Paris Fashion: Finding high-end designers at Cheapo prices

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The Monoprix at 95 Boulevard Sébastopol (the Félix Potine building). Photos: Theadora Brack
The Monoprix at 95 Boulevard Sébastopol (the Félix Potine building). Photos: Theadora Brack

By Theadora Brack in Paris—

Calling all fashionistas and fashionistos! Last week were you caught madly zigzagging between utter love and frustration with Target by Missoni’s recent launch? Well, lean in because this Paris insider tip is for you.

(Target by Missoni’s 1960s Italian film-inspired campaign featuring Margherita Missoni was pretty marvelous, I must say. It definitely caught my eye. Besides, who doesn’t want to be a spy?)

So where to find similar designer collaborations in Paris? Here’s what I’ve discovered, along with a few tips on how to secure the coveted goods.

1. Monoprix

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, the French clothing line American Vintage by Michaël Azoulay will launch a limited collection of his signature t-shirts, hoodies and sweaters at Monoprix stores (Target’s French cousin) throughout the city. Pinch yourself. It’s not even listed on Monoprix’s Web site yet. For now, it’s our little secret, so plan to arrive early. Doors usually open around 9 a.m.

Monoprix at 43 avenue Clichy in Pigalle

Depeche mode

Not in Paris? Don’t fret. This is not Monoprix’s first tangle with a designer, and it won’t be its last. Like Target, Monoprix has been working with designers for nearly a decade. Currently Nathalie Lété and “La Cerise sur le Gâteau” by Anne Hubert are both sharing the spotlight.

Other collaborations have featured pin-uppity lingerie by Fifi Chachnil, pop culture-inspired shirts and sweaters by Lucien Pellat-Finet, and handbags by Vincent Sartel, the former creative director at Louis Vuitton Moël Hennessy. Why, it’s a win-sin for all.

So what’s the big deal?

Michaël Azoulay’s American Vintage shirts are super soft and comfy. Made of all-natural fibers, they’re also wickedly expensive. The flagship is located at 10 rue des Francs Bourgeois. Here the t-shirts cost about €80. But at Monoprix, they’ll run about €25 a pop. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, and Penelope Cruz don the garb. Just saying.

I’ve got my eye on Michaël’s long t-shirts with a scoop neck in taupe, rose, coal and ciel bleu. I’m also crushing on the Bordeaux-colored sweater dress that runs about a third of the normal cost. A “uniform” fanatic (it just makes mornings easier), I think I’ll be able to score my fall wardrobe in one fell swoop. The t-shirts are also available for men, too.

Here’s a historical tidbit for you: The t-shirt became a closet staple after Marlon Brando’s stellar performance as Stanley in “A Street Car Named Desire,” and its popularity is showing no signs of leaving, baby.

Make a new plan

Prior to your shopping spree, take a peek at the collection’s look book, if it’s available online. It will save you time. Create a wish list. Arrive early. Familiarize yourself with the store layout. Monoprix is also a grocery store. Upon your arrival, if you spot groceries on the ground level, quickly hotfoot it down to the clothing level.

If time permits, visit more than one location. Here’s a list of my favorite Monoprix shops. The one on Boulevard Sébastopol, pictured above, is housed in a Félix Potin building (a masterpiece!).

43 Avenue Clichy, 17th arrondissement (Metro: Blanche or Pigalle)
95 Boulevard Sébastopol, 2nd arrondissement (Metro: Réaumur Sébastopol)
56 rue de Caumartin, 9th arrondissement (Metro: Saint-Lazare)
21 Avenue Opéra, 2nd arrondissement (Metro: Opéra)
52 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th arrondissement (Metro: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile)
2 rue du Commerce, 15th arrondissement (Metro: La Motte Picquet Grenelle)

H&M on Boulevard Haussmann

2. H&M

H&M is another prime hotspot for designer collaborations. The chain will launch its “Versace by Donatella” collection in Europe on November 17, 2011. Other stores worldwide will receive goods by the end of the fall season. (New Yorkers, the preview party will take place in your hood on November 8. Good for you! Yes, I am very jealous.)

In the past, H&M has collaborated with Roberto Cavalli, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo and Lanvin by Alber Elbaz.

Tip: Not all of the H&M shops in Paris receive the designer goods, so kick off your quest at one of the larger stores at either 52 Champs Élysée or the 54 Boulevard Haussmann. It’s sandwiched neatly in-between grand magasins Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. Prior to the sale, check the Web site and create a game plan.

One last high note

Dear window shoppers, the Missoni flagship in Paris is located at 1 Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 8th arrondissement (Metro Saint-Honoré). Here Rosita and Ottavio Missoni started flaunting their flames, waves and zigzags back in 1976.

Your favorite Cheapo collaborations?

Cheapos, do you have a favorite designer collaboration? Did you score a Missoni for Target treasure? Do tell in the comments section below. My sister Wendy has already trapped one of their black and white overnight train bags!

About the author

Theadora Brack

About the author: Theadora Brack is a writer working in Paris. Her fiction has appeared in more than 30 literary publications, including 3AM International, The Smoking Poet, Beloit Fiction Journal, Mid-American Review, and the Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal.

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One thought on “Paris Fashion: Finding high-end designers at Cheapo prices”

  1. Looking forward to checking out your suggestions during our travel to Paris in October. Roger was most helpful providing my husband Steve and I Paris tips from the time you both lived there.

    Thank you,

    Mary Anne Howard


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