At 26, place Vendôme, Boucheron’s historic boutique reopened its doors last December after 18 months of renovation work. This major project was also an opportunity to renew the traditional codes of the customer experience in jewelry, as Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, Chief Executive Officer of Boucheron, explains.
What were the challenges in renovating 26, place Vendôme?
First of all, the boutique no longer reflected the identity and modernity of Boucheron – as it had not been renovated for 12 years. Aside from the boutique, we also commissioned an in-depth restoration of The Hôtel de Nocé, which had not been carried out for nearly 300 years. We turned to Michel Goutal, an architect with Monuments Historiques, to bring the building back to its former glory and its original volumes, while interior decorator Pierre-Yves Rochon brought a contemporary, elegant touch to this unique historical place. The challenge of the renovation was two-fold: there was, of course, a business dimension, but it also led to a deeper reassessment of our identity. By making a success of this marriage between tradition and modernity, the boutique is now truly in the image of Boucheron.
How will it change the customer experience at Boucheron?
We want to offer an experience that is intimate and warm, unlike the perceived image of the major Houses of the place Vendôme. It’s time to end the traditional distance of Haute Joaillerie. Boucheron has always been distinctive in having a certain warmth in its relations with clients. We receive them with a lot of empathy, as in a family home, and we wanted to take this approach even further. The aim is for everyone to feel as welcome at 26, place Vendôme as they are at their friends’ homes. That means paying attention to a multitude of small details and adjustments that can make a difference. We have therefore replaced the usual sales offices with convivial round tables, and the uniforms of the sales personnel with a more free and contemporary wardrobe. These are all details, but they demonstrate our desire to change the codes. Finally, there is the ultimate experience: reserved for our major customers, it is now possible to have a pause, and to enjoy a drink, or even spend the night in the Boucheron apartment, on the second floor of the Hôtel de Nocé.
How will this approach be deployed in your boutiques around the world?
We want to offer the same exceptional experience to people, whether they are in Paris, London, Shanghai or elsewhere. All the ‘best practices’ that have been tried out at 26, place Vendôme will gradually be deployed across the entire network – starting with the sales ceremony, but also including the clothes worn by sales staff and the same careful attention to detail when dealing with clients.
Meanwhile, along with the renovation of the Hôtel de Nocé, we worked on a new boutique concept for the whole network. Two talented young architects, Le Coadic and Scotto, were given a brief based on the same vision that had inspired the renovation of the Hôtel de Nocé. The challenge was to create a sense of two spaces being part of the same family – while also respecting their unique characteristics. Working from the same brief, the results closely reflected the world of place Vendôme – both in terms of the architecture (with the use of the same Parisian stone and the green marble typically found in Vendôme) and the design of the sales ceremony (each VIP room is different, so as to create a more homelike setting, with the sales tables being round in some cases and oval-shaped in others). This concept is now at the deployment stage. The aim is for clients to encounter not only the same codes, but also the same warmth, generosity and empathy, wherever they are in the world. They should have a similar experience: the Boucheron experience.
What is your vision of the Boucheron woman?
It’s a woman who buys her own jewelry. She is neither an object, nor a princess… She is a real, free woman, who doesn’t need to justify her actions. An independent woman, who comes here for jewelry that expresses who she is – and who buys jewelry that is to be worn and not to be locked away in a safe. The choice of jewelry reflects her personality and she makes it come alive. This was precisely the point of the show we organized in 2016 at 26, place Vendôme: it was to present pieces of jewelry, no longer on busts, but as ornaments on a woman’s body, and with a parade of women from every generation. Bringing jewelry back into women’s lives is one of our ambitions.