Among its many superlatives, Paris is the undisputed queen of the concept shop. Thanks to its deep appreciation for the art of living, it’s no surprise that the city excels at picking out the best in fashion, art, beauty products, and culture, and displaying them together beautifully, with little apparent effort. Though the city has become rife with them in recent years, three still stand above the rest as examples of just how exhilarating it can be to shop in one. So next time you’re in the City of Lights, take a trip to one of these three temples of taste, and prepare to get lost in the fashion, music, art, food, and literature (i.e., what the French do best).
Colette, 213 Rue Saint Honoré
The most famous of Paris’ concept shops, Colette sits on the rue Saint Honore, and its 8,000 square feet stocks a dizzying array of merchandise. The luxe and the edgy co-mingle in racks of Dior dresses, white diamond Repossi earrings, Parrot x Philippe Starck white and gold headphones, and read fashion-world favorite magazines like i-D and Flair.
Colette takes care to offer up lesser-known labels like Mary Katzandrou and Olympia Le Tan alongside such megawatt names as Alaia and Kenzo. A rotating collection of art hangs on the walls upstairs, and it’s not uncommon to find a DJ spinning songs from Colette’s walls of albums on offer downstairs. A well-stocked beauty room tucked away on the second floor has everything from RMS Beauty bronzer to Martin Margiela perfume.
Although in the basement, the water bar is one of Colette’s crowning achievements, with over 50 varieties of still, sparkling, and even coconut on tap. Don’t be surprised to see a famous editor or two helping themselves to cheese tarts and artichokes in the water bar’s always-packed restaurant. Not only the best known of Paris’ concept shops, Colette is also the oldest – it opened its doors in 1997, and has been luring sartorially savvy Parisians and visitors back ever since.
Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
Founded by Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, the fashion luminaries behind children’s line Bonpoint, Merci is an innovative one-stop shop for furniture, jewelry, stationary, clothing, linens, tableware, and more, whose profits go to a children’s charity in Madagascar. Tucked away in the trendy Haut-Marais, Merci occupies three stories in a 19th century fabric factory. The bright red little Fiat in the courtyard welcomes shoppers into this trove of treasure from around the world.
Prices are slashed from thirty to forty percent on designers like Azzaro and Stella McCartney, thanks to the designers’ partnership with Merci to slash prices, and the Cohens’ decision not to forgo profits from their enterprise. Scarves, towels, linens, stationary, and more are sold from the shop’s own line, Merci Merci, and it’s not uncommon to spot Chanel bags and Burberry trenches in the store’s vintage section.
For parents looking to dress their offspring with the same consideration they afford themselves, there is children’s clothing and a haberdashery for those in search of just the right finishing touch to their ensembles. A flowers market, pet accessories, beautiful array of jewelry, and kitchenware with a minimalist, Japanese vibe are just a few items that round out Merci’s offerings.
Expats and locals alike sit over lattes and scones in the ground floor café, where if the mood so strikes them, they can pull a book off the café’s bookshelves to immerse themselves in. A basement canteen serves delicious soups, salads, and risottos, along with a bevvy of teas and juices. Without sacrificing on style, Merci perfectly blends luxury commerce with philanthropy—something we should all be able to say merci for.
Le66, 66 Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Getting lost in this mega-store right off the bustling Champs-Elysées is only half the joy of combing Le66's cache of uber-chic clothing, accessories, home goods, music, and magazines. Built around the number 66, the first floor always displays 66 products, along with an international magazine and bookshop featuring hard-to-find titles, and an outpost of the cult vintage emporium Killiwatch.
At least 66 different designers are always for sale, with marquee designers like Helmut Lang and Acne complimenting the racks of lesser known, insider labels like JCDC and April May. Spread throughout the top three floors, shoppers will find an extraordinary array of covetable goods, including jewelry from fashion-world darling Aurelie Bidermann, and fragrances from the quirky-cool Timex watches.
The store’s design is a geometric marvel, with cool Richard Serra-esque glass panels and display stands showcasing products like the works of art they are. Open since 2007, Le66 has proven its staying power as the ne plus ultra of Parisian cool.
Journalist focusing on architecture, art, fashion, food, literature, and travel. Lives in Paris, but will travel almost anywhere at the drop of a hat. ...(Read More)