A tour of Celine’s new Paris headquarters
I n the heart of Paris, across the street from the historic cradle of Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Celine has recently opened its new headquarters. For the first time, the company, who under the auspices of Phoebe Philo has become the darling of the fashion world, has united all of its Parisian operations under one roof and can now proudly call itself a maison.
The building that Celine now occupies has a rich historical pedigree. It was built in 1635 by Jacques Tubeuf, a counselor of King Louis XIII. Shortly thereafter, Cardinal Mazarin moved in before buying the building outright in 1649 to house his sprawling art collection and his library. Then, in the 18th Century the building housed the Paris Stock Exchange and went through several incarnations thereafter.
As befitting, the reigning queen of minimalism, the hotel particulier meets you with a subtle "CELINE" carved into its façade. Behind heavy doors there is a stone-paved courtyard, framed by a polished rectangle of the company's headquarters, which include the studio where all Celine samples are made, the showroom and the press and commercial offices.
All these operations used to be spread over three locations in Paris and were finally united into one space in November 2014. The interior of the stunning space, just like everything else at Celine, has been meticulously designed from top to bottom by Phoebe Philo herself.
The ground showroom spaces, where rows of Celine's best-selling bags would set any fashionista's heart aflutter, are starkly lit. They have gray plaster walls and marble parquet floors that mimic the ones in Celine boutiques across the world. The tall ceiling has original wooden beams that are protected as historical heritage.
During our visit the studio, located in the back of the ground floor, was abuzz with a team of expert tailors cutting patterns and carefully hand-sewing sequins onto gowns in preparation for Celine's March show. Philo's design studio is located in London, but all the samples are produced here.
The second floor can be reached by a magnificent spiral staircase that brings you into a room with carved wooden walls — Mazarin's study — that is also a historically protected part of the building. From there one walks through additional showroom space with racks of Philo's cerebral clothes and shoes. Here again, Philo's touch rules everything from the display cases down to the smallest piece of furniture and the flowers that are a constant presence in her world.
Philo is a true auteur in her ability to build not just desirable handbags and clothes, but an aesthetically unique universe, and the new Celine headquarters are a culmination of her formidable creative abilities.
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