New openings around the world for a store that was raised from the ashes of the French boutique
A new life from the old
Colette Roussaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman closed their Colette boutique on 18th December 2017 after 20 years in business, handling 8600 brands and 400,000 products. Less than a month later, two of their former employees opened Nous Paris in January 2018: Sébastien Chapelle was the former manager of the Timepiece and Technology department for fourteen years; Marvin Dein had been Head of the Sneakers department for nine years. They took on several of their former colleagues and members of the Colette team for their artistic-business project, with the motto «Pour nous, Par nous» (‘for us, by us’).
Nous is in the center of Paris, at 48 rue Cambon, between Place de la Concorde and l’Opéra Garnier. A little further on, at number 31, there is the house where Coco Chanel once lived. The store is no longer a 740 square meter affair on three floors like rue Saint-Honoré (Colette), as Chapelle and Dein operate out of premises that are a mere 120 square meters where the French “Bath Bazaar” brand of bathroom accessories used to be sold. Parisian architects Atelier HA redesigned the space.
The minimalist interiors are tidy but asymmetrical, lacking in repetition; the only contrast to the concrete grey walls comes from the chunky black display tables. Parisian atelier LightMakers came up with a lighting system that interacts with the design and becomes a decor element in its own right: an oblique network of black rails stretches down from the ceiling, interspersed by spotlights that decorate and throw light over the store.
Beyond 48 Rue Cambon
Colette used to change the window displays once a week and so Nous Paris intends to refresh the store every month. The system used to illuminate the products was designed with this fast pace in mind, and uses magnetic fittings that can be repositioned for each new launch or event. The four window displays are designed ad hoc by international designers complete with videos and artistic installations. Even the background music changes every day.
Thanks to the support of its majority shareholder – Swiss investment fund 21st Luxury – Nous Paris opened an 85 square meter store at Geneva Airport, the first located outside France, in December 2018. The store offers a mix of items and gadgets and hosts events and pop-up shops where products are available for a limited time only, just like the boutique in Paris. A store in Geneva city center followed the airport store, and then another in Saint Tropez on the Cote D’Azur. There has been talk of new store openings in London and Miami, United States, since April 2019.
A second store opened in Paris, a year after the first one, at 49 rue Cambon – on the opposite side of the street. The second Parisian boutique acts as an extension of the first one, instead of a replica. 200 square meters displaying all the items that the first store casts aside: women’s apparel, ready to wear collections, and beauty products. The interiors are decorated in pastel colors – old rose, cream and white – along with adjustable color lighting.
The classics and the underground
One of the windows focuses exclusively on the pop-up shops that are changing all the time; the cosmetics lab is in a corner: 30 square meters of natural and eco-friendly beauty products, such as the handmade fragrances by Liquides Imaginaires, a brand invented by interior designer Philippe Di Meo from Marseilles.
Popular brands – New Balance, Balenciaga, Vans and Converse – are sold alongside niche brands – Stampd, Born x Raised, Neighborhood and Billionaire Boys Club. Dein and Chapelle have a mission to expand and renew the product catalogue with less known and underground labels. A lot of space is set aside to timepieces – Casio, Baume and Rolex created with Mad Paris – high-tech gadgets and sneakers that used to be displayed at the entrance to Colette’s store.
The high-tech department stocks Bang & Olufsen audio next to iPhones covered in white marble commissioned from Fed & Volk and costing around five thousand Euros each, sunglasses, Leica instant cameras, collectible toys and action figures from the Japanese firm MEDICOM TOY, and Sony items. Devambez rolling papers (a box of ten pre-rolled cones costs 78 Euros) alongside candles and fragrances for the home.
There are also international magazines on display at Nous Paris – from Toilet Paper to The Ultimate Sneaker Book about the world of sneakers; .FUTUR, the project that is somewhere between a book and a magazine discussing the future of fashion, Big Shots by Philip Leeds, a photographic anthology with portraits of pop stars. Nous organizes and hosts about two events every month, more often during Paris Fashion Week. During men’s fashion week in June 2019, it presented the six creators of The Big Blue Project #2, committed to promoting eco-friendly culture in the world of fashion.
Text Giulia Vigano
49 rue Cambon