Merci Boutique

12. 004Merci boutique

Merci (“thank you”) is more than an essential French word that visitors need to know when visiting Paris. MERCI is a multi- brand fashion and lifestyle concept store that was previously a wallpaper factory for over a century. Prior to a recent ownership change, Bernard and Marie-France Cohen turned it into a spec- tacular shopping and leisure destination that opened in 2009. The duo is also known as the masterminds behind Hollywood’s popular children’s fashion brand, Bonpoint, which is also avail- able on-site.

MERCI is situated in Haut-Marais, a boho-chic historical tangle of narrow streets that is north of the hustle and bustle of the city center. A green paved courtyard leading to the tucked- away store entrance contrasts with the legendary and flashy red MERCI vehicle that is parked permanently by the steps.

Architect Valérie Mazérat designed MERCI with an elabo- rately modern, inviting and cozy feel in a trendy loft environment. The unique and intriguing wonderland hub spans three floors with beautiful high ceilings and a signature glass roof.

Not in a shopping mood? The ambiance alone makes it worth stopping in for a browse. Sunlight pours through the rooftop, giv- ing prominence to the artsy decoration and beautifully displayed, stylish women’s and men’s merchandise.

Vintage and contemporary furniture coexist while clothing and accessories harmoniously share racks and displays. The fashion corner features a curated mix of wardrobe basics and high-end limited edition pieces by Comme des Garçons, Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, YSL, Stella McCartney and more. Of everything on display, the MERCI brand pieces that are designed exclusively for the store are la crème de la crème. As fancy as that sounds, MERCI actually has a unique and enjoyable low-key boho ambiance. The wide price range somewhat mirrors the surprising spectrum of people you will see there: curious tourists, students on a budget, well-heeled fashion editors, celebrities, artists and socialites wandering in and out of the store, the in- house “Used Book Café” or adjoining restaurant. There is truly something for everyone.

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The sensational venue does not abide by a set of traditional retail rules. What gives MERCI that “je ne sais quoi” is not just the carefully curated sartorial collections for the discerning shopper. The philanthropic ethos at the core of its operations is also an excellent reason to indulge in a serious shopping spree (preferably tax-free). Profits are invested into an endowment fund for development and educational projects in Madagascar. The store is also a notable platform where independent and emerging fashion designers can showcase their talent and build brand awareness. We are all for it!

With 40% of its Paris customers being foreigners, a global expansion surely isn’t too presumptuous. In 2017, MERCI will hop on the Channel Tunnel to bring a bit of French culture to London in-between Saint Pancras station and the historical Central Saint Martins fashion and art school. It’s an exciting addition, and British fashionistas will no doubt be thankful!

Text by Sissi Johnson