All good things must come to an end. That’s how cult concept store Colette broke the news of its closure to its one million Instagram followers this morning. After 20 years, the store announced that it will be closing its doors on 20th December, and its online presence, colette.fr, will also be folding.
The rue Saint Honoré store was founded in 1997 by Colette Roussaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman, a former art student and Purple magazine intern who is now Colette’s creative director. With a concept of ‘style, design, art, food’, the pair wanted to bring products they discovered on their global travels together under one roof, combining a store, gallery and restaurant into one carefully curated space.
Twenty years on, the coveted 1st arrondisement location has become one of the city’s go-to retail destinations and the forebearer of today’s lifestyle stores. Its eclectic and constantly changing offering is now legendary, with high-end and contemporary fashion showcased alongside kitchenware, art, books, toys, the latest gadgetry and store souvenirs.
A must-visit for fashion lovers, Colette was one of the first stores to stock collections by Proenza Schouler, Mary Katrantzou and Rodarte, and was firmly behind the fusion of high-end and street-style fashion. “We started to work with people like Virgil [Abloh] before he started Off White, as well as OAMC’s Luke Meier when he came from Supreme, and with the whole wave of designers like Hood By Air,” explained Sarah Andelman to the Business of Fashion’s Dan Thawley. And this year, to mark the store’s 20th anniversary, the store’s first floor, which is usually filled with a mix of fashion brands, is being transformed each month into a space dedicated to a single designer, from Balenciaga, Sacai and Thom Browne to Chanel and Saint Laurent.
It's not just an innovative inventory that has kept Colette at the forefront of retail. From pioneering round-the-clock dining in Paris, to hosting product launches, exclusive collaborations and art exhibitions, as well as book signings, concerts and panel discussions, the store has become part of the cultural fabric of contemporary Paris.
"Sarah is one of the most incredible and bravest young women I know, and her mother Colette, a very smart businesswoman who supported her daughter's dream", Carmen has said. "This is the end of Colette the store, but not the end of Sarah as a professional - I look forward to seeing what she does next. Anyone that lasts that long in Paris can make it anywhere."
Colette's experience-based approach to shopping is what many industry commentators have cited as the saviour of bricks and mortar retail in this increasingly digital age, and it has certainly served the Paris store well. But it now seems that its founder wants to take a step back. "Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and Colette cannot exist without Colette" the store's Instagram post this morning went on to say. Will another pioneer fill the retail void that will undoubtedly be left at the end of the year? Only time will tell...