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Culture

Paris’s colette, the ‘trendiest store in the world’, bids adieu after 20 years

© Philippe Lopez, AFP | People walk past the entrance of the colette concept store in Paris ahead of its definitive closure on December 20, 2017

Text by Louise NORDSTROM

Latest update : 2017-12-21

The Paris boutique that was once branded "the trendiest store in the world”, colette, shut its doors for the very last time on Wednesday, wrapping up a 20-year-long journey that many claim inspired a whole generation of fashionistas.

“The first time I walked into @colette I was 15 years old and according to my father it was ‘only for 5 minutes, any longer and I'll end up paying for something’,” colette aficionado Hunter Abrams said in an emotional Instagram post published on the eve of the iconic store’s closure.

“Over the 10 years since, I've more than made up for those initial 5 minutes. I discovered countless art books that now call my shelves home, I have drooled over clothes I could never afford, I even once brought a Tinder date there. You were more than a store you were my escape. Au revoir Colette et Merci @sarahandelman,” he wrote.

Located on rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement (district), right in the beating heart of Paris, colette – the brand's name deliberately spelled in lowercase – became a “must-visit” for anyone seeking to put their finger on the Parisian trend-setting pulse. It drew crowds from all over the world, including celebrities like Rihanna, Pharrell and Zlatan, who came to experience its unique universe of blending fashion, street art, beauty products, jewelry and high-tech gadgets under the same roof, not to mention its famous water bar which contains some 80 different varieties of the blue stuff.

Launchpad for young designers

Colette Roussaux founded the 700-square-metre, three-storey boutique with her daughter Sarah Andelman in 1997 with the aim of reinventing “the concept of retail” by offering “exclusivities, pre-releases, limited editions, established designers, new talents and even forgotten labels” in an “inimitable mix and match”. In addition to becoming a launchpad for promising, yet undiscovered, designers, colette also became known for only offering exclusive, one-of-a-kind versions of a product, making virtually anything on sale there a collectible.

“Some stores promise to make you feel rich or elegant or even smart. Colette promises to make you feel like you were there first,” culture critic Cody Delistraty wrote in article published in Garage Magazine earlier this week.

While Forbes Magazine in 2005 dubbed colette “the trendiest store in the world”, German designer Karl Lagerfeld once said: "It’s the only shop where I go because they have things no one else has. I buy watches, telephones, jewelry there - everything really. They have invented a formula that you can’t copy easily, because there is only one Colette, and her and Sarah are 200 percent involved."

Applause and tears

But on July 12 this year, Roussaux and Andelman announced colette’s closure. “As all good things must come to an end, after twenty wonderful years, colette will be closing its doors on December 20 of this year. Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time,” the duo wrote in a statement, adding: “And colette cannot exist without Colette.”

ANNONCE SPECIALE Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin. Après vingt années exceptionnelles, colette devrait définitivement fermer ses portes le 20 décembre prochain. Colette Roussaux arrive à l'âge où il est temps de prendre son temps ; or, colette ne peut exister sans Colette. Des échanges ont lieu avec Saint Laurent et nous serions fiers qu'une Marque aussi prestigieuse, avec qui nous avons régulièrement collaboré au fil des années, reprenne notre adresse. Nous sommes ravis du grand intérêt que Saint Laurent a montré dans ce projet, ce qui pourrait constituer une très belle opportunité pour nos salariés. Jusqu’au dernier jour, rien ne changera. colette continuera de se renouveler toutes les semaines comme d’habitude, avec une sélection unique et de nombreuses collaborations, également disponibles sur notre site colette.fr Nous vous remercions pour votre confiance, et à bientôt chez colette, jusqu’au 20 décembre! BREAKING NEWS As all good things must come to an end, after twenty wonderful years, colette should be closing its doors on December 20th of this year. Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and colette cannot exist without Colette. Negotiations are under way with Saint Laurent and we would be proud to have a Brand with such a history, with whom we have frequently collaborated, taking over our address. We are happy of the serious interest expressed by Saint Laurent in this project, and it could also represent a very good opportunity for our employees. Until our last day, nothing will change. colette will continue to renew itself each week with exclusive collaborations and offerings, also available on our website colette.fr We thank you for your support and see you soon at colette--until December 20th! #coletteforever

Une publication partagée par sarahcolette (@sarahandelman) le

“Some of us applauded and some of us cried,” colette’s communications chief Guillaume Salmon, who has worked at the store for 18 years, told FRANCE 24 of the announcement. “Colette gave so many people a chance, even if they didn’t have the experience, and we are all so grateful to her,” he said. “And we know how hard she worked, 24/7. It was a beautiful moment. She deserves this.”

Salmon said that the week before the closure was something of an emotional rollercoaster. “We’ve received so many heartfelt messages. colette has inspired so many people. People aged between 15 and 35 grew up with this very special place that is all about curiosity and open-mindedness … Unfortunately I think its closure will leave a void in Paris.”

Ever since the announcement, social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter have been awash with the hashtag #coletteforever, with fans sharing their own special colette moments over the years.

Instead of handing over the reins of the brand to a new owner, Roussaux and Andelman will lease out the store space to French luxury brand Saint Laurent.

In an interview with The New York Times this summer, Andelman explained the reasoning behind letting colette go for good: “I know it’s a quite radical decision … But it was like a baby for us, it was so personal, and so we prefer that it stays as a wonderful memory, and the space is used for something new.”

Date created : 2017-12-19

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