Recent storefront for Parisian concept store colette featuring Vivement L’Ete.

As we hit-up Paris for our annual trip through Europe, one of our must-see destinations of course is one of the world’s most famous concept stores, the originator, colette located in the fashionable rue St. Honore near the Louvre in the 1st arrondissement. In the past 12 years since it started, many other concept stores based on a similar lifestyle and leading-edge vibe have popped up around the world, including yet another very cool store created by the Euro/American collective Surface to Air on rue de Charlotte (stay tuned for that story). However colette in an uncanny way has become so leading-edge and exemplified as the definition of a concept store that in many ways it’s on the border of being clich?. But still, people flock to it, as we did, and there are reasons for this.

Since it was redesigned in the last year, the store has expanded greatly including larger areas for their limited edition areas and art galleries which change monthly, a water bar in the basement that’s tres chic, a listening bar, collaboration sneaker wall, beauty counter, and outside exhibition space. Other than the not-so-regular leading-edge brands presented in upper urbanwear and contemporary apparel, is a photo exhibition by legendary fashion photographer Miles Aldridge (with corresponding photo books with intros and passages by the likes of Marilyn Manson and David Lynch), the launch of the collaboration curated by Arkitip Magazine with Paris street artist Andre (see our story on our sistersite, TheLabelLab–for the Business of $treet Fashion), a store-within-a-store featuring Hello Kitty’s 35th Anniversary, and an entire ghostly-looking sculpture garden off the top floor out on the deck.

Denim with plaid, flannel, suede–so American heritage we could not have done it better. That’s why it’s probably a Japanese brand.

At colette you can also find cutting-edge trends in taking current market momentum to the next level. First, colette is so into pop-up store culture. They had their own in the middle of the Gap in SoHo earlier this year which seemed an odd pairing at the time, but it worked, and then they hosted somewhat of a competitor, the Japanese brand Uniqlo as a pop-up store inside colette as a prelude to the official Uniqlo Paris launch of the Japanese fast-fashion retailer (created, no less, by the collective/agency/retailers/tradeshow directors from Surface to Air).

As for apparel collections, of course colette is on the whole Americana heritage vibe using legendary fabrics, wool, denim, flannel in pieces by designers who have clearly taken it to that Japanese-like next level. This image represents an entire collection of flannel denim with suede pocket pieces that looks so American heritage, it can only come from Japan or even Europe (who tend to do Americana better than we ever could and get away with it at incredible costs).

Chanel-like skirt influenced by Euro nu rave with neon embellishments.

Another collection worth noting is a women’s contemporary collection that has successfully combined Chanel-like skirts and jackets with nu-rave embedded neon colored fabrics to create a youthful, nu-rave, Chanel style. As outrageous as it sounds, it so works in colette -the store that started disco dance lesson nights.

Colette, like Surface to Air, is one of those stores that spills beyond its borders (yes, they have an online storefront). Colette is boundless in it’s creativity in that it produces it’s own music, which is always in high-rotation in hipster Euro clubs, and sells some of the most coveted art magazines and coffee table, high-gloss image books about various subcultures. You can browse in its books and music areas for hours.

Of course if you can’t afford one of the exclusive pieces in apparel, collaboration-central sneaker wall, handmade jewelry, or Kiehls beauty counter, they always offer kitschy little items at the register that almost always catch on in youth culture. This time we noted specific pieces of patterned cloth -from checkers to stripes -with a skeleton head attached, to be worn as bracelets -and a sign that you visited colette in Paris.

For more stories on colette, do a keyword search on Label Networks.

Miles Aldridge prints as part of his exhibition upstairs in the gallery at colette.

Parisian street artist Andre and his recent collaboration with InCase curated by Arkitip Magazine.

Hello Kitty, the official mascot of Japan, celebrates it’s 35th Anniversary so of course colette hosts a pop-up shop for the brand.

Label Networks on-site for the the Hello Kitty sculpture signing.

We made our mark.

Ghosts in the backyard.

colette storefront logo. It’s a lowercase c.