Colette Closing: Why, Days Later, Pop Culture is Still Reeling

A general view at the 'Colette' store on April 14, 2017 in Paris, France.
Marc Piasecki/GC Images

A general view at the 'Colette' store on April 14, 2017 in Paris, France. 

The fashion world collectively had a meltdown earlier this week after learning the devastating news that colette, beloved Paris concept store-slash-designer heaven, is closing its doors after 20 years. “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,” read a statement on the site and Instagram. “Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and colette cannot exist without Colette.”

 

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

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Founded by Colette Roussaux in 1997, who ran the business with daughter Sarah Andelman, colette (the store, not the human) quickly became the cooler, more hip, younger counterpart to traditional luxury flagships that lined the streets in the First Arrondissement. But more than that, the anti-establishment establishment was an experience for both the sartorial-savvy set and the non-initiated, and a rite of passage for emerging designers, established ones, and celebrity collabs. Equal parts boutique, exhibition, and café (the basement was, famously, home to the Water Bar, which boasted an impressive roster of 100 different brands of bottled water), colette, quite remarkably had become a landmark within a span of 20 years, and with that, it saw a ton of foot traffic from tourists, pedestrians, and stars, like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, Katy Perry, Sean Combs, Pink, Jennifer Aniston, and so, so many more.

But what separated colette from other concept stores was that it was quick to broker out-of-the-box partnerships, however small, without at all compromising its integrity nor its highly curated inventory that so many sought after. Case in point: Two years ago, colette collaborated with fast-food giant McDonald’s on a limited edition capsule collection, featuring Big Macs and fries printed on tees and totes. Yes, McDonald’s, yet it was acceptable—and even chic. Cut to present day, and colette currently carries fidget spinners (though it might be sold out), alongside its more fashion-y merch, like Vetements. And most recently, Colette has teased an upcoming collection with fast-fashion retailer H&M.

“Colette to me is the ultimate shopping (and research) destination in Paris, with their well-edited buys and support for many people whether it's a big brand or a small entrepreneur or artist,” influencer Bryanboy captioned on Instagram. “For a generation, Colette was the gold standard of cool. Also, fun fact: they were one of the first stores to buy my fur accessories collaboration when I did that and I will forever be truly grateful.”

On the celebrity front, colettes’s star-studded partnerships run the gamut. It’s hosted Rihanna’s week-long pop-up shop, in which lines of fans snaked around the block for the chance to purchase any one of Riri’s many, many collaborations, like her futuristic Dior shades, her denim-centric Manolo Blahnik collection, or pieces from her Fenty x Puma line. Pharrell Williams also had his pop-up shop at colette three years ago. And it was the venue of choice to celebrate the launch of Jesse Jo Stark (her godmother is Cher, btw), Laurie Lynn, and Richard Stark’s Chrome Hearts’s Pete Punk collection. Basically, in doing so, colette had become something of a launch pad for celebrity musicians-turned-designers.

And we’d argue that colette not only had a hand in making buzzy designers, well, even buzzier, but to also further the streetwear scene. The retailer has delivered a seemingly infinite number of sneaker collabs, including Raf Simons x Comme des Garcons x Vans, New Balance, Reekbok, adidas Stan Smiths, PONY, and Nike, with styles saturated in colette’s iconic blue. Others include Kith, Burton, and Off-White and Major Lazer.

In short, there’s really nothing like colette out there. According to the brand’s statement, it will be business as usual, including the delivery of its exclusive collaborations, until Dec. 20. But after? There are currently negotiations underway with Saint Laurent to lease out the space. If you’re still incredulously asking, how can this be? Andelman told the New York Times 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.”

And as for who will be up to the task of taking over what colette will leave behind, well, that has yet to be determined. Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who dresses Justin Bieber, Olivia Wilde, Karlie Kloss, and Lorde, asked it best: “Merci, colette. Who will carry the torch of commerce and creativity?”

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