Sarah Andelman


It’s never about ‘commerce’ but just coups de foudre. I never ask myself what people expect to find at Colette—I just hope to surprise them with something they can’t resist buying.Sarah Andelman

LOCATION: 213 Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris. HISTORY: â??Andelman, once an intern at Purple magazine, founded Colette in 1997 with her mother (also the shop’s namesake, Colette Roussaux) in the building in which they once lived; the store has since become a bona fide fashion-world destination, not only for its tightly edited mix of high and street fashion, products, gadgets, collaborations, art shows, and performances, but for the endearingly quirky individuality that suffuses it all (including a bar devoted to mineral water). CURRENT OBSESSION: â??“Julien David’s ‘Dinosaur’ sweatshirt, exclusive for Colette.” â??WHAT’S IN STORE: â??“For summer, a little capsule collection by Saturdays for Colette. We’re also happy to participate in the launch of Façade issue 15, to celebrate the French record label Ed Banger’s 10th birthday, and we have a nice candle project with our favorite bread maker in Paris, Jean-Luc Poujauran.” WHERE SHE LIKES TO SHOP: â??“Kiddy Land in Tokyo; I can’t resist Elmo and Hello Kitty together! Les Marquis de Ladurée on rue de Castiglione for le pain au chocolat tout chocolat. And Parfumerie Madini in Tangier or Laffargue in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, because those are the only places where we can get their products.”

INTERVIEW: What was the impetus for opening Colette? How did you define the concept of the shop in the beginning?

SARAH ANDELMAN: It was all about the venue itself. We lived in the same building, and the space was empty for many years. One day we visited it, and we immediately had the vision to create a new place—with the restaurant, the gallery, fashion, beauty, design, music, etc. So we didn’t have the concept and then look for a space—we had the space, and how to fill it was very clear. We deeply feel Parisian, and knew what Paris was missing. There wasn’t one specific shop that influenced us—it was more a frustration about certain products that we couldn’t find in Paris that motivated us. Our vision hasn’t changed since. We’re still excited to discover new products, new brands, and to mix them all together. The shop itself, in its structure and the selection, changes all the time, but the original challenge is the same. From the beginning, the customers were always a mix—neighbors and tourists, fashion victims or hi-tech fanatics . . .

INTERVIEW: How do you go about curating the store? What’s the process?

ANDELMAN: It’s never about “commerce,” but just coups de foudre. The edit is done very spontaneously, following our instincts. We try to balance the products of the season with timeless pieces, young, new designers and major brands. We’ve carried young designers since our opening, and it has always been natural for us to support and give space to show their talent. We’ve worked since their very first collections with Jeremy Scott, Raf Simons, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Mary Katrantzou, Sacai, Simone Rocha, Christopher Kane, Olympia Le Tan . . . Fashion is very important, but we also considered that it was not only about fashion but many other medias around it. We’ve done so many great collaborations on products, from Moon Boots to Nike sneakers, Ladurée macaroons, and Vespa scooters, and in the gallery, had so many fabulous artists, photographers, and illustrators appear on our walls. So I never ask myself what people expect to find at Colette—I just hope to surprise them with something they can’t resist buying.

INTERVIEW: While some other stores have opened up new outposts in other cities and countries, you’ve stuck to the single storefront on Rue Saint-Honoré. Does that kind of expansion interest you? 

ANDELMAN: We’re not interested in opening Colette in other cities—it’s all about the location, and we prefer to keep it unique and fresh. We’ve loved the pop-up shops that we’ve done with Comme des Garçons in Tokyo, Gap in New York City, or, more recently, Chanel in Paris. We’re also very proud of our collaboration with Hermès. We started to work with some international artists, brands, and generated our own community over the years. We’ll soon be launching a new version of our e-shop with more facilities, and it’s already become a great window for us to reach consumers around the worldl. Now you can find everything online, so I suppose shopping is maybe sometimes just repérage, even if we don’t really feel it at Colette. I think people are more curious and open to something they don’t know yet . . .

INTERVIEW: What do you think is the future of shopping?

ANDELMAN: I hope they’ll develop a “buy” button on Instagram. I think the act of shopping will be quicker and quicker, like when we buy a song on iTunes. It can be a disaster for your wallet, but so good for ours.

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For more fashion and culture curators, click here.