After 20 years in service, the Paris concept store Colette is due to close its doors on Wednesday 20 December, marking the end of an era in which it radically revamped the face of French art de vivre, made streetwear high fashion, and redefined what shops could be.
Situated on the Rue Saint-Honoré, it was opened in 1997 by Colette Rousseaux and her daughter, Sarah Andelman. Back then, it faced a city that was, according to Andelman, “totally dead. Today it feels totally natural to mix fashion, food, lifestyle.”
When the store opened, it made a startling impact, with a style in direct contrast to the country’s fashion history and its couture houses. But this, say fans, was precisely its draw. The Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld said last year that it was the only shop he frequented, “because they have things no one else has”.
The week before it closes is quite a scene. The usual clientele – hip young things, looking to stock up on rare Balenciaga merchandise – have been replaced by a clientele broader than ever before. The shop assistants tell me it feels like a “tourist attraction”. There isn’t room to move beside the coffee-table books, and the sense of urgency is palpable. Most popular are items with the famed Colette blue dots logo — T-shirts, baseball caps, key rings, lighters. They are all “flying off the shelves”, the staff explain. No doubt these items will reappear online at outrageous prices soon after, all to be collectors’ items.
“I can’t believe it is closing – Colette felt so ingrained in the Parisian landscape. It had brought a sense of the avant-garde that the local fashion scene had never seen before, and which no other boutique can offer in the same way to this day,” said Mélody Thomas, a Paris-based journalist who writes for the likes of fashion magazines L’Officiel and Jalouse, and went to the store a few days ago looking for Glossier beauty products, which Colette stocks exclusively. Read More …