Founded in 1997 by Colette Roussaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman, the current creative director, colette has been hailed over the years as ‘the coolest store in town’ by legendary fashion critic Suzy Menkes, and as the only place worthy of Karl Lagerfeld’s time – ‘It’s the only shop where I go because they have things no one else has. I buy watches, telephones, jewelry there – everything really! They have invented a formula that you can’t copy easily, because there is only one colette and [Colette] and Sarah are 200 percent involved.’
This winning formula – a constantly refreshed, expertly curated mix of big name and breakout brands, high-tech gadgetry, CDs, stationery, coffee table books, and, at the ultra-hip basement café, 70 flavors of mineral water – plays itself out over three floors and 8000 square meters of prime retail space in Paris’ 1st arrondissement. This unique offering spawned a new breed of store dedicated to the aesthetic lifestyle as opposed to one specific product category.
While commentators have mused about the possible impact of rising rents, volatility in the tourism sector as a result of domestic terrorism, and a marked shift towards online shopping, it’s unlikely that the financials had a huge part to play in the decision to close up shop: colette had sales of €28 million ($32 million) in 2016 and 25% of this was derived from e-commerce. Nevertheless, it’s already been declared a dark omen for the future of brick-and-mortar shopping, particularly for concept stores that generally prioritize good looks over the health of the books.
Roussaux and Andelman took to Instagram to make their historic announcement. ‘As all good things must come to an end, after twenty wonderful years, colette should be closing its doors on December 20th of this year.’
‘Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and colette cannot exist without Colette.’
In a further statement to The New York Times, Andelman said: ‘I know people think it’s crazy that we decided to close rather than sell the name, because it has value, but we knew if someone else ran it, it would not be the same.’
Business will continue as usual until the very end. ‘Until our last day, nothing will change. colette will continue to renew itself each week with exclusive collaborations and offerings, also available on our website colette.fr,’ the Instagram post reads. The final collaborations will include a high-low line with H&M to be launched on August 21, as well as projects with Sacai, Chanel, and Saint Laurent, the brand that’s been fingered to take over the space on the Rue Saint-Honoré.
So, there it is: the end of an era. The only thing left for fashion lovers to do is to make tracks for colette, for the first or final time, before it’s too late.