Regular readers know we’re fond of saying that everything can be upgraded. Case in point? Worlds away from tawdry shops frequented by men in overcoats, Kiki de Montparnasse has turned the sex shop into an erotic boutique. Adopting the stage name of Alice Prin, a nightclub singer/model/painter who was photographer Man Ray’s muse and lover in 1920s Paris, Kiki’s Lower Manhattan store is anything but sleazy. Described as ‘Madame de Pompadour meets Monica Vitti’, the store is luxuriously furnished and dimly lit. An inviting entrance resembles an upmarket lingerie boutique, and stylish creations in French lace and silk satin lead the way to sophisticated objects of desire. Glass cases hold handmade whips and ‘restraining arts’ kits in crocodile leather with gold hardware; elegant Kiki-branded toys include a vibe bejewelled with Swarovski crystals, which also adorn tasselled pasties. Opened last month, Kiki de Montparnasse isn’t the first company to provide a luxurious take on sensual products. London’s Coco de Mer, an erotic emporium founded by Anita ‘Body Shop’ Roddick’s daughter Samantha, sells a host of decadent toys and undergarments, and works with craftsmen that are usually employed by haute couture designers. Swedish Lelo crafts sculptural toys from luxurious materials, and San Francisco-based Jimmyjane sells a Little Something (an ‘elegant and seductive accessory’) that comes in gold and platinum and be personalized with etched words of love. Or lust. The limited edition features engravings inspired by 18th century sailor tattoos. For those entrepreneurs who can create the right combination of playful, provocative, seductive and chic, this is a high-margin market ripe for the picking.