Saint Laurent is trying something new with its physical spaces now, with the opening of its Rive Droite stores in Paris and Los Angeles. But store might be a tad reductive – the brand calls it a “creative and cultural destination curated by [Creative Director] Anthony Vaccarello".

The name, of course, is a play on the historic Saint Laurent Rive Gauche store that was first launched in 1966 on the – duh – left bank of the Seine in Paris. That historic venture was the first time a couturier, working and showing at the heights of French fashion, had entered – and effectively legitimized – the ready to wear market. You didn’t have to order an Yves Saint Laurent any longer, you could simply walk into a store and pick a dress off the rails.

That’s all a matter of history, though, now that e-commerce and social media have entirely disrupted the modes and methods of fashion retail and selling. When you can order nearly everything online, what’s the point of making a trip to a store? The answer most everyone is leaning towards now is the cultivation of an ‘experience’. Physical spaces still have the incomparable power to influence and create ambience, mood – strong associations that designers and brands are eager to forge.

A sheet of stickers created as part of the 25th anniversary of Self Service magazine, exclusive to Saint Laurent Rive Droite.
Saint Laurent-branded everything: from left, a corkscrew, a refillable brass lighter made in collaboration with Tsubota Pearl, and matchsticks – presumably for cigarettes and scented candles.

Saint Laurent’s Rive Droite is one such approach – wherein the focus is not just on the clothes and accessories, but on a wide range of books, vintage, music, photography, art, performances, exhibitions, and events. It is, in essence, a creative space ripe for expression and utilisation. It’s all still new, and Saint Laurent seems primed to offer homeware, sportswear, and stationery in addition to knick-knacks like Saint Laurent-branded cigarette matches (can you say le smoking?) and, most amusingly, a fully-functioning video game arcade machine.

The interior is a bit of an evolution from standard Saint Laurent store designs too. Yes, the sleek steel and marble is still omnipresent, but there is a welcome inclusion of furniture with a more inviting mid-century feel. There’s even a wooden table with seats on which you can sit to browse the books on display (and sale).

A silk scarf with the image of Kate Moss, created in collaboration with Self Service magazine for its 25th anniversary exclusively for sale at Saint Laurent Rive Droite.

And if you’re just looking to shop – no judgment there – Saint Laurent is amping up the experience with special edition designs exclusive to the Rive Droite spaces. The real value of popping by one of these spaces, though, is in looking at the music and books that Anthony Vaccarello and the brand have selected and curated – that’s much more interesting than another shirt on a hanger, and certainly something you’d be hard pressed to experience online.

Saint Laurent’s Rive Droite spaces are located in 213, rue saint Honoré 75001 Paris, and as an extension at 469 Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles.