The trunk desk commissioned by author Sir Arthur Conon Doyle in 1925 to the Goyard house stands like a trophy next to a picnic basket designed for the first bootless cars (early XXth century) in Vincent Marchelli’s office. In spite of being still in awe of the prestigious names forming Goyard’s client list – Prince Aga Khan, Coco Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, HRH the Duke of Windsor, Romy Schneider –, the refined Head of heritage blends smoothly into the scenery. Piercing blues eyes under a thick mane of brown hair, calm voice, the man cultivates the same discretion that sets the trunk-maker at 233, rue Saint-Honoré apart, where Japanese clients still also rush to during Fashion week.
Attached to independent houses, Vincent Marchelli stepped away from 15 years dedicated to the precision of Swiss watch-making to pursue a less mechanical path: luggage making. The brand had been on his mind for a while, yet it took him 4 years to convince Goyard’s C.E.O. Jean-Michel Signoles to hand him over the historical pieces collection. The house likes to take its time to establish its relationships... Since November 2012, he has been invested in a mission dear to the house’s new owner (since 1998), himself a collector of the brand since day one: maintaining Goyard’s heritage. Vincent Marchelli is in charge of its conservation and restoration.
Snoop to preserve
Every historical house has at heart the preservation of its heritage and its savoir-faire, as they are essential to its past and future history. Goyard therefore insists on producing its trunks and luggage the traditional way and, as much as possible, by hand. Therefore hopping from auction sales (in New York recently for a piece belonging to Lauren Bacall) to displays and flea-markets is a must to keep up to date with this heritage (600 pieces to this day). Vincent Marchelli readily admits that the Saint Ouen market offers a unique playground in which to scoop out pieces which will end up decorating their shops all over the world, completing the archives and keeping the collection alive. At Goyard, antique trunks can be found down to the production sites and workshops, they are left out in the open, everything but inaccessible. They must “live”, hence going back to their nomadic roots.
Set alongside the rue des Rosiers, and built on the eponymous passage Dauphine, the luminous Dauphine Market is covered with a large glass ceiling in the Baltard style. Since its inauguration in 1991, its two levels have housed eclectic and edgy goods, services and a unique exhibition space. The large boutiques are spread on the ground floor, while a variety of stalls can be found along the wooden upstairs walkway. Since 2013, it is impossible not to stumble upon a large orange flying saucer set in heart of the market. The imposing fibreglass Maison Futuro, conceived in 1968 by Finish architect Matti Surone, is actually a 650 sq ft house. A time travel machine, which reflects the market’s wish to have the visitor stroll from yesterday’s objects to tomorrow’s fantasies.
Bric a brac inventory
Unique and lively, the Dauphine market takes pride in its expertise and has specialized in edgy stalls, exhaling the sweet smell of the future. “The carefully chosen dealers know their product well”, says market manager Béatrice Mellet. “We try to select as many specialists as possible, to have a diversified market reflecting the spirit of the Puces.” Upstairs, the first section of bookshops includes experts in comics, books on art, cinema and photography, magazines and autograph letters... A vintage HI-FI stall, a groundbreaker in its category, is now included in the music section which gathers more than ten experts in vinyl records and HI-FI equipment. “This attracts a lot of collectors. On the ground floor, there are more antique dealers, specialists in lights, in pop culture, and other experts. We aim at being specialists while remaining authentic”, adds Beatrice Mellet. This power of influence combined with expertise attract both amateurs and professionals from various industries (entertainment, fashion, decoration, art...). And the market’s manager swears by its well ingrained eclecticism: “We try to open up to contemporary art with a few galleries, whilst keeping the classical and contemporary balance. The classical galleries are side by side with young fresh-eyed dealers, whom today’s clientele can relate to”.
