A Mad Max exterior, a penchant for policeman caps, and a mad obsession with motorcycles and biker leather, are things you wouldn’t normally associate with someone who has built opulent flagship stores for big-name luxury labels.
Meet Peter Marino. He is 62 years old, has a trim, jet-black Mohawk and goatee, and is Chanel’s Global Retail Architect. Often described as the undisputed monarch of the design world, Marino has worked on Chanel flagships worldwide from Sydney to SoHo, before transforming a 118-year-old heritage building on King Street into Perth’s first Chanel boutique in December 2012.
Chanel’s global CEO, Maureen Chiquet, has worked with Marino on several retail projects and notes that the New York-based architect studies what’s on display at Karl Lagerfeld’s runway shows in the Grand Palais from the front row before infusing this inspiration into his boutique designs.
With luxury brands becoming bigger and more opulent in their finishes, Marino fills the design brief by communicating a lifestyle that evokes a romantic notion of desire. Says Marino, “It's aspirational. If a customer comes in and just buys a $40 lipstick, it doesn't matter. Her impression of Chanel is what's important.”
When it came to designing Perth’s Chanel boutique, Marino brought a Parisian-toned luxe to 39 King Street; preserving the original building façade whilst espousing a modern interpretation of the French fashion house’s design codes.
Using a très Chanel palette of black, gold, ivory, and beige, the design plays composite glass off Parisian-inspired white awnings, with stone flooring drawing classic lines and subtle gold accents. With a floor plan of 200sqm, the luxury boutique offers an experience unlike any other, drawing inspiration from signature icons of the house and from materials reminiscent of the brand.
As you enter the Perth Chanel boutique through the glass doors, leather goods, shoes and accessories, costume jewellery and an edited selection of watches await in line with Chanel global launches. The Ready-To-Wear area tucked away up a short flight of steps; designed in such a way that it feels like one’s very own dressing room. The private VIP fitting room features a portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel by artist Louis Heilbronn, complete with personal lounge with sensibilities reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon apartment in Paris.
Marino’s luxury design philosophy is simple: Create stores that are cool and contemporary but also subtly envelop you in the brand's heritage. As far as Chanel’s Perth boutique goes, Marino has left no stone unturned; creating a flagship store that proclaims the brand’s value by custom-make everything from the furniture and hand-sewn curtains to specially commissioned art. The genius of a Marino store might be that you move through it without being assaulted by anything specifically overwhelming and are instead overtaken by a feeling of affluence, efficiency, comfort, and calm.
As Marino says, “We’re trying to create desire from the very first moment a person walks in.”