Le Bon Marché, 160 Years Young
As the international fashion pack makes its way toward Paris, Le Bon Marché ushered in Paris fashion week last night with a lavish cocktail party to fête its 160th anniversary, complete with Champagne, petits fours, and a gospel choir. Hosannas were far from the only celebration. The retailer commissioned special-edition and one-off pieces from 160 brands, including Aurélie Bidermann, Pierre Hardy, Isabel Marant, and Zadig & Voltaire, and debuted a short film by Loïc Prigent called Catherine Deneuve Rive Gauche, featuring the face and muse of its 160th anniversary campaign visiting some of her favorite Left Bank haunts.
Though the film, which will be screening for a limited time at the store, is a portrait of the screen icon, last night’s celebrations paid tribute to the store’s own iconic status. Although they may not realize it, shoppers around the world owe a debt of gratitude to this Left Bank institution. In addition to being the first of its kind, Le Bon Marché revolutionized the way people looked at fashion by showcasing under its glass and iron roof (designed by an up-and-comer named Gustave Eiffel) in-store fashion shows, cultural events, seasonal sales, and innovations like mail order catalogs and home delivery (they also hired women and pioneered many workers’ rights the French now take for granted). Asked what would have lured her to Bon Marché back in the day, designer Chantal Thomass replied with typical French repartie: “Mais…this store was far too chic for me when I was 18 years-old!”
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