When There's Money to Burn: Vintage Shopping in the Marais (Paris)

When There’s Money to Burn: Vintage Shopping in the Marais (Paris)

“I’ve no idea when I’m going to wear it,” the girl replied calmly. “I only knew that I had to have it. Once I tried it on, well…” she shrugged. “The dress claimed me.”

I know it seems snobbish to some, but I adore how many Parisians leave their homes dressed like they’re ready to storm the catwalk for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent or Isabel Marant. I find it enjoyable to be in the company of people who either enjoy a daily dose of glamour or just want to express themselves through the clothes they wear. The great thing is that being stylish or hip isn’t about wearing Agnès b or Balmain from head to toe. It’s all about sporting a mish-mash of whatever suits you – labels or not – with grace and a whole lot of attitude.

Et voilà: a fashonista (or metrosexual, let’s be gender sensitive now) is born.

To satiate all the slaves to fashion that Paris harbors, the city is a treasure trove for vintage shoppers. Never have I been in a place that bursts at the seams with countless shops filled with quality goods – many gently used – at affordable prices. While you’re bound to locate something suitable in central Paris if you pound enough pavement, I find that the Marais (3rd arrondissement) is packed with gold mine after gold mine of vintage clothing; all in a 2 kilometre radius no less.

Admiring all the vintage goodness at Nice Pièce.

Regardless of how hard I try to only window shop sometimes, my will is often overpowered by price tags that scream “yes you’re reading this right: that Paul Smith blouse is just €80, those Chanel flats are an unbelievable €95 and that YSL tote is a mere €400).

You see, when it comes to this Intolerant and second-hand vintage goods, it’s not necessarily a question of whether I should purchase something. Sometimes it’s determining when I ought to stop.

*hangs head in shame*

Now I know some people (women mostly) like to keep their clothing hot-spots under wraps. I get it. Tell too many people and the number of elbows you have to the throw next time you pop into your favourite haunt goes up exponentially. I’ve done the same when it has come to keeping an amazing hole-in-the-wall goldmine to myself. I figured however, some places are too good to keep for oneself and besides, there’s enough goodness out there for all of us. The more you share the love (and great shopping spots) the more the Universe is bound to send back to you.

Ten-fold I’m hoping.

Violette & Léonie, a beloved favourite in the Marais.

One of my favourites is Violette & Léonie and with two locations in the Marais (27 rue de Poitou and 1 rue de Saintonge) it’s my “go-to” place in Paris. It’s one of the rare shops where – without fail – I find something fabulous without having to look too hard, for too long. Violette & Léonie carries women’s clothing only and has an abundance of shoes, clothes and handbags with both high end labels (Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton) and popular high street brands (Zara, Topshop and H&M) in stock.

“Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.” Bless your heart Marilyn.

Also on rue Saintonge is Prettybox Vintage, which is home to countless well loved, and cared for, clothing items for men and women from the early 1900s through to 1999. For those of you into fur, Prettybox has an impressive collection of vintage pelts and their shoe selection was drool-worthy. Luckily for me, my gargantuan sized feet prevented me from dropping any cash in there this time around.

MADEINUSED for more vintage finds.

Still in the Marais, but closer to the 2nd arrondissement on Rue du Poitu is MADEINUSED. With an eye for unique and quirky vintage items, Italian fashion consultant Vic Caserta has put together an enviable stockpile of clothing that has caused his shop to become a popular locale for regular fashionistas and professional clientele (e.g. costume designers) alike.

Nice Pièce was like being in Serena van der Woodsen’s closet. What? There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of Gossip Girl now and then.

Then there is Nice Pièce – Concept Luxe & Vintage. I was on my way back to the flat one day when I came across this Marais newcomer located at the tail end of rue Charlot (number 76). I saw the “dépôt vente” sign on the door along with a large black Chanel handbag in the window that was being sold at a fraction of the retail value.

You know what that meant don’t you? I had to go in.

And it was like being a kid in a candy store.

Giddy up! A horse with a sequin cape, very retro stylish.

There was a bit of Chanel here and some Balmain there. There was Balenciaga on the mannequin, Dior underfoot, Costume National on the racks and Martin Margiela on the ledge. Less than half a year old, the owner of Nice Pièce has – over time – quietly amassed a mother lode of designer duds that could bring a grown metrosexual man to tears. The store is filled with quality clothing, jewelry and accessories for both men and women at prices that will send a shiver of delight racing up your spine and make it some of the best coinage you’ll throw down (for clothes) anywhere in Paris.

Guaranteed.

Oh yeah…dance or die baby.

What about yourself? Where do you scavenge for Parisian vintage finds?

PS – don’t worry…I’ll keep it between the two of us. *winks*