There’s a fresh new retail store on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan that will temporarily transport you from the frenzy of the city to the countryside of Provence. The French beauty brand L’Occitane has opened a new flagship location with a new concept format, and it’s a happy refreshing experience of sunshine, lemons, and lavender.
The stretch of Fifth Avenue between 45th and 50th is becoming a new beauty corridor. Saks has relaunched its Beauty Floor with lots of new brands and interactive technology. Sephora has a large store a couple of blocks away at 48th Street. And now L’Occitane has a new three-story flagship, which just opened last week.
The new space at 555 Fifth Avenue caught our eye as we passed it recently, and we popped in to see what the brand has in mind for this latest iteration of its collection of soaps, hand creams, skin care and home fragrances.
The first thing that struck us was the ice-cold water displayed prominently at the entrance – New York was experiencing an August heatwave that day, with a “real feel” of 100 degrees plus, so that alone made us positively disposed to loving this new space. Micro-luxuries, like ice cold citrus-infused water on a blazing hot day, are what makes life more joyful.
The next thing we noticed was the shower. It’s a clever amenity that allows shoppers to sample various products and then wash them off so that they can try others.
The store is a wash of vibrant yellow, fresh greenery, and cool white. It may be the rain forest shower and the ice water that start the sensation, but the entire experience feels . . . refreshing.
The store has a nice mix of the natural and the high-tech. There’s a live tree in the center of the store, and there are also lots of interactive tools and displays, including a virtual reality headset that can make you feel that you’re in a lavender field in Provence.
We love the hand cream bar, which has a vast array of fragrances from which to choose. We try to keep one of these tubes in our bag during the dry winter months at all times – this is going to make it really hard to choose just one.
Of course there’s an obligatory Instagram photo station, and it reinforces the theme of a carefree sunny day in the South of France: three yellow bikes are clustered together, and you can even don a broad-brimmed straw hat with a grosgrain ribbon while you pose for your selfie or group photo.
The store offers more services than the typical L’Occitane: for example, you can get a mini-facial on a walk-in basis.
We left feeling cheerful after our brief visit, despite the punishing heat awaiting us outside the door. Millennial pink may still be the most popular hue, but after this experience, we’re feeling that yellow is definitely making a comeback. Nice job, L’Occitane! And thanks for the ice water.