The French Tailor in New York
Posted December 1, 2003

The relocation and expansion of Façonnable's original New York boutique to Rockefeller Center allowed the retailer to show how it has evolved over the last 10 years as a presence in the U.S., as well as to introduce its expanded women's collections.

"The previous location was very successful, but small," says Kevin Nauss, store planning, project manager, for Nordstrom, Façonnable's parent company. "We wanted a space to showcase the entire line and to develop a store that is truly a flagship U.S. location."

Founded as a tailor shop in France in 1950, and established as a men's clothing collection 10 years later, the brand is now known for its high-end men's and women's apparel and accessories with a distinct French sensibility.

The 21,000-square-foot, three-level boutique occupies the former Sephora space on Fifth Avenue. IBEX Construction (New York) was hired to remodel the space, keeping the historical elements intact. What transpired was a collaborative design by Huntley Architecture (Seattle), Façonnable (Nice, France) and the store planning division of Nordstrom (Seattle).

"Upon entering the Fifth Avenue doors, Chassagne Beige French limestone flooring welcomes shoppers at both entrances, while elegant wood paneling shapes the boutique's structure to evoke the history of a European tailor shop," says Andy Frankl, president of IBEX.

The drive aisle leads back to the focal point grand staircase. "It's hard to get customers to the second floor, especially in a boutique," says Nauss. "We wanted to provide some point of interest so people would be encouraged to go upstairs to women's."

Scott Huntley, principal, Huntley Architecture, adds, "As a strong architectural element, the grand staircase provides an inviting and sumptuous connection to the women's collection."

The store's design introduces a fresh merchandising approach for the French brand. One of the organizing principles was to create a variety of intimate shopping spaces. "The way we structure the rooms, using the small peninsulas of casework, is an influence from our French partners," says Nauss. "Their store designs are much more compartmentalized, but that isn't how we perceive Americans like to shop. We tried to compromise and provide areas in which customers can catch a glimpse of other parts of the store, which draws them back."

Designers Nancy Webber and Mark MacLachlan combed New York and Los Angeles antique markets for inspiration and found objects to use for visual display. These objects create interest and accentuate the design and construction of the merchandise, while representing the building's art deco style.

The main level of men's features the signature shirt wall, as well as suits, accessories and casual sportswear.

Heading upstairs, shoppers can visually connect with the women's display on the mid-landing. "On the second level, the first thing that greets customers is the women's feature wall, highlighted by backlit French doors," says Huntley. "These custom doors accent all the women's product areas including the new Platine line, while introducing more light into the space to create the ambience of the Mediterranean."

Client: Façonnable, Seattle and Nice, France - Mark Brashear, president.

Design: Nordstrom Store Planning, Seattle - Kevin Nauss, ISP, project manager; Nancy Webber, director, concept design; Mark MacLachlan, men's concept designer; Rosalie Borda, casework coordinator; Susan Morton, ISP, interior design and concepts manager; David Lindsey, FAIA, vp.

Outside Design Consultants: Invisible Circus, Brooklyn, N.Y. (lighting design); Platine concept, Callison, Seattle; Thornton Tomasetti Group, Newark, N.J. (structural engineers); Edwards & Zuck, New York (mechanical engineer); Hargis Engineers, Seattle (plumbing/electrical engineer); Contract Hardware, Seattle (hardware consultant).

Architect: Huntley Architecture, Seattle - Scott Huntley, AIA, principal.

General Contractor: IBEX Construction, New York - Andy Frankl, president.

Suppliers: Leibold Communications, Seattle, Muzak, Ft. Mill, S.C. (audio/ video); Island Acoustics, Islandia, N.Y. (ceilings); Cortina Leathers, New York, Edelman, New Milford, Conn., Great Plains, Chicago, Zimmer + Rohde, Stamford, Conn. (fabrics and wallcoverings); Columbia Showcase & Cabinet, Sun Valley, Calif., Northwest Building Tech, Seattle, Universal Hardware, Toronto (fixturing); IDX, Clayton, Mo. (fixturing, props/ decoratives); San Juan Hardwoods, Poulsbo, Wash. (wood flooring); Innovative Marble and Tile, Hauppauge, N.Y. (stone flooring); Masland Carpet and Rugs, Mobile, Ala. (carpeting); GDM Concepts, Los Angeles, The Mercier Group, Los Angeles (fixturing, furniture, props/decoratives); Kaas Tailored, Mukilteo, Wash. (furniture); Serota Signs, College Point, N.Y. (signage and graphics); Barbizon, Woburn, Mass., Erco Lighting, Edison, N.J., Holly Hunt, Chicago, Lightolier, Fall River, Mass., Visual Lighting Technologies, Mission Viejo, Calif. (lighting); Goldsmith, New York, Adel Rootstein, New York (mannequins); joint, New York (forms); Allied Steel, Seattle, J.F. Chen Antiques, Los Angeles (furniture, props/decoratives); Off-Hand Glass, Seattle, Urban Ease, Seattle, Zell Brothers, Portland, Ore. (props/decoratives); Pearson Millwork, Arlington, Wash. (decorative French doors).

Photography: Bob Zucker, Corporate Photographics, Greenlawn, N.Y.