Following a sweeping four-year renovation, Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon has recently reopened, and long-time guests and supporters have been returning to find many of the grandest aspects of its hallowed past, dating back more than 250 years, reassuringly unchanged.
Yet, as part of its positioning as a ‘21st century palace’, the Rosewood-managed hotel has introduced a new gastronomic restaurant, a brasserie, two suites designed by Karl Lagerfeld, a subterranean pool and a retail space conceived by Parisian journalist and curator Thomas Erber. The space, called La Boutique, is the first permanent home for ‘Le Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber’, a peripatetic concept store that popped up in cities around the world between 2010 and 2015. Erber has upped the ante on other curated pop-up stores by assembling a uniquely eclectic and ambitious selection of specially commissioned and site-specific design, objets d’art, fashion, accessories and other collectables. His London edition at Browns in 2011 included a book made from aluminium sheets by José Lévy, and a custom-made, cubic evening bag with brass and crystal detailing by Lulu Guinness.
Rosewood tapped Erber as the perfect man to reimagine the hotel lobby boutique, too often a tired selection of luxury baubles. ‘We want La Boutique to reflect the modern sensibilities and tastes of our clientele, while also paying homage to the heritage of the property,’ says the hotel’s general manager Marc Raffray, who explains that the key mandate for Erber was exclusivity. ‘We wish to have a different approach, offering unique pieces and limited editions.’
For his part, Erber says the hotel was open-minded and receptive to his suggestions, especially since he gave careful consideration to what guests might find not simply desirable but also useful – hence a little black dress by Mugler, a white shirt by Cifonelli and Ron Dorff underwear. Among the 40 designers and artisans featured at any given time, he estimates that two-thirds of them will be French, with current offerings including Hugo Matha mixed material bags and a handmade valet by Atelier Arizona. ‘I think the diversity of the creative field we propose will be very interesting,’ says Erber. ‘You can have all these different things as long as the meaning is there.’
Within a two-part space on either side of the hotel’s entrance on rue Boissy d’Anglas, La Boutique reflects the same refreshed, refined design created by Tristan Auer throughout the reception, brasserie and other public spaces, while assuming a touch of Erber’s eclectic aesthetic. Unsurprisingly, he seems delighted that visitors and locals alike can discover his vision without an end date. ‘What we’ve created here is a statement,’ he says. ‘We can set a bit of permanence. Things will last.’
As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)