Ah, the concept store. Prescriptive, arrogant, attractive, alternately kitschy-cheap and prohibitively expensive; it’s hard to avoid mixed feelings when dealing with these store-size display cases of “cool”. Except, that is, if you wander up the Rue Vieuville in Montmartre and stop by Spree on a lazy, sunny afternoon.
This gallery/boutique was started 8 years ago by low-key creative couple Roberta Oprandi and Bruno Hadjadj, she a designer, he an artist, with the unambiguous purpose of allowing their inspirations to mingle and match.
Whereas fad-meccas like Colette inevitably make you feel like you’re walking into a museum where the docents are the judges and executors of trendy, Spree manages to elusively walk the line of cozy, intriguing and unpretentious. Perhaps it’s the easy smile and friendly manner of the salespeople and owners, or the effortless blending of art and clothes throughout the store, but visitors are refreshingly not made to feel as if they do or don’t belong, and are finally free to be as curious or unimpressed as any shopper should.
On my last visit, artist Bernat Sanso’s work anchored the front of the boutique – from the centerpiece sculpture with a distinct nod to Giacommetti, to the “contemporary cave paintings drawing on archaic pictograms” that filled the walls, nudging an Isabel Marant coat and Marc Jacobs handbags placed just so on Pagholz chairs. The display case contained clothes and was color coordinated with the artwork hanging behind it, in a playfully literal mimic of the store’s founding theme. Bruno Hadjadj’s pieces can also be found throughout the store permanently, and in the past the duo has featured the likes of Damien Peyret, Patrick Messina and Ward Yoshimoto.
Down the central spine of the store, Helmut Lang jeans are matched with straw fedoras and fringed boots under the benevolent eye of Suzie Smith dolls. Kuhn Keramik tableware (“I hate everything”) and Martin Margiela selections populate a tabletop lined by Friso Kramer chairs that are, of course, also for sale. As you finally emerge into the racks that fill the back of the store, the idea of feast after famine comes to mind when faced with row after row of thoughtfully matched pieces. Find a complete list of the designers they carry here.
After emerging from Spree, I marveled at the fact that instead of feeling cluttered and overwhelmed by brands and price tags, sensorial imprints of fabrics, colors, shapes and textures entertained me for the rest of the day. Spree, mission accomplished!
Spree, 16 rue de la Vieuville, Paris, 75018, 01 42 23 41 40
Colette, 213 rue Saint-Honoré, Paris 75001, 01 55 35 33 90