Swiss Style Magazine’s special report of Switzerland’s Magnificent Kilometres would not be complete if it lacked the presentation of some of the brands that make La rue du Rhône what it is.
Located in a city that features an extremely high retail sales ratio, the world’s highest purchasing power after Zurich, as well as a large contingent of luxury consumers from Middle Eastern cultures, Rue du Rhône and its contingent Rue Basses are an exceptionally appealing location for international brands. These venues’ appeal is also attributed to the area’s affinity for Anglo Saxon culture and the region’s multicultural population. Luxury brands that have opted to open branches in Geneva over the past few years are numerous and stand proudly beside stores of long standing. Along the length and width of these streets, one can peruse some of the world’s most sought after labels, and owning a boutique here is an absolute must. But this is a costly venture as per square metre rents are amongst the highest in the world.
It makes sense that brands go out of their way to offer a remarkable experience coupled with exceptional knowledge of their product and the regularity of setting and keeping such a high benchmark must be kept at all cost.
Our editorial team, steered by Danièle Megardon, our publication’s Business of Luxury’s guiding light, has chosen a selected group of brandowned boutiques that not only fly the colours of headquarters but, more importantly, bring that most important of elements of human engagement: the personal touch.
Topping off this list of unique boutiques on Rue du Rhône is Hermès’ flagship store, which opened in November of 2011. Located on the bank of rue Général Guisan on the lakeshore at the corner of Rhône and Céard streets, the seven-story building towers over the cobblestone streets. Built in 1946 by Marc-Joseph Saugey, the Hermès boutique provides access to 500 m2 of shopping area for its clients and opens three out of its seven floors to the public. With tall windows and a perfectly symmetrical main entrance from the rue du Rhône side, sided by two large showcases bearing homage to its sister boutique in Paris, the Hermès flagship store clearly reflects the Parisian spirit. In this jewellery box of a setting, the floor of the main entrance is a mosaic encrusted with the bookplates of Hermès house.
The entry level in the store is dedicated to silk, perfumes, accessories and men’s wear. The first floor is dedicated to the ladies universe as well as the watch and jewellery department. Furniture varies from glass to wood lined with brown leather and the floor is carpeted light grey; coupled with walls the colour of rich cream, the boutique sets out to create a serene ambiance. This store’s look and feel is unexpected; it is more of a collection of living spaces where the layout departs from the realm of traditional retailing in order to create a Hermès experience. Even more unique, the light fixtures that highlight certain products throughout the first two floors were specially designed for Hermès in 1925, showcasing the long history Hermès has in fashion.
On the second floor, Hermès presents the art of indoor living, leisure as well as its famous leather goods department, including the iconic Hermès handbags and luxurious luggage. Thierry Outin, General Manager of Hermès Switzerland, controls Swiss operations from the top floors of the building. “We have been in Geneva for many decades and this shop reflects our philosophy, which our Geneva customers well understand. The people here cannot be bluffed by marketing clamor. We live in a country of quality and we aspire to offer our customers quality products. In the world of luxury, there are instances of the artificial, the useless and the ostentatious. Switzerland corresponds to our culture: discreet elegance.”
Rue du Rhône 39
Phone: +41 22 819 07 19
The Montblanc Flagship Boutique
Montblanc boutique manager Gaël Gregolin shows off the Rotalis, a unique precision watch winder for 60 Watches, available at the company’s shops in Hong Kong and Geneva.
Montblanc has forged a strong bond with Switzerland. Its timepieces are manufactured in Le Locle, in the Swiss Jura mountains, and its collections have been exhibited at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva since 1997. Accordingly, the Geneva boutique is in a prime position to display the watches, writing instruments, leather goods and accessories on which the brand has built its reputation. Gregolin: “We aim to follow Montblanc’s philosophy of respect to craftsmanship to our customers and collaborators”
At its helm, manager Gaël Gregolin, a seasoned professional of the jewellery and watch industry, has surrounded himself with an expert team of professionals capable of guiding even the most demanding customer with refinement and a superb attention to detail across all products.
