Place Vendôme is no longer just French
Place Vendôme is no longer just a square in Paris. Soon it will also be Place Vendôme, the most luxurious shopping destination in Qatar, the country with the highest per capita income on the planet, at $140,000 annually.
Infinitely more than a fancy mall, the new Place Vendôme is an example of using fashion and luxury to spearhead possibly the biggest building project in the world. That's the brand new city of Lusail, being built some 20 kilometres north of capital city Doha, in time for the 2022 World Cup.
Lusail will include marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, golf courses and man-made islands in a city with a planned population of 260,000.
Those who shop in Place Vendôme Paris – the deepest concentration of important high jewellery boutiques in the world – will not be unfamiliar with the labels selling in the Qatar mall. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Christian Dior with double-decker stores of some 1,000 square-metres each will greet visitors.
Place Vendôme will not open until September 2017, but its mammoth structure is already in place. From the top, 13th floor of a six-star hotel, one can see the ground works of the Norman Foster-designed Lusail Iconic Stadium, where the World Cup final will be held on December 18, 2022.
Leveraging fashion, Place Vendôme partnered with glossy publisher Condé Nast for the 95th anniversary of French Vogue, presenting a giant model of the mall to fashion and luxury CEOs at the soirée in 51 Avenue d'Iéna in Paris. This March in Milan it sponsored a Vogue Italia issue shot by Steven Klein and edited by the late Franca Sozzani.
Place Vendôme also sponsored the launch of Vogue Arabia (see related story), the latest link-up with fashion in Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art. Both structures are built overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf.
"Christian Dior once said that elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness care and complicity. And I cannot think of a more elegant venue to host the debut of Vogue. While Place Vendôme will be the new home of fashion and elegance in the Middle East. It's a groundbreaking example of the entrepreneurship, vision and energy of our nation's commitment to development," said Aisha Al Thani. This royal princess and executive, with an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, brought many key brands to the mall.
Guests can take trips on Riva speedboats on a canal from the sea that runs into the heart of Place Vendôme – a central open plaza with restaurants, cafés and laser light shows. Using new vapour water jet technology to create a permanently cool environment.
Brands as diverse as Hermès, Tiffany, Fendi, Van Cleef & Arpels and Zadig & Voltaire will retail in the $1.5 billion project.
Inside its 230,000 square-metres of leasable space, the mall includes an 18,000 square-metre family entertainment center, 18 restaurants, 19 cinema screens and a food court in a complex that uncannily mimics the famed Paris square. French architecture has great resonance in this region, where its symmetry appeals to a Middle Eastern sense of graphics.
In America, malls are closing almost weekly, but in Qatar, there are plans to open six more. With temperatures often averaging 45 degrees on Friday evenings, most people don't go to a park, but to a mall. There may only be 300,000 Qataris (whose average monthly luxury spend is $5,000) , but a further 2.6 million ex-patriots live in this former British Protectorate.
"The key factor is getting the entertainment right to increase dwell time. We hope at the weekend families will spend between five to six hours here," explained Irish-born project director Sean Kelly.
Eventually, 5,000 staff will work in Place Vendôme, which is partly owned by the Qatari royal family. To say that malls are destinations in the Persian Gulf would be an understatement. Over 60 million people visited Dubai Mall last year – that's more tourists than visited Italy or Spain.
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