Gallery/Bookstore/Runway/Water Bar. A key member of the Good Taste Committee retires.
Following a trip to Paris earlier this summer, I learned that one of my favorite reasons for going to this great city would be closing by year’s end. For as long as I can remember, the Parisian concept store Colette has been the retail embodiment of global style and experimental design — possibly even the birthplace of cool. On a busy corner on Rue St. Honore, this four-story retailer regularly unveiled provocative window designs, unexpected collaborations and undiscovered talent, attracting critical recognition and insider credibility. You could always count on Colette to deliver something surprisingly imaginative, original, and brave. If this store were a person, she would be as direct and disarming as she was enigmatic; a beautiful contradiction that always made sense.
It is hard to see a good thing come to an end, but my heart also breaks for what the closing of Colette might mean, in the broader sense.
Can the deeply original, but (intentionally) un- scalable, survive anymore?
Is the mass-market becoming the only sustainable market?
Do beloved spots like Louis Boston (Boston), Le Deux Gamin (New York City), Zenon (Eugene, Oregon), Dutton’s (Los Angeles) have finite life spans and is this what makes us fall in love with them?
Does the nature of true chemistry need to be fleeting…for us to embrace and appreciate it?
When a place, person or idea yields to whatever unknown market forces may be at work, I get a pang of existential angst. Why is it, with so many expendable options, that it is the rare and un-replicable that leave us?
Whether we know it or not, I think we crave these provocateurs, their discerning eyes, playful spirits and indelible points of view. We need these risk takers to continue to experiment, to connect dots between disciplines and industries the rest of us can’t even see. I know I look forward to seeing how design, art, commerce, pop culture, fashion, literature, music, and food cross-pollinate and amplify one another. Beyond the aesthetics, these visionaries make sense of things we didn’t know we were trying to solve. Their creativity opens doors and creates ripples, and ultimately raises the average.
I don’t actually think originality is getting diluted or disappearing, but do think that we, as consumers, may need to be bolder in recognizing and supporting these valuable outposts.
Thank you, Colette, for building an altar for our imaginations. Long live the many places, like you, around the world, who continue to take chances, and who unearth ideas that resonate, provoke and inspire us.
Let’s continue to celebrate you, with our attention and patronage, wherever we find you.