Bally’s revival through Swiss modernism

Owned since 2013 by JAB Holdings (Germany family which controls Coty & Benckiser), Swiss luxury goods house of BALLY has had a rocky ride in the past decade, losing its once coveted Swiss Made competitive advantage especially in its Creative Direction.
With the appointment last year of a new CEO, Frédéric de Narp (formerly CEO of Harry Winston), and a new creative director, Pablo Coppola, Bally is keen to reconnect with its 164-year-old heritage, particularly its associations with Swiss modernism. De Narp has been seen by many industry analysts as a non-conventional CEO, sometimes even ‘rebellious’, fact reconfirmed by the fact that Harry Winston’s new owners, the Swatch Group, did not retain De Narp.
After a major overhaul of BALLY’s product categories and a fresh injection of a sophisticated glam creative approach, Bally has been slowly but surely re-emerging as a world leading luxury leather-goods player. The trimmed new product offering focuses on leather goods (the core of the Bally DNA), mainly bags and shoes. Metallic leather sneakers, lambskin coats, padded jackets, snake-skin pumps are just some of the striking Bally novelties.
The ‘silent introduction’ of a wide range of the Bowling Ladies’ handbags is a subtle testing of a potential future IT handbag. Bally’s traditional ladies’ business handbags such has also been refreshed with yet another ‘contender’ for an IT bag, the Berkeley.
The opening of BALLY new global flagship in London (New Bond Street) this past October was a powerful statement sustaining the brand’s global ambitions. In a world of look-alike lackluster retail concepts, BALLY enlisted British architect David Chipperfield, who is also (at least in part) for Valentino’s spectacular revival in the past years, especially since it was acquired by a Qatari investment fund. Chipperfield was inspired by an old Bally store in Spiez, Switzerland designed by Marcel Breuer recognized as one of the master modernists.’Breuer designed the most inspiring Bally store and it is from there that some of the ideas for this new store concept are elaborated,’ says Chipperfield. He has taken two clear cues from Breuer: the use of stock walls, ranks of pigeonholes for shoes in boxes – the historical heart of the Bally brand – to create striking display grids; and bespoke tubular steel furniture.*

The stock walls are much like Breuer’s, but Chipperfield has also played with three-dimensional gridded American walnut display walls. And stock walls, left unbacked and unstocked, have also been used to create transparent frame walls. Working with a continuous white resin and stucco ceiling and a floor of grey wool and hemp carpet, the store has a pared-down super-functionality, but with the walnut adding essential warmth. Display tables, mirrors and footstools, meanwhile, take Breuer’s tubular metal method and run with it. A new bent metal Bally lamp updates a striking Breuer design.*

Making sure that the store design is more than a sophisticated Bauhaus tribute act, Chipperfield has also introduced sofas, armchairs and pouffes inspired by the works of the Italian designers Ignazio Gardella and Luigi Caccia Dominioni of the 1960s. The store also includes what Bally has tagged the Gentleman’s Corner, including special services and its own lounge area.*

*text adapted from
Oliver Petcu in London