always skips a jump and my spirits lift every time I walk through its doors. If only retailers in the US better understood the persuasive power of a unified message. Too many times they try to be too many things to too many people. Flamant proves time and again that focusing on one’s constituency and catering to it is a more reliable path to turn an aspirational consumer into a dedicated repeat customer. Crate & Barrel is the closest we come but without the intimate warmth conveyed by Flamant.
Outstanding: The driftwood shades of contemporary case pieces are sometimes punctuated by glass panes outlined in black, imparting graphic definition and, oddly, a contemporized Biedermeier reference. French bombe chests, their shapes simplified but unmistakably derived from Louis XV forerunners, are finished in black with a metallic overcast. Another sports stripes, alternating black with natural wood.
Seating is almost always featured in deep brown or taupe linens accented with toned down olive green. Leather can be blistered or more weathered than ever to create texture in keeping with handspun blankets and throws. Leather is also the focal point for an extensive collection of leather trunks proposed for storage.
Lampshades, not your usual trend indicator, make Flamant’s color palette abundantly clear. Black, charcoal gray and brown are the only choices.
Even glassware in table settings carries out the understated mood in smoke-y browns with dinnerware in near black or what Tiffany once featured as "drabware".
A similar mood and color palette prevails at Maison & Famille, another multi branch retailer. Even Blanc & Ivoire the third retailer with influence and locations beyond its home borders, has departed its moorings (White & Ivory) for the more extended range of heavily grayed whites and neutrals and mid to deep browns, the latter most often seen in embroidered velvet pillows and quilts, their chocolaty richness an effective antidote to overall restraint.
Unfortunately, Maison & Objet tends to overlap the two big "Sale" periods when department stores often look like unmade beds littered with leftovers and a not yet defined fall point of view.