Book It to Aesop’s New Spot
The editor of a literary journal established by American expats in Paris meets the founder of a beauty company with roots in Melbourne on Twenty-seventh Street in New York City. By the time they reach the end of the block, they’ve devised a plan and a unique partnership. Such a thing can only happen on the streets of Manhattan. For Aesop’s Dennis Paphitis and The Paris Review‘s Lorin Stein, creating a Paris Review-themed shop didn’t require a lengthy boardroom meeting—just a leisurely stroll down one of the tree-lined streets in Chelsea. Well, kind of. Over 1,000 new and vintage copies of the journal were strategically suspended from the ceiling of the new Aesop boutique on Ninth Avenue (located just a few blocks from the current home of The Paris Review)—creating a “floating sculpture” of sorts. The walls have also been plastered via a form of grown-up decoupage with black-and-white pages from back issues of the magazine, including the Regency Wine & Liquor receipt that Andy Warhol created to support the title in 1967.
Although it might seem like an odd pairing at first, Stein explains the tie between the two brands quite succinctly: “Since The Paris Review was founded sixty years ago, our only aim has been to discover what is new and best in literature. We’ve followed our own instincts, however whimsical they seemed to others. The team at Aesop is full of that same spirit.” Paphitis expressed his mutual admiration for the journal, stating that he’s read nearly “every issue in a sober state” since finding the twelfth edition (published in 1956) in a bookstore in his native Australia. The plant-based formulations distilled into the apothecary-style jars, bottles, and tubes lining the shelves may appear quite monotone at first, but upon reading the descriptions written on the front, one can clearly see that element of “whimsy” Stein is talking about. The label of their mouthwash reads: “Aesop considers good manners and impeccable hygiene essential to cordial daily conduct. And so, to politely protect the olfactory contentment of your loyal loved ones, fellow commuters or neighbouring theatre-goers, we advise a voluminous swig and gargle of Aesop Mouthwash prior to all public appearances.” It’s likely the most prolific set of directions I’ve ever laid eyes on. And with The Paris Review being of the most discerning taste (featuring works by writers such as Jack Kerouac and Adrienne Rich, as well as “conversations” with Joan Didion, William Faulkner, and Truman Capote, on its pages), I can only imagine the editors found it equally as impressive.
In addition to a bevy of washes, lotions, and potions, shoppers will be able to purchase copies of The Paris Review (new and old), and readings will be scheduled with the release of each issue. Who doesn’t enjoy a well-balanced combo of beauty and brains?
Aesop Chelsea, 174 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY, www.aesop.com—Amber Kallor
Photos: Courtesy of Aesop