Fashion is not just about clothing or shoes, it is also about creativity, art, music and everything relating to life. Colette concept store founders, Sarah Andelman (former art student and Purple magazine intern) & her mother Colette Roussaux, after whom the store is named, understood this and made it happen by opening the now fashion institution in 1997.
The store quickly became renowned for its revolutionary approach to retail, such as its weekly product updates and in-store restaurant and mineral water-bar.
Colette, located on Rue Saint Honoré, is famed for its well judged fashion edits and quirky mix of lifestyle products that have turned the store into one of Paris’ premiere fashion pit-stops. Probably, the best thing about Colette is that it uses its great marketing force to promote young talents. Creative, young designers and artists, with revolutionary ideas and passionate about their work, who also engage humor in the creation process. It was one of the first to stock collections by Proenza Schouler, Mary Katrantzou, Rodarte, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Raf Simons and Thom Browne.
Colette’s creative director Sarah Andelman also pioneered the idea of designer collaborations; she’s persuaded Hermès to create special Colette scarves, Burberry to design a trench-coat with a Swarovski-studded collar, Lanvin X Balmain Batman t-shirts and a selection of candy-floss flavoured macarons by iconic French bakery Ladurée.
The Parisian store has inspired cult concept stores around the world, but has been one step ahead of its competitors.
Hedi Slimane was not amused
Saint laurent pulled a large amount of merchandise from Colette, ending a 15-year relationship.
The reason? The French fashion house was offended by the boutique’s 300-item stock of parody T-shirts that display the slogan, “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” (a reference to designer Hedi Simane’s controversial move to rebrand the womenswear line immediately after joining the company, Yves Saint Laurent became Saint Laurent).
In a more symbolic gesture, Saint Laurent rescinded creative director and retail manager Sarah Andelman’s invitation to the label’s Spring 2014 runway show.
Separately, the publisher for Document, an independent magazine, contacted Andelman to cancel a forrthcoming event, informing her that the store could no longer carry the publication because one of its covers was photographed by Slimane.
Considering the Saint Laurent designer’s fascination with youth and subcultures, it’s surprising that Slimane is so hostile to this vein of satirical streetwear — a growing trend which hinges on pop culture’s infatuation with high-end fashion. WWD notes that Colette carries other items which parody prestige brands like Céline, Hermès and Karl Lagerfeld. These parody pieces are displayed on another floor, separate from the designer wares.
YSL would not comment on the story, telling that the company’s dealings with retailers are confidential. .
interviewed Sarah Andelman, Januari 2013
INTERVIEW: What was the impetus for opening Colette? How did you define the concept of the shop in the beginning?
SARAH ANDELMAN: It was all about the venue itself. We lived in the same building, and the space was empty for many years. One day we visited it, and we immediately had the vision to create a new place—with the restaurant, the gallery, fashion, beauty, design, music, etc. So we didn’t have the concept and then look for a space—we had the space, and how to fill it was very clear. We deeply feel Parisian, and knew what Paris was missing. There wasn’t one specific shop that influenced us—it was more a frustration about certain products that we couldn’t find in Paris that motivated us. Our vision hasn’t changed since. We’re still excited to discover new products, new brands, and to mix them all together. The shop itself, in its structure and the selection, changes all the time, but the original challenge is the same. From the beginning, the customers were always a mix—neighbors and tourists, fashion victims or hi-tech fanatics . . .
INTERVIEW: How do you go about curating the store? What’s the process?
ANDELMAN: It’s never about “commerce,” but just coups de foudre. The edit is done very spontaneously, following our instincts. We try to balance the products of the season with timeless pieces, young, new designers and major brands. We’ve carried young designers since our opening, and it has always been natural for us to support and give space to show their talent. We’ve worked since their very first collections with Jeremy Scott, Raf Simons, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Mary Katrantzou, Sacai, Simone Rocha, Christopher Kane, Olympia Le Tan . . . Fashion is very important, but we also considered that it was not only about fashion but many other medias around it. We’ve done so many great collaborations on products, from Moon Boots to Nike sneakers, Ladurée macaroons, and Vespa scooters, and in the gallery, had so many fabulous artists, photographers, and illustrators appear on our walls. So I never ask myself what people expect to find at Colette—I just hope to surprise them with something they can’t resist buying.
INTERVIEW: While some other stores have opened up new outposts in other cities and countries, you’ve stuck to the single storefront on Rue Saint-Honoré. Does that kind of expansion interest you?
ANDELMAN: We’re not interested in opening Colette in other cities—it’s all about the location, and we prefer to keep it unique and fresh. We’ve loved the pop-up shops that we’ve done with Comme des Garçons in Tokyo, Gap in New York City, or, more recently, Chanel in Paris. We’re also very proud of our collaboration with Hermès. We started to work with some international artists, brands, and generated our own community over the years. We’ll soon be launching a new version of our e-shop with more facilities, and it’s already become a great window for us to reach consumers around the worldl. Now you can find everything online, so I suppose shopping is maybe sometimes just repérage, even if we don’t really feel it at Colette. I think people are more curious and open to something they don’t know yet . . .
INTERVIEW: What do you think is the future of shopping?
ANDELMAN: I hope they’ll develop a “buy” button on Instagram. I think the act of shopping will be quicker and quicker, like when we buy a song on iTunes. It can be a disaster for your wallet, but so good for ours.