By Nadya Masidlover
As the euro-zone crisis risks taking some of the sparkle from Christmas, Parisian department store Printemps is hoping that Asian tourists will make this holiday season a very merry one.
This year, for the first time in the chain’s history, Printemps has used a Chinese model for its all-important winter holiday season advertising campaign. The operation, carried out in association with storied French fashion house Dior, aims to further tap in on demand from the growing number of Asian tourists in France’s capital city.
Speaking last week, a few hours before Printemps’s flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann unveiled its Paris-themed Christmas window dressings, Printemps Chief Executive Paolo de Cesare said that the campaign is “a way to tell the world that Paris is a destination for everyone.”
The publicity shots, featuring rising oriental star Sui He, highlight how Asian travelers flocking to Europe’s major cities have become a key client for luxury purveyors in Europe, as economic turbulence amid the euro-zone crisis weighs on budgets of local customers.
In Paris’s 9th arrondissement department stores and other high-end goods outlets across the city, crowds of Chinese and other international tourists are helping to generate double-digit-percentage growth for fashion labels. For Printemps, which has never concealed its desire to appeal to Chinese tourists visiting France’s capital, the winter holiday season is another opportunity to welcome an increasingly international customer base.
In recent years, the Parisian store—which does around a quarter of its business in the run-up to Christmas—has repositioned to offer much higher-end products. It has invested in an overhaul both inside and out and hired around 100 new staff members to provide new services to clients.
“We are attracting spending power from everywhere in the world and that is clearly the right place to be in the current crisis environment,” said Mr. De Cesare, adding that the average purchase on the ground floor of the store has jumped to 600 euros from 60 euros over the past five years.
This year’s Christmas campaign will be visible on billboards in Paris, on the Printemps website and also on the stores’ shopping bags, which are taken home by oversees customers, often becoming collector items, says Mr. De Cesare.
The 11 Paris-inspired window dressings—which are expected to be seen by around 10 million people—were inaugurated by Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. The marionettes in each animated window display were handmade at Dior’s couture atelier, explained the store’s creative director Franck Banchet.
Each doll wears emblematic looks from the house of Dior, with looks from different eras of the label, said Mr. Banchet.
The project, which has been in the pipeline for over a year, has weathered a change in designers at Dior, following the exit of John Galliano, who was later replaced by Raf Simons.
The fashion house considers the partnership with Printemps as a way to show the label’s high quality craftsmanship, said Dior President and Chief Executive Sidney Toledano, adding: “Millions of people will pass by, not all of them will be Dior clients. But what we want to do is make people dream.”