Enter the world of J.M. Weston and get swept up in the magic of the Gaumont Ambassade. loci anima, the designer of this pop-up store unlike any other, brings two French houses together. This unique shopping experience reveals the ties between the values held by J.M. Weston and a certain idea of cinema championed by Gaumont, in a staging that combines movement and freeze frames, flamboyance and restraint, that is ephemeral yet designed to last… and take the customer a long way, like Weston footwear.
A new J.M. Weston store on the Champs-Elysées
Before the Gaumont Ambassade cinema begins a new chapter in its story, J.M. Weston is slipping into its world to offer an unprecedented experience: a pop-up store in a cinema. These two top French houses did not meet by chance: emerging towards the close of the 19th century, pioneers of French excellence – whether the cinema or unique know-how – both convey a distinct vision of creativity and elegance, combining great classics and brand new creations, a timeless feel and contemporary influences, to bring cult creations to birth.
Like Gaumont, J.M. Weston has forged its independence based on the desire to accompany the freest journeys and bolster the paths of a singular life, those that lead to a highly distinguished form of self-fulfilment.
With this side step, J.M. Weston is showcasing a curious introspection on an avenue that since 1932 has played home to its second historic address, and whose Arc de Triomphe still adorns its logo today. However, the years have passed on the Champs-Élysées, which – since Jean Seberg strolled along it with her New York Herald Tribune – had lost the cultural shine of the “Bande du Drugstore” mods. This chapter now seems to be closed: the Champs-Elysées is buzzing with creativity with bold projects designed by top star architects from BIG to Jean Nouvel. J.M. Weston is thus keeping one step ahead (as is famously its wont) and offering this unprecedented shopping experience on an avenue it knows well.
J.M. Weston slips into a cinema setting
In a nod to Jules-Etienne Marey, who invented chronophotography in 1891, the very year when the Limoges brand was founded, the store attracts the eye of passers-by with 24 images/second deconstructing the step of a figure wearing J.M. Weston loafers. They are captured by an original short film on the creation of the shoe and a video wall representing the house’s know-how.
In the hallway, they discover J.M. Weston’s key designs (shoes, large and small leather goods, accessories) presented in J.M. Weston-branded flight cases: they are at once an evocation of travel, a concrete way of emphasising the exhibition’s future roving itinerary and an illustration of the house’s attitude. The sweet chestnut wood on the floor seems to take over the walls: the setting is organic, devoted to fine and authentic materials; the entire front of the former cinema has been transformed into an exhibition space.
The visitor then takes the main staircase to discover a large room transformed into a fitting room at the top of the stairs. The designs are the stars here: lit by a shower of light and identified with a brass plaque bearing their name, they are bathed in a cinematographic aura. The star among stars, the red Gaumont loafer specially produced by J.M. Weston celebrates this rapport with Gaumont and falls within the tradition of a passionate encounter, as we have seen previously with Frank Gehry, Martin Szekely and Kris van Assche.
Customers, who have played an active role in creating the legend, try on their designs in a cinema in the style of a film club, true to the intimate and generous atmosphere of J.M. Weston stores. And the purchase is completed on the stage, once the shoes have been re-waxed and prepared as is the custom. The special orders service is presented in a separate room, conducive to the tradition of advice for which the house is renowned.
A loci anima scenario
The architect Françoise Raynaud and her loci anima band are taking over the Gaumont on the Champs-Élysées. The agency has taken a close look at J.M. Weston’s codes and put forward a revelatory installation, sensitive to the brand’s history and its time-honoured codes. It offers the visitor a space outside of time, in which authenticity and extravagance combine, where you can hear the whisper of the story that you tell yourself and others when you walk towards your destiny wearing a pair of Westons.
True to its insistence on restraint, the agency has come up with a perfectly durable installation with intense effects despite a frugal economy: the flight cases presenting the collections will be used to transport this exhibition to the next destinations, the furnishings and configuration of the cinema becoming one with the staging design in a tailor-made approach of which the shoemaker is fond.
J.M. Weston, a house on the move
Historically established on boulevard de Courcelles, it was at 114 avenue des Champs-Elysées that J.M. Weston opened its second Parisian address in 1932. As this address is closing its doors for good in the autumn, the Limoges house is stopping off at Gaumont for a one-year freeze frame that is a prelude to a new address on the Champs-Elysées. Forging a path between a timeless and modern approach, J.M. Weston is exploring a host of adventures in new territories: the house has just got a foothold in the Marais with a boutique on rue des Archives, which extends a new store concept initiated in 2013, at 243 rue Saint-Honoré in Paris.
Location: 50 avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris 8e, France
Area: 1,015 sqm
Client: J.M. WESTON
Architects: loci anima