Saturday, June 18, 2011
Paris Thrift Stores
"See, the sea wants to take me. The knife wants to slit me. Do you think you can help me?"
Who else, but The Smiths, can so effortlessly and lucidly send blows straight to the heart?
Ha! I guess being alone is not always a bad thing. We all enjoy it...sometimes. I mean, occasionally, I like being completely antisocial and selfish. I like wondering the streets of Paris all by myself, taking it all in. I don't like to share then. It's as if the city belongs to me. This sort of "alone" is fine. It's periodic, and refreshing. But if the Smiths are in the mix, wine is pouring, and the mood is pensive, it's probably best not to wander too far! This may be more serious. And a specific form of distraction may be needed. Something that can be enjoyed solo, and is only mildly, or not at all destructive!
My favorite places to visit, and lift the mood, are the many wonderful thrift stores of Paris. You never know what or whom you may find. You don't need an entourage. You can be reckless and you won't go bankrupt, and it's been proven that impulse purchases are fantastic dopamine boosters! You'll also be distracted by the mounds of colorful retro goods, and disco, afrobeat, or funk music! Well, as least at Free P Star you will. I guess there are many echelon's of thrift stores; some, like Didier Ludot, are really high-end, but most are definitely eclectic! I also like the late hours of operations at Free P. So if it's near midnight and you just then feel like you need to venture out by your lonesome, and purchase some cool antique cigarette holder, or hat, it is still totally possible.
In any case, whether you're solo or accompanied, here are my favorite thrift stores of Gay Paris!
Free ‘P’ Star
8 rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie
Absolutely THE BEST and unparalleled. It's total mayhem, kind of smells like thrift, the loudest, most crowded and disorganized. BUT the atmosphere is fun, the mess is liberating, the selection is wide, and the crowd entertaining. The owners clearly have an eye for the trends, so you’re bound to find some true treasures. Going in, you’ll come across the €5 bins and some great dresses, but don’t miss the little winding staircase to the lower floor for a ton of inexpensive leather and great blazers. There is also that weird mini mezzanine you have to climb to, and a strange tiny yet walk-in closet packed with wonders! Get lost. Enjoy!
Noon-11pm Mon-Sat, 2-10pm Sun.
64 Rue Tiquetonne, (+33-1-42-21-17-37)
I remember when this was mostly vintage...back in the day. Now it's well known spot, a pearl!
They have a great eye for unique pieces so you'll find a mix of hottest trends in both, brand new, and vintage categories. The store is known for being the place to find it all, and despite the fact that the it's become more commercialized over the years, you'll still find great vintage buys.
1 Rue de la Verrerie
Frip’ Irium is possibly related to Free P Star - they may or may not be distant cousins. The resemblance is vague, but undeniable. This shop is fairly small but more organized than its relative, with some cool shoes, vests and jackets to be found. The leather jackets cost a bit more at €50-70 on average.
La Belle Epoque
La Belle Epoque, 10 rue de Poitou, 3rd (+33-6-80-77-71-32). Métro St Sébastien Froissart.
In the shop you’ll find everything from the blue velvet Grace Jones ensemble by Yves Saint Laurent to a selection of inexpensive ’70s shirts and fake fur coats. Ex-model and theatrical costumier Philippe is always happy to share her expertise about the many joys of vintage.
Rag, 83-85 rue St-Martin, 4th (+33-1-48-87-34-64). Métro Rambuteau.
My friend Aldo works there so I always have to stop by. This is a two part deal. One half of Rag focuses on more casual getup like pilots’ navy jumpers and 1970s shirts at €15, colorful puffer jackets and ’70s heels; the other side is more chic and may yield a vintage Hermès scarf, 1960s Paco Rabanne dress or Gucci accessory.
10am-8pm Mon-Sat, noon-8pm Sun.
Le Verger du Prince
33 Rue de Sicile
Make sure to venture inside as there is a whole back room of cheaply priced leather jackets that is worth checking out. You can get one for €25. The front room has a good selection of accessories, tops, and dresses. The €5 bin is not always the best and may be almost entirely filled with old, ugly cotton t-shirts. Don't pay attention to the bin. Ignore it and focus on the leather!
32 Rue de Rosiers
Smallish but good. This is actually accessory heaven: they have countless cool belts and a good assortment of unique shoes. This one is in the Jewish part of the Marais district ; so make sure to grab a strudel, or a falafel while you're at it.
4 Rue de Fleurus
This store has a smaller selection and the jeans are no bargain at all. Great preppy basics though, but not cheap. Not really a thrift shop in the end, more of a discount store.
20-24 galerie de Montpensier, 1st (+33 1 42 96 06 56 www.didierludot.com).
The legendary dealer Didier Ludot has a couple of incredible antique couture shops near the Palais Royal. While riffling through the museum-quality fashions (everything from Dior, Chanel, or Givenchy couture to early YSL) you might discover an Art Deco evening clutch with a bamboo closure. This place isn't cheap, but neither are the clothes. 10.30am-7pm Mon-Sat.
10 Rue-Clément Marot, Eighth Arr. (+ 33-1-56-89-03-00)
Situated just off the Avenue Montaigne. This place is a must see, even though it is small and cluttered. The impressive stock includes items like antique trunks or tweed Chanel Sac Chine. Elegant? Yes, but not cheap!!!!!
Les Trois Marches de Catherine B
1 Rue Guisarde, Sixth Arr. (+33-1-43-54-74-18)
On the Left Bank, the more prissy and well-organized Les Trois Marches de Catherine B has been selling vintage purses for over 15 years. It's all about being "presentable," the owners claim. We're on the left bank let's not forget. So the pieces are in fact, impeccable, and mostly in mint condition.