The strategic importance of the Genevan Flagship boutique is made evident by the capital investment that was necessary to relocate it to its current position near Place Longemalle and, perhaps not completely coincidentally, across from Geneva’s Mont Blanc bridge. ‘We took over this site within a classified neo-classical building of the 1830’s and spent over a year negotiating the leases and revamping the boutique at great expense. When we opened in 2008, the result was, in my opinion, an imposing yet appealing shop where our products are available on over 200 m2 on two levels. Having visited all our product line workshops, I believe that our boutique well represents Montblanc’s philosophy of respect for craftsmanship.”
The presentation of each product line is organized in separate sections of the boutique with discrete and quiet VIP areas. On a more informal note, the occasional visitor will immediately notice the commanding Rotalis, a unique precision watch winder for 60 watches. “The fact that we harbour this rare and exceptional instrument is further proof of the importance of our presence in Geneva,” explains a confident Gregolin, “as Rotalis is only available here and at our Flagship shop in Hong Kong.”
Place du Port 1,
Phone: +41 22 312 27 70
Boutique Jaeger LeCoultre
Luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre has been a key feature on the Rue du Rhône since 2005 and it holds a particular place within the brand’s universe. It is an integral part of the Grande Maison of the Vallée de Joux.
Connoisseurs and Jaeger-LeCoultre enthusiasts visiting the Boutique, located at 2, rue du Rhône, will be able to appreciate the watchmaker’s expertise and the high-end finishing of Jaeger- LeCoultre timepieces.
The Boutique is designed for easy browsing of the collection as well as for more private interactions. In 2010, a new exclusive area was created – a meeting point for watch connoisseurs and aficionados – that offers a perfect environment for a confidential encounter with boutique director Isabelle Boutantin and her team. Here is where you can discover exceptional Haute Horlogerie creations representing almost 180 years of history of the Grande Maison of the Vallée de Joux filled with world premieres, outstanding achievements, over 1,000 calibers and about 400 patents.
Designed in the best traditions of the Vallée de Joux, this beautiful showcase brings together the treasures of watch making expertise and innovation. You can admire collections that are the result of passion and the joint efforts of over 1,000 people that work today under the roof of the Manufacture and produce over 50 different calibres including the smallest and the most complicated ones in the world.
From its origins in 1833, Jaeger- LeCoultre Manufacture maintained a special connection with Geneva. It was in the Cité de Calvin in early spring that Antoine LeCoultre used to bring the winter “produce” of his Manufacture. In 1853 he founded a workshop at 2, rue du Mont-Blanc to finish the movement kits destined for export to the United States. Visiting the Boutique 180 years later will be an eye-opening and pleasurable experience.
Rue du Rhône 2
Phone: +41 22 310 61 50
The Leonard fashion house has been present on the rue du Rhône for over 13 years and over that time has been the perfect embassy for the world renowned marque’s ready-to-wear women’s clothing and shoes, as well as porcelain and furnishings bearing the “La Maison de Leonard” style.
Leonard was founded in 1958 by Daniel Tribouillard, the brilliant inventor of the then new “Fully-Fashioned” printing process for pullovers. After learning the trade by creating exclusive models for Lanvin, Dior and Hermés, he launched his first collection of silk jersey garments for his own “Leonard” brand, dedicated to his passion for garden flowers, and in 1970 opened his first exclusive boutique in Paris. He enjoyed instant success.
Ms Meriguet, the knowledgeable and warm manager of the Geneva boutique, smiles when referring to Tribouillard motto ‘Luxury Is Not Enough’. “I agree with him,” she says, “the article of clothing must enhance the beauty of a woman. Her jersey silk dress must whisk her off to a foreign land without having to fret about its upkeep. We are proud to uphold this family business’ philosophy, especially here on Rue du Rhône, a market that is essentially composed of a cosmopolitan and eclectic population.”
Rue du Rhône 40
Phone: +41 22 312 40 23
Article by Raymond Langley