Paris: Funky designer shops on the rue d’Orsel in Montmartre

Handmade lingerie at Le Boudoir de Marie on the rue d'Orsel. Photos by Theadora Brack
Handmade lingerie at Le Boudoir de Marie on the rue d'Orsel. Photos by Theadora Brack

By Theadora Brack—

As a fashion fanatic, I’m always on the prowl for shopping nooks in Paris. For the love of precious time, I hate making the trek for just one boutique. I’m no diva, but I do like to shop-hop without a lot of hassle.

This week, we’re in luck! I’ve recently discovered a neat string of funky designer shops and studios along rue d’Orsel in Montmartre, so grab your hat and button your pea coat. We’re off to the races!

Affordable couture at Zelia's

1. Zélia, at Sur la Terre Comme au Ciel
47 rue d’Orsel, 18th arrondissement (Metro Abbesses)

Zélia Le Doyen kicked off rue d’Orsel’s revival when she set up shop here a few years ago. Soon other designers followed suit. Each boutique has the feel of an oversized closet in Barbie’s dream house. But this time around, the clothes fit! Sewing machines and chitchat abound! I always find the designers to be friendly and accessible.

Need a custom-made hat, vest, or ball gown fashioned in a day? It’s not a problem, as Zélia’s staff is willing to work straight through the night when duty calls. Decked out in flying putti, satin slippers and ruby red chairs, along with a Michelangelo-worthy mural that pays homage to the birth of dress creation, watch out for the scissors-wielding cherub hovering near the ceiling!

Marie in her Boudoir

2. Marie, at Le Boudoir de Marie
47 rue d’Orsel, 18th arrondissement (Metro Abbesses)

Looking very much like a curvaceous Bettie Mae Page with a classic French twist, the charismatic Marie Cazenave at the Boudoir De Marie spins handmade lingerie like no other. For months I’ve been admiring her work. It’s worth mentioning that she recently showcased a matching set of unmentionables made of rosy toile de Jouy.

Marie-Antoinette would have lost her head in this shop! I sure did.

Feeling all pin-upitty? Don’t you dare walk away without taking a sneak peak at Marie’s retro-diving, lacy-racy baby doll sets, chemises and gowns, along with bras, corsets and turbans. Mad Men fans, your hourglass day has come!

Sewn away at Killy Grind

3. Kitty, at Killy Grind
47 rue d’Orsel, 18th arrondissement (Metro Abbesses)

Clipping from Holly Golightly: If I could find a place to make me feel like the Killy Grind shop, then I’d buy some Ikea furniture and give the cat a name! Boasting rockabilly couture, along with accessories and vintage clothing treasures, Kitty’s dream team can often be seen working at their sewing machines. It’s all about the process, Cheapos!

Also, watch out for the shop’s mascot dog, Boobie! She’s a looker, too.

Got a hankering for more vintage clothing?

Le Grenier d’Orsel is also located at 47 rue d’Orsel, sandwiched in-between the designer shops. Still want more? Then backtrack it to Metro Abbesses. Nearby, you’ll find Le Caverne à Fripes at 25 rue Houdon. Patrick Lambert’s collection is always affordable and eclectic!

No pain no gain... at Au Levain d’Antan.

Also, along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the vintage clothing shop at 86 rue des Martyrs. Tip: The name of this shop changes with the wind, so let the stacks of vintage clothing and hand-written signs in the window be your guide.

Ready for a break?

Try a croissant or a pain au chocolat pastry (or three!) at Au Levain d’Antan at 6 rue des Abbesses. Flashback! Last year, Pascal Barillon of Au Levain d’Antan won the “Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris.”

Tip two: Every blue moon, the ladies that run this shop can be a tad crabby. But don’t take it personally. Just rise to the occasion, and savor each chocolate morsel and flake like there’s no tomorrow.

Carpe diem, Cheapos!

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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