Colette, the influential Parisian boutique described as “the trendiest store in the world” by Forbes, has announced it will close its doors in December. The news has been interpreted by fashion insiders as the “end of an era”, and a discouraging sign for bricks-and-mortar shopping.
The store on Rue Saint-Honoré has been at the centre of fashion since it opened its doors in March 1997. Founded by Colette Rousseaux, who still lives above the shop, with her daughter Sarah Andelman as its public face, it is a concept store, a place to hang out and a site of pilgrimage for the fashion crowd. It is flocked to by editors and buyers during show season. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, said last year that it’s the only shop he frequents “because they have things no one else has”.
There was little clue that this particular closure was on the cards. Colette is a master of collaborations and was at the centre of a fashion frenzy in June, when Balenciaga – one of the most hyped labels in Paris – partnered with the store to create exclusive pieces, including branded €10 lighters and €35 coffee mugs. During its final four months, collaborations are planned with Sacai, Chanel and Saint Laurent.
Other past partnerships have ranged from Ikea to Hermès and Vespa to Vans shoes. Such a sense of the unexpected has been Colette’s calling card during its two decades in business.
The store’s products make for a carefully curated mix – masterminded by Andelman – across its three floors and 8,000 square feet of retail space. Super-expensive designer goods sit alongside streetwear, magazines, toys, food and music. It is possible to visit and make a purchase whether your budget is meagre or in the millions. The launch of a basement water bar – offering 73 different types of mineral water – was undoubtedly another fashion moment.
A statement released by the brand reads: “As all good things must come to an end … Colette should be closing its doors on December 20th of this year.” It explains that Rousseaux, its founder and namesake, is set to retire: “Colette Rousseaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time, and Colette cannot exist without Colette.”
It is thought that the brand may live on in some capacity online. Creative director Andelman said in March that the revenues had been affected by the reduction in tourist numbers following the terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015, but added that e-commerce was growing.
The brand’s final collaborator, Saint Laurent, is in talks to take over the Colette space from 2018. The Colette statement reads: “We would be proud to have a brand with such history, with whom we have frequently collaborated, taking over our address.” There is also a suggestion that the staff of Colette could now work in the Saint Laurent store.
The news of the closure has been greeted with surprise and sadness on social media. Another Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue have tweeted about it; “Colette closing” was trending on Wednesday when the news broke; while users of Instagram posted an image of two white bubbles, one reading 1997 the other 2017, on a background of bright blue. It was a suitable homage: the colour will be familiar to all Colette customers as the shade on the store’s carrier bags.
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