Sophie Hong, Galerie de Montpensier, Palais Royal, Paris
Sophie Hong should have opened her Paris boutique at the Palais Royal in one of the prestigious commercial galleries that line three sides of the site’s magnificent architectural ensemble ought not to come as a surprise. The Palais Royal, at once a garden, a park and a national monument, is something of an island in the heart of the city. A secret island which could well stand as a metaphor for Sophie Hong’s own island home, Taiwan.
Instead she chose the Galerie de Montpensier at the Palais Royal meant embracing not just a beautiful place but also a tradition going back to the creation of that place in the seventeenth century. Ever since Cardinal de Richelieu decided in 1629 to have it built (work was completed in 1636), the Palais Royal has always been a particularly animated space. Today it it is a classified as a ‘national domain’. Power and pleasure, politics and spectacle have always been a part of its history.
Sophie Hong’s shop, at number 3 of the Galerie de Montpensier, is very small: eleven square metres to be precise. The young architect and scenographer Nelson Wilmotte has reinvented and rethought the interior. He did not touch the the features that create the charm of these establishments: the ancient woodwork and the narrow shop-windows, some 50 centimeters deep, where Sophie Hong plans to display the small objects and jewellery that she also designs.
Nor did he alter the floor of black-and-white tiling, plain and authentic. His main preoccupation was the back wall. A large semi-opaque sheet of glass now shields its entire surface. Behind it is a set of screens onto which images can be projected. Images of model garments signed Sophie Hong. Past parades.
Landscapes. These moving images present a floating world which is never clearly visible but flickers continually behind the glass. In front of the glass are two supports spanning the room, one upright, the other on the floor. The clothes will hang here, a symphony of materials, tones, forms. As for trying those clothes on, the ingenious Nelson Wilmotte has devised a concealable cabin near the front of the shop; it has a double curtain and, when closed, occupies no more space than the pieces of wood furniture adjacent next to it. A black shutter in lacquered wood closes the shop off from the gallery without. The shop is in effect a cabinet of precious woods subtly lit by the play of the projected images behind the glass, the very fine natural light of the Palais Royal, and that of delicate lighting discreetly integrated into the overall effect.
3, galerie de Montpensier
75001 Paris, France
10:30 ~ 18:30
Monday to Saturday
Tel: +33 9 54 73 32 50