Lower Mainland fans of iconic Quebec City retailer Simons have one more reason to rejoice: they’re now open in West Van! The Park Royal location is Simons’ 11th store, the second outside of its home province of Quebec. The two-level, 100,000 square foot location sits prominently in the redeveloped area of Park Royal South.
I attended the media preview ahead of the opening party on Wednesday evening, in a room already buzzing after news that the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers, taking the ADLS in an epic battle of post-season survival. The department store is filled with beautiful and eclectic collections from local and international designers alike.
CEO Peter Simons believes that it’s important to build relationships with designers, creating meaningful assortments showcasing both large and small collections. With offices in fashion-forward cities such as Paris, Florence, Korea and Tokyo, Simons is not particularly a brand-focused store but would rather offer a good mix of styles to suit all tastes.
Having been to the Montreal and Quebec City stores, I was expecting a similar interior experience however I was pretty impressed by three unique art installations that grace the building:
Kayachtun (meaning welcome), is a sandblasted granite relief on the exterior south entrance of the store. Created by Coast Salish artist Jody Broomfield, the design pays homage to the Spakwus (translating to eagle) symbolizing great power and spiritual protection. Its wings represent the traditional Salish greeting gesture, a perfectly symmetrical design demonstrating the connection between the spiritual and living worlds.
At the core of women’s apparel is Bobbie Burgers’ ceramic wall sculpture, Innocence Disobedience, representing feminine rebellion. More than 50 flowers in brilliantly hued blues, greys, whites and black in various stages of decay float precariously off the wall showing both strength and resilience. Burgers is a West Vancouver painter and sculptor known for her exquisite floral interpretations.
West Vancouver’s own visual artist, designer and author Douglas Coupland is represented with Bow Tie, a sculpture that fills the store’s central atrium. Two brightly-coloured striped cones meet at a nearly imperceptible point, providing a striking reference to fashion, culture and engineering.
Simon’s exterior is created by architectural firm Lemay Michaud. The repeating chevron pattern appears on off-white concrete panels stacked like blankets – some vertical, some horizontal – to create the façade. The firm was inspired by the Squamish nation, particularly Salish weaving. Adding to the exterior’s visual appeal is the offset second floor whose Northwest corner juts out at the main glass atrium entrance.
Designstead, the retail design firm behind Simons’ Park Royal store, artfully knit together a series of intimate boutiques to create one holistic shopping experience that is approachable, accessible, style savvy and filled with eye-catching design elements.
The main floor focuses on women’s apparel with three main areas: Twik (a fun assortment for younger shoppers), Icône (high-end, striking fashion pieces) and Contemporaine (career and casual wear).
Simons’ extensive collection of accessories acts as a pivot point in the centre of each floor; as well, Edito boutiques house Simons’ bold selections from international designers including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Kenzo and Balmain. Both men’s and women’s areas include activewear in iFive.
Upstairs, Djab, the young men’s department stands out as it appears almost unfinished with wood walls and plywood ceilings containing exposed fasteners and oversized lighting. Le 31 is a bit dressier for nights on the town.
Maison is dedicated to home and kitchen. For a shopping break, 50-seater Ève will offer light meals and desserts with a south-facing location looking out towards Lions Gate Bridge and Ambleside Park. Ève is also home to 15-pieces student art exhibit from Arts Umbrella, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization fostering creativity through performance, visual and media arts programs for local youth.
If you’re headed there this weekend, there’s a bunch of fun events planned from morning maple bacon popcorn in the cafe to mural painting at the entrance. Get into the photo booth with Photostar in the Twik department.
Simons was founded in 1840 by John Simons as a dry goods store in Quebec City and has since built a reputation on being an accessible and inspired fashion brand. Led by brothers Peter and Richard Simons, Simons carries on the family legacy and brand commitment to cultivating creativity and building meaningful relationships with staff, partners and customers. It sells both exclusive and innovative private label brands for men and women, complimented by a selection of national brands, discovery brands from around the world as well as an edited collection of international designers.
Unwatermarked photos by Evaan.