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!”
For Didier Ludot’s celebration last night for the tenth anniversary of his label La Petite Robe Noire, the fountains of the Palais Royal were scented with Eau Blanche by Francis Kurkdjian. Welcome to Paris. A selection of Ludot’s archives graced the windows of the galleries, tracing the history of the L.B.D.: a Chanel number from 1927, a Lanvin from 1935, a Grès from 1942, and so on with Balenciagas, Diors, and YSLs in the mix. The sartorial timeline ended with a very recent, as in two and a half weeks ago, vintage with a Marc Jacobs Spring 2010 look.
None of these beauties were for sale. Instead, Ludot sourced some more affordably priced vintage dresses for his L.B.D.-only boutique—about 30 of them have already sold—and is concentrating on his new, accessible DL Palais Royal collection. At the party, Ludot greeted friends like Chantal Thomass, Claude Montana, and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, while a rumored appearance by Lindsay Lohan had other guests in the crowd that included Alexis Mabille (pictured above) and former Emanuel Ungaro designer Vincent Darré, buzzing and lingering. The actress’ design partner, Estrella Archs, did show briefly. “I’m taking five minutes of air,” joked Archs. She and Lohan are still fine-tuning their process, she said, but promise a collection that draws upon the roots of Ungaro without going too literal. “We’re going for focused and purified with light dresses and a Mediterranean joie de vivre,” said Archs. “Tomorrow night’s the all-nighter.”