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A cult of avid fans follows the French fashion brand helmed by creative director Phoebe Philo and CEO Marco Gobbetti. Now it is making history with a new headquarters in one of Paris’s storied buildings
ON PARIS’S TINY rue Vivienne, a stone’s throw from the Palais-Royal, the regal pile built by Cardinal Richelieu as his home nearly 400 years ago, sits a smaller yet equally stately neoclassical mansion known as the Hôtel Colbert de Torcy. Behind its limestone facade, the walls have witnessed their fair share of French history. Constructed in the mid-17th century, the building was originally owned by Jacques Tubeuf, a financial advisor to the absolutist King Louis XIII and a close confidant of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the Machiavellian godfather to the Sun King, Louis XIV.
Today, fashion aristocracy has moved in. Céline, the influential LVMH-owned fashion and accessories brand, has made the hôtel particulier its first Parisian maison. An extensive gut-renovation was recently completed, transporting the space back to its former glory, under the direction of the discreet and finely attuned British creative director Phoebe Philo. Together with chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti, she has led the 70-year-old brand to new heights, with revenue increasing fourfold since their arrival in 2008. But Céline, which was founded in 1945 and became part of LVMH in 1996, didn’t have a headquarters that matched the level of its influence. With its arrival at 16 rue Vivienne, it has finally joined the major houses whose addresses are part of Paris’s fashion landscape, such as Chanel at 31 rue Cambon, Dior at 30 avenue Montaigne and Hermès at 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
“This is home, basically,” says Gobbetti, 56. “Our project has been about building a house more than a brand. From that point of view, this building represents the foundation and where we come from. It is solid with an element of timelessness.” […]