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WHY YOU CAN’T FIND A TAXI IN PARIS
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by Tina Isaac
Didier Ludot Vintage Haute Couture
18 Paris | March/April
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hat’s old is new again: When Julia Roberts made her comeback appearance at the Screen Actor’s Guild awards in Los Angeles last January, she wore a short black vintage Yves Saint Laurent dress. It was an object lesson in the essence of style. On a red carpet otherwise teeming with borrowed extravagance, Roberts returned to the public eye wearing not only her own dress, but a piece that conveys an innate understanding of fashion. At a time when consumers want to connect with the authenticity of what they purchase, vintage seems a logical place to start. On a trip through Paris for the recent haute couture shows, Cameron Silver, the owner of the LA store Decades Inc – a resource for countless boldfaced names – observed that vintage is growing in popularity, both across the age spectrum and in response to global interest. “The financial crisis has made the affluent shopper more open to purchasing vintage as an investment,” he said. Vintage doyenne Françoise Auguet,
the owner of Ragtime on the Left Bank, agrees. While vintage clothes are often less expensive, as well as one-of-a-kind, new clients rarely drop by for that reason alone. “New clients are drawn to vintage because they know what’s out there and they are tired of spending so much on something that won’t last,” she says. “With vintage, it’s already stood the test of time, so you know it will never go out of fashion.” As the birthplace and capital for illustrious labels past and present – from Poiret and Vionnet in the first half of the 20th century to Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix in the latter half - Paris offers some of the best vintage shopping in the world. While opinions differ on exactly when clothes become vintage (less than a decade qualifies in some shops, while Auguet, for one, considers that nothing is vintage if it’s under 30 years old), the trick, say shop owners, is to think of the clothes as you would a wine – there are good years and lesser ones, and just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s “vintage”. The rest is a matter of taste. And luck.
slant. If the leather couture space suits by Thierry Mugler or the leather/chainmail minidress by Paco Rabanne seem better suited to a film set or a fashion shoot, there are plenty of colorful and wearable pieces here for those in search of something a bit whimsical and out of the ordinary – think velvet-bibbed green paisley print peasant dress or red velvet bolero by YSL (350€).
Françoise Auguet is arguably Paris’ vintage doyenne, as she has been in the business for over 35 years. A special consultant to the Drouot auction house, she was the first to organize high-end sales of unique pieces and acted as curator for the record-breaking 2005 sale of a group of Poiret dresses. Everything in her Left Bank shop is in mint condition, a magnet for designers and stylists from around the world who come here to confer with Auguet on textures, cuts and prints. Auguet prides herself on having a little of everything, from no-label sixties shifts (160€) to Belle Epoque lace blouses (very popular in summer), fifties-era long evening dresses (300€ and up), gossamer drop-waisted numbers from the 1930s to a 1954 embroidered beige linen suit by Dior Couture (1,500€ and up). Auguet notes that while there is always a clientele for thirties pieces, the younger ones are quick to snap up distinctive pieces from the sixties and seventies.
23 rue de l'Echaudé 75006 01 56 24 00 36 Open Monday to Saturday, 2:30 pm – 7:30 pm
PHOTOS: FRÉDÉRIC DEKKAL
La Jolie Garde Robe Costume designers and fashion insiders rub elbows with a well-heeled clientele in this bright little shop, where Marie Rouches offers a sharply-edited if pricey array of vintage clothes and accessories from all eras, with a distinct eighties
15 rue Commines 75003 01 42 72 13 90 Open Tuesday to Saturday, 1 pm – 7:30 pm; mornings by appointment.
Thanx God I'm a VIP Before Sylvie Chateigner got into vintage, she had already made a name for herself as a queen of Parisian nightlife. “Vintage is like music– only the good stuff survives over time,” she says, and although her website still features mixes, its comprehensiveness makes it a useful tool for design studios. Her shop is a must for those in search of finds by Yves Saint Laurent – skirts from the late seventies/early eighties are her briskest sellers (90€-130€) Balenciaga, Chanel and Hermès. Chateigner admits to a preference for no-label pieces from the sixties made by local couturières. “They echo what was out there at the time, but they are truly unique,” she says. A younger clientele gravitates to the racks downstairs, where they can score funky blouses and accessories at rock bottom prices (from 5€). And because March/April | Paris 19
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Thanx God I’m a VIP
Chateigner hails from Brittany, she devotes a corner to regional items such as marinières (sailor striped shirts) and timeless wool peacoats.
12 rue de Lancry 75010 01 42 03 02 09 Open Tuesday to Sunday, 2 pm – 8 pm; basement only open on weekends.
La Belle Epoque La Belle Epoque’s days are officially numbered. A pioneer in the neighborhood over a decade ago, long before the Upper Marais morphed from working-class neighborhood into a gallery-hopper’s and shopper’s paradise, owner Monsieur Philippe is packing up his treasures and heading to Provence (and online) as of May 1st. A passionate, lifelong collector of hats and major labels from 1900 through the seventies, such as Poiret, Vionnet, Fath, Dior and particularly Yves Saint Laurent, he has a loyal following among international clients and fashion editors alike. Gregarious and agreeably opinionated, M. Philippe handpicks items from his personal collection each sea20 Paris | March/April
son and prepares a selection for those who share his enthusiasm for great design at unbelievably reasonable prices: Silk scarves start at 5€, suede jackets at 50€, a 1900-vintage silk top hat costs 80€, a black couture ensemble by Balmain is 150€ and black Pierre Cardin mini-dress, 200€. A hot pink, nip-waisted Dior Couture spring dress, circa 1955, will set you back 650€.
