Colette is Closing — You Need to Go Before it Does

Coach x colette store windows, October 2016. (Image: colette Paris / Facebook)

At the corner of rue Saint-Honoré and rue Cambon is a boutique both quintessentially Parisian and global at the same time. It’s a hub for anyone who loves chic design, pop culture, fashion, shopping, lifestyle collaborations, and even water. It’s one of a kind, and immensely successful, as anyone could guess from the lines to get in. It was therefore quite a shock to its fans to hear it will soon no longer be at the apex of retail and culture in Paris: Colette is closing.

One of the first concept stores in the world, fashion trade magazine WWD called Colette “a retail pioneer.” The announcement released this past July by the company was heartfelt: “As all good things must come to an end, after 20 wonderful years, Colette should be closing its doors on December 20 of this year. Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and Colette cannot exist without Colette.”

If you haven’t been to Colette yet, now is the time to go, before it’s gone.

Colette is famous for its fun collaborations with fashion designers, artists, and chefs. On a recent visit in late June, the store was in the midst of a Balenciaga takeover, but it might as well have been a party. A line of street-style-chic people aged seven to seventy eagerly waited outside for the store to open. Inside, the usual mix of designer goods was added to by special Balenciaga merchandise. For those uninterested in buying a personalized Balenciaga t-shirt, there were limited edition Bic-style cigarette lighters for 10€. Nail artist Mei Kawajiri had a table set up to do free manicures with the same Balenciaga logo she’d done on the models at Balenciaga’s runway show, and the store was ripe for celebrity-watching. Katy Perry wandered through the store to shop, publicity-averse Daphne Guinness entered quickly and went downstairs to Le Water Bar, which was then closed to the public for her privacy, and well-known art world types came in to get a quick hug and kiss from Marisa Berenson, there to launch her cosmetics collection.

The personality and style of founder Colette Roussaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman have imbued the concept store’s mix of cutting-edge fashion, high-end books, and designer products with a sense of iconic Parisian chicness that can’t be replicated. Lunch at Le Water Bar — with its menu of more than 100 waters from around the world and its delicious, artistic menu collaborations with celebrities — will also be missed.

Did you try this crazy blue Burger by @blend for our #colettewaterbar?! #TheFarewell

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In a piece on Colette’s closing in Business of Fashion,  The New York Times style reporter Vanessa Friedman commented, “I started in this industry only a few years after [Colette] opened, and for me it wasn’t a shop; it was research centre, classroom, and textbook all in one. Every season I would stop back in for a refresher course. And it is entirely characteristic of Sarah and Colette’s approach to their subject that they have left us with one last lesson — one I think many fashion brands would do well to consider: write your own final chapter, and do it from a position of strength.”

Currently, Colette is featuring a collaboration with Chanel. The pop-up events for November can be found here, with more to be added for both November and December as event dates get closer. Newly released fashion books by Loïc Prigent and Giovanna Battaglia, Marie-Sophie Lockhart’s DIY embroidery kits, and more are all there, just waiting to be explored (after a lunch at Le Water Bar, of course). The last brand to be featured at Colette before closing? YSL, of course! The building has been purchased by Yves Saint Laurent, and when Colette closes, a YSL will open.