I’d love to say that I stumbled across this mother and daughter collaboration in Paris, where we nipped off to for a few days – sans enfants – because I did lots of research and am secretly VERY clever but, the truth is, they found me. Their shop was a stone’s throw from our hotel and I walked past it each and every morning. It looked intriguing, even from the pavement.
Chantal Paillat (top picture, on the right) worked as a jewellery designer for a mass of French fashion houses – Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent to name but a few – for over a decade before branching out about twelve years ago to set up her own jewellery line called Marguerite de Valois; named after the Queen of France during the late sixteenth century. She bought a shop and started producing two lines of her own beautifully made, costume creations. In fact, here’s something from their ready-to-wear collection (the red heart necklace) gracing the pages of this month’s Vogue (Paris edition).
But I don’t want to write about her jewellery line. I want to write about her depôt vente de luxe collection. You see, you can’t help but love these guys; no sooner had they started making their own jewellery than they realised that they didn’t have enough stock to fill a shop with. So, what to do? They dotted their own lovely (Hermès, natch) handbags about the place for decoration, as well the odd scarf to lend a splash of color…they were never intended for sale until Parisians starting walking in off the street, asking to buy them. Second hand.
And so the business grew. They still make their own jewellery and now, also, have a thriving line in buying and selling luxury designer goods on behalf of real people who no longer want them but have kept them in impeccable condition. Some are a few years old, some are only a season old.
These days, it’s a family company owned by her eldest daughter Géraldine who Chantal (as well as her other daughter Emilie) helps out every now and again.
They tend to buy things straight off clients rather than only paying sellers once the item has been bought – i.e 90% of everything you see, they own.
The beautifully central boutique in Paris is not big and can only showcase a fraction of their stock – there’s so much of it that lots isn’t even displayed.
Happily, this means that the very best place to shop their store is online as everything is neatly photographed and catalogued.
This is all well and good but the real question is, if I had money to blow on an Hermès Kelly bag (I don’t by the way, changmoh.com is not *quite* up there yet!) would I trust them enough to buy one from them?
I have just got off the telephone with Chantal – I had a few fact-checking questions I needed to ask her before I could post this – and I have to say that I would. She says she has never, ever mistaken a fake handbag for a genuine one and in the unlikely event that she’s not sure, she has friends who work in Paris making bags at most of the major fashion houses (she knows three people doing just this at Hermès alone) and they’ll pop over to the shop and give her a second opinion. In any event, she added, French law is now so incredibly strict about counterfeit – counterfeit is counter fashion, say it with me – that if there was ever any problem concerning authenticity with anything purchased from her, she’d refund you immediately as she’s legally obliged to do. “But,” she added again, for emphasis, “I have never made a mistake with a handbag.”
I’ve met her, I have talked to her – at some length – and I like her. And that’s good enough for me.
Valois Vintage is a store with a serious reputation that Parisians have known about for years…but it’s not a secret anymore!
PS: Both Chantal and her two daughters Géraldine and Emilie (pictured above) speak good English so don’t be afraid to email them with any requests. They will ship to Singapore and beyond – just ask.
8 Rue des Saussaies
Tel: +33 (0)1 49 24 97 64