10 rue de Poitou 75003 06 80 77 71 32 Open Tuesday to Saturday, 1:30 pm – 6:30 pm; mornings by appointment only. www.philippelabelleepoque.com
Chezel Vintage is a family affair at Chezel, where mother and daughter team Dalila Azzouz and Rim Trabelsi sell affordable clothes from the late 20th century through the early 2000s essentially to a clientele that is young, hip and slim (many of them are students at the nearby lycée). Labels such as YSL Rive Gauche, Burberry, Marni, Marc Jacobs and Lanvin are mixed in with attractive, no-name cashmere sweaters (60€),
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PHOTOS: FRÉDÉRIC DEKKAL
Didier Ludot Vintage Haute Couture
perfectos (in leopard, 210€) or an impressive tableful of leather handbags (from 20€). Just don’t get too excited about the Gucci suitcase in the window – it’s the store mascot and emphatically not for sale. The Trabelsi brothers are also in on the act. Next door, Homes For is run by Amadi, who caters to both men and women and hews to a more Japanese aesthetic. Here, you can score elusive pieces by Comme des Garçons and Yohji, but also seventies-era Diane Von Furstenberg, a vermillion Chanel jacket from the eighties or nineties-era Alaïa; a chocolate leather trench tempts at 100€ and a jacket from Olivier Theyskens’ final collection for Rochas checks in at about 200€. In January another brother, Riad Trabelsi, unveiled the family’s newest addition, Since. The most avant-garde of the three, this shop gathers eighties-era finds by Thierry Mugler – a deep purple velvet dress with scarf detail (700€) or an Alaïa denim perfecto with corset lacing (380€) – which, given fashion’s current infatuation with that decade, look incredibly of the moment. A designer by trade, Riad gamely tweaks certain pieces to make them relevant for today by shortening a hem or slimming the batwing sleeves on a Chanel swing coat, for example, while keeping the clothes’ spirit intact.
Chezel and Homes For 59 rue Condorcet 75009 01 53 16 47 31 and 01 53 16 45 32 Open Tuesday to Saturday, 2 pm – 7:30 pm (hours variable) Since 30 rue St Roch 75001 01 49 27 93 11 Open Monday to Saturday, 11:30 am – 8 pm
Didier Ludot Vintage Haute Couture A towering, dapper fixture on the fashion circuit, haute vintage guru Didier Ludot has amassed a collection of couture clothes and accessories that easily qualify as (re)investment dressing. Because he is also known for championing young talent (i.e. future vintage), Ludot’s window dressing has become a fashion week event in its own right for his clever mix of recent and rare pieces. “For me, when something’s interesting and you can’t find it anymore, it’s vintage,” he says. Inside his adjacent boutiques in the Galerie Montpensier at the Palais Royal, Ludot stocks exceptional clothes and accessories from March/April | Paris 21
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Chanel, Dior, Lanvin, Vionnet, Balenciaga and Fath, among others. Graphic prints by Lanvin circa 1970 start at 300€; a day dress by Patou or Courrèges around 600€, about half the price of an evening dress. But Ludot has adapted to the times, and occasionally culls from his collection an armful of little black dresses to sell at lighter prices (from 200€). A foremost authority on the history of the “little black dress” (he has authored a book on it), Ludot is also a designer in his own right. Latter-day Audrey Hepburns head to his boutique La Petite Robe Noire, in the Galerie de Valois, for his line of classic LBDs (800€ – 1,200€) as well as
his latest, accessibly-priced capsule collection, DL Palais Royal (from 450€ – 700€).
Didier Ludot Vintage Haute Couture 20-24 galerie de Montpensier, Palais Royal 75001 01 42 96 06 56 Open Monday to Saturday, 10:30 am – 7 pm La Petite Robe Noire 125 galerie de Valois, Palais Royal 75001 01 40 15 01 04 Open Monday to Saturday, 11 am – 7pm
Gripoix Founded in 1869, the iconic house of Gripoix created poured glass pieces for the biggest names in fashion for much of the 20th century before its fortunes began to taper out with the arrival of the new millennium. Luckily, a revival is at hand thanks to new owner Marie Keslassy, who has sifted through the company archives to re-edit certain pieces – for spring, a series of 12 limited edition butterflies (1,500€ each). Fans of Chanel's famous Byzantine cross necklaces, sautoirs, cuffs and chunky brooches will instantly spot a family resemblance in the Mythic Parisienne and French Riviera collections, while pieces such as hair combs, wraparound bracelets and toe rings in the Byzantine, Glamour and Grain de Riz collections are thoroughly modern additions. All, however, are still made in the house's historic Paris ateliers on the rue Oberkampf.
Gripoix is sold exclusively at Colette, 213 rue St Honoré 75001 01 55 35 33 90 Open Monday to Saturday, 1 am – 7 pm www.gripoix.fr
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PHOTO: FRÉDÉRIC DEKKAL
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