The Puces of Saint-Ouen are a vast territory to explore. A small enclave signalled by a brick red hanging on 85, rue des Rosiers, the Biron market was created in 1925. At the time, rag dealers and junk shop owners, in a hurry to leave their premises on today’s boulevard des Maréchaux, created an association in Saint-Ouen and obtained an agricultural site for rent. Situated between avenue Michelet, the rue des Rosiers and the rue Biron to which its owes its name, the market soon saw the first hard stalls of the Puces popping up along two aisles in a hair pin shape.
From the beginning, the antiquarians of the Biron market have distinguished themselves with goods referring to art history, such as ancient artefacts and restored pieces. From one generation of dealers to another, the stalls keep on being passed on with the same wish to perpetuate this recognised sense of expertise.
His eyes still shining from a weekend of parties celebrating the end of the Paris fashion-week, Ayann Goses awaits us at the Galerie GAM, set within the premises of Habitat 1964. Though he admits to not being an early riser, this multi-talented gallery-owner, born into the antique trade, answers our questions with enthousiasm.
What are your ties to the Puces of Saint-Ouen?
My father was an antiquarian. From age 14, I followed him to the Puces: early Friday morning, he would take me bargain-hunting before dropping me off at school. When he died in 2000, I took over his two galleries and opened the Galerie GAM at the Biron market, then the Galerie Avril in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 2005 with my business partner Nicolas Palatchi. There, we show masterpieces from the 1960’s and 1970’s by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Serge Mouille…
Dealer in curios and textiles
Virginie Chorro grew up in Bordeaux, surrounded by antiquities hunted by her father, a knick-knack dealer in the rue Bouffard. She opened her own shop, L’art d’aimer, in 2006, facing the Jules Vallès market, and just inaugurated a second stall on the Paul Bert market. A new space where she can display her talent in baroque settings.
You are famous for your selections of ancient textiles. Where does that passion come from?
Ever since I was a child, my father has welcomed me into his universe. He let me choose paintings and objects, and shaped my taste. His first shop, next to our house in Castillon-la-Bataille, was filled with goods from the Middle-Ages to the XVIIIth century. Just pushing the door was enough to enter another world.
The taste for textiles came very early, when my father acquired costumes from the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux. We had a ritual: on Sundays, he let me choose a costume and dress up. I would then put them away, like trophies, in my treasure chest. On the landing stood two wooden armchairs, [now guarding the shop’s entrance] –from a church, I believe– on which I would sit enthroned and tell myself stories. As an only child, I would build a hut with two Louis XVI armchairs and a cashmere wrap. Fabric has always been important in my life; it is a question of touch, of sight, of sense. It triggers off old memories. I am also interested in objects: small animal pieces, trinkets from the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. I can just as well melt for a nice 1925 glass piece, for Art nouveau curves, a wood marquetry, or for 1940s objects. On the other hand, I am quite insensitive to contemporary art, too rectilinear and geometrical for me!
Like a bird on a wire
«I only come here for the fabrics!”, swears Serkan Cura as he steps into a shop of the Saint-Ouen flea market. “That’s what he always says, and then he leaves with a bag full of trimmings”, whispers the bemused shop owner. Indeed, the young designer stops to fiddle with rooster tail feathers here, deep-tyed python skins there... “Last year’s shoe collection owes everything to these exotic leathers I found here.”
That sparkle in his eyes has been shining since he was 13, an age when one falls in love for the first time. Serkan Cura was love struck seeing a bird of paradise, and the fire is still burning. His passion for feathers started at the Brussels flea market, on the nearby Jeu-de-balle square, where he liked to escape away from school. Serka remembers falling head over heels for this exotic bird, and later spending all his savings on a book about hats, which he also bargain-hunted on a Brussels market. It all went very fast, spearheaded by the desperate need to learn how to saw and to diversify his techniques: the first jean, the first hat collection at age 14, and then lingerie, corsets, fur, etc. “I used to undo clothes to understand how they were conceived, elaborated, and then sew them back up…” His fast-paced way of talking betrays a boundless enthusiasm when it comes to couture, corsets, feathers, birds… Serkan knows he is a chatterbox and he enjoys it...