The worlds of fashion, design, retail, music and more are mourning today—the day after colette paris closed its doors forever. After 20 years of making redefining retail—making unexpected brand collaborations the norm, making experiences that surprise and provoke, making streetwear high fashion—the concept store closed shop on December 20th, as promised.
All year, and particularly these last few days, legions of fans from around the world have been making a pilgrimage to the store at 213 Rue Saint-Honoré for one last time, one last look and a memento or two before store founder Colette Roussaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman said a final farewell to customers, designers and other friends.
Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin. Après vingt années exceptionnelles, colette devrait définitivement fermer ses portes le 20 décembre prochain. Colette Roussaux arrive à l'âge où il est temps de prendre son temps ; or, colette ne peut exister sans Colette. Des échanges ont lieu avec Saint Laurent et nous serions fiers qu'une Marque aussi prestigieuse, avec qui nous avons régulièrement collaboré au fil des années, reprenne notre adresse. Nous sommes ravis du grand intérêt que Saint Laurent a montré dans ce projet, ce qui pourrait constituer une très belle opportunité pour nos salariés. Jusqu’au dernier jour, rien ne changera. colette continuera de se renouveler toutes les semaines comme d’habitude, avec une sélection unique et de nombreuses collaborations, également disponibles sur notre site colette.fr Nous vous remercions pour votre confiance, et à bientôt chez colette, jusqu’au 20 décembre! #colette BREAKING NEWS 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. Negotiations are under way with Saint Laurent and we would be proud to have a Brand with such a history, with whom we have frequently collaborated, taking over our address. We are happy of the serious interest expressed by Saint Laurent in this project, and it could also represent a very good opportunity for our employees. 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 We thank you for your support and see you soon at colette–until December 20th! #coletteforever #colette20ans #colette
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) December 20, 2017
— Off-White™ (@OffWht) December 20, 2017
To say it’s the end of an era is an understatement. Interbrand global director and Meta-luxury co-author Rebecca Robins shared her thoughts in a Q&A with Influencia magazine, which has kindly allowed us to run the original English-language version:
What is the value of the colette brand today ? What did colette bring to the fashion and luxury scene when it first came out ?
The inherent strength of colette was the unique point of view. Before the words ‘edit’ and ‘curation’ became the standard vocabulary that they are today, Colette gave us a way of seeing the world. Real visionaries dare to see things differently and what this unique blend of culture and commerce gave us was as insightful as it was incisive—a rare blend of vision and curation.
The magnetic appeal of this concept store, sited so symbolically on the corner of a crossroad, was that Colette was unwavering in understanding the business that she was in—he business of people and stories. This was a brand built on curiosity and discovery. The currency was in the stories that we all came back with from each visit and the surprises that we looked forward to in anticipation of the next. This was storytelling at its best.
This was a destination that transcended generations and geography. It invited people in and brought people together through everything from book signings to talks and concerts. Above all, it was a community.
What were the branding and collaboration aspects that the store democratized ?
Colette understood the relationship between brands and culture and it was a game-changer in building an inclusive ecosystem. In the fluid mix of low and high, of the named with the names that you had yet to know, the floors of the townhouse effortlessly afforded levels of access to everyone.
Colette became world-renowned in an eclectic series of collaborations, whether with Raf Simons COMME des GARÇONS x Vans in 2005, to Aston Martin in 2011 to adidas Originals in 2014 to, most recently, Saint Laurent.
— colette (@coletteparis) November 28, 2017
Can we express regrets or satisfaction for what colette brought us?
Do we regret Stradivarius or do we celebrate the genius that lived and who gifted the world what we value so highly and appreciate today? Stradivarius exists today through the creations that have been handed down from musician to musician, from one generation to another. But they are living testament to a unique vision that could not live on after the death of the great master. It was the anti-case of knowledge transfer. So, the legacy could never be carried forward.
The unique brand that Colette brought to the world will be missed because it was loved. It will be missed because in just two decades it had defined culture, it had become part of culture. How many brands can we think of that, over time, went on to sell out, sell off, expand, extend and ultimately diluted the DNA of the brand in the process? Colette decided not to do any of those things.
At a more macro level, Colette’s closing raises a more existential question around the life of a brand today. As change has become the new constant and brands are disrupting categories, it makes us consider what the lifecycle of a brand might look like in the near future.
What does the closing of colette says about premium concept stores and the evolution of retail ?
We talk about the future of retail today in the imperative of blending content and commerce, in the art of collaborations, in experiences and storytelling. This was the very essence of Colette. We talk about influence and influencers. Colette stood apart and set a standard in the real meaning of influence. Much of Colette’s legacy is in the way that the brand opened up the possibility of what a retail experience could be to others.
There is testament to the life of a brand, in how Colette’s mixing deck from 20 years ago is playing out across the world. The concept store Story in Manhattan describes itself as “A space that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sell things like a shop.” And inclusion has taken on new interpretations, with Story’s commitment as a platform for knowledge and community, hosting pitch nights for local entrepreneurs.
Brand partners and collaborations play out in more thoughtful and playful ways. Look at Club Monaco, which has brought together a select host of local brand partners for their New York Fifth Avenue flagship, including a Toby’s Estate Coffee & Espresso Bar and a curated collection courtesy of the inimitable eye of the legendary Strand Bookstore.
The colette website is still alive, with a series of video tributes, a space for fans to share their memories and one final gift: a mini-film by Kuntzel + Deygas starring their canine creations, Caperino & Peperone. Cap & Pep were often featured at colette, and now they have a final frolic before sailing off on a tropical vacation. The credits are classic colette, a collaboration of brilliant creators coming together to delight and entice:
“Produced by Add A Dog, Paris. Hand made animations by Agnès Fauve. CG animations by Patrick Daher. Modeling by Gregory Thomas. Rendering and compositing by Pierre Chomarat. Editing by David Haddad. Music: The Kiddies Christmas Frolic (Columbia Orchestra).”
Merci, colette. #coletteforever indeed.