“As all good things must come to an end, after 20 wonderful years, Colette should be closing its doors on December 20th. Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and Colette cannot exist without Colette.” This statement filled the feeds of those in the beauty and fashion industry last Wednesday.
While much has been said about what Colette meant to the fashion industry, it was also significant for beauty, especially indie beauty brands. Even after 20 years, Colette remained committed to indie beauty brands when it could have easily cozied up to any brand of its choosing.
They’re inclusive in their perception of luxury, unwavering in their vision, and fearless in their curation. Filling 8,000 square feet across 3 floors is a daunting task, but combine that with a merchandising mix of super-expensive luxury goods alongside streetwear, magazines, toys, food, tchotchkes, and music, well, that’s an art form. Colette makes retail look easy.
BeautyMatter asked some beauty industry insiders to share their thoughts on the news.
Ian Ginsberg, President C.O., Bigelow Apothecaries and Bigelow Trading, LTD
Colette inspired merchants like myself to want to do better. They inspired brands like mine to want to be part of their world. They inspired creative minds to dig deep and allow their imagination to run free.
From the first time I stepped foot in the store back in the late ’90s I was in awe of the world that they created … the world according to Sarah and Colette. They had an attitude, they had an authority and the world stood up and paid attention … they made me want to work harder.
I’ll never forget our first email exchange … it was an absolute thrill for me not only to be able to work with them but to hear that they were a fan of what we were doing. I will never forget how incredibly gracious and supportive they’ve been … there aren’t many like them and I will cherish the years we worked together … one of the absolute thrills of my career.
While we all are saddened to hear the news I have total respect for the choice they’ve made. They are the most passionate and hardest-working people I know and I’m sure they can both use a good rest. No doubt we have not seen the last of either of them … I’m sure there’s way too much creative energy inside and I look forward to seeing Sarah and Colette 2.0 in the future.
Robin Coe-Hutshing, Creative Brand Strategist at Underground Beauty
The decision to close can be best understood by Sarah Andelman’s explanation: “Colette Rousseaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time, and Colette cannot exist without Colette.” As a former niche retailer, I understand that there is simply no one who could carry on or replace the exacting aesthetic choices and divining rod for uber coolness, which have made Colette a long-standing cult destination. Colette, Sarah, and their team skillfully make it look effortless but, behind the curtain, running a business like that is all-consuming. While it is a loss for all of us, I wish Colette maximum enjoyment of her newly minted freedom, and look forward to seeing Sarah’s next act. I thank them both for years of pure pleasure and inspiration.”
Alexander Vreeland, Founder and President, Diana Vreeland Parfums
In the summer of 2014 as we were preparing the launch of Diana Vreeland Parfums, I came across a quote of my grandmother’s:
“The first thing to do is to arrange to be born in Paris. After that, everything follows quite naturally.”
I realized that we had to launch in Paris, so I called up Sarah Andelman who had graciously agreed to carry our fragrance collection and I asked her if we could have the worldwide launch of the collection at Colette. She not only agreed to do it, but offered us a large window on rue Saint-Honoré. for the occasion.
When people tell me that there is no one in the luxury or fashion world today who has the vision, courage, and authority that Diana Vreeland had, I remind them of Sarah at Colette, Carla Sozzani at Corso Como, and Natalie Massenet who created Net-a-Porter. These amazing women have revolutionized the fashion industry.
Bettina O’Neill, Founder and CEO, Bettina O’Neill & Associates
I was shocked to hear of the closing of Colette. It’s been such an institution and inspiration for many of us in the fashion and beauty business. Every Paris trip included a visit to this forward thinking innovative shop. I feel bad for those who will not get to experience it.
Eddy Chai, Co-Founder, Odin New York
I remember visiting Colette when it first opened in the ’90s and being in awe of the world Sarah and Colette had introduced. It’s both shocking and sad that such an iconic institution will be leaving us. We were fortunate and honored to have launched the Odin New York Fragrance with them, as they gave a resounding cultural voice to brands. Colette is just as much a part of fashion as it is to the city of Paris. We wish them the very best—they’ve earned it!
David Pirrotta, Founder and CEO, David Pirrotta Brands
So sad to hear about Colette closing … Colette was one of the first concept boutiques that influenced and inspired so many especially in the fashion and lifestyle world! Colette was always supportive with launching so many of the young brands we work with through the years like RODIN, ILIA, DAVID MALLET, and many more. For a brand to get into Colette you knew that the brand was the best in class … Colette represented style, success, and approval for most of my brands.
Andrew Goetz, MALIN+GOETZ There is never a good time for bad news, but it’s something of a paradox to learn of the closing of Colette on the cusp of Bastille Day. Colette revolutionized retail, fashion, and design, not to mention the rue Saint-Honoré. As I dip my metaphoric madeleine into my brew of Parisian memories, I’m easily reminded of my first visit back in the late nineties. I can almost still feel the buzz and excitement 20 years later. Sadly, it’s now “le fin de siècle.” I’ll miss Colette indeed, but thankfully, I’ll always have my stock of madeleines.
Mathew Malin, MALIN+GOETZ
Likewise, I was working at Kiehl’s when Sarah visited me prior to the launch of Colette (in 1996-1997). And, the idea of Colette back then reminded me of my experiences as a buyer at Barneys beforehand: creating a unique shopping experience unlike anything in New York (or Paris). As retailers confronted with an evolving competitive marketplace, Colette has remained inspiration for speciality fashion and lifestyle retail, and, for us at MALIN+GOETZ.
Ulrich Lang, Co-Owner, Ulrich Lang New York Fragrances
I found it a depressing year for brick-and-mortar retail so far, with my very first account Departmentstore Quartier 206 in Berlin, and now Colette, closing.
We launched our fragrance collaboration with Aperture Foundation and Olivia Bee at Colette in 2014. I have always admired the incredible curatorial eye of the owners, which is rare in our industry. Of course I loved the categories which are now considered “old school” the most—books, magazines, and CDs. But I am not worried—I think they will reinvent themselves faster than you can say “Colette.”
Roseanna Roberts, Trend Forecaster and Creative Strategist
I remember going to Paris as a fashion student and being most excited about visiting Colette. This was a few years after it had opened and, as the first concept store, it offered a new kind of opportunity to step into a curated world of “cool.” I spent hours in the store during that first visit, taking time to admire each and every item. As the years have passed, I continue to feel a rush of excitement when I walk through its doors—especially when some of the brands that I’ve worked with have lined the shelves. Colette has truly been an arbiter of taste over the last 20 years. It has redefined the retail landscape with its experiential format, support of up-and-coming brands, and stayed true to an unwavering vision.
Sasha Plavsic, Founder, ILIA Beauty
Colette is one of the reasons I started ILIA. Their concept defined retail in a completely new way—they are the original lifestyle boutique that is viewed and watched by the world’s greatest influencers (before those even existed on Instagram). Colette was one of our first accounts, and I am wholeheartedly grateful for that opportunity, as it truly put us on the map and gave ILIA a presence that cultivated intrigue and respect.
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