PARIS–Despite being a French brand, Marithé + François Girbaud seems to do better abroad than in its own country. Over the past decade, its image has become increasingly associated with hip-hop culture, a style rather disconnected to Longchamp-wearing Parisiennes. Indeed, the brand’s tailored baggy pants had long fallen into oblivion in its home town.
In an effort to flirt with its country of origin, the label recently used the launch of its new boutique as a simultaneous promotion of local young artists.
The store’s original location on the 38 rue Montmartre closed on April 28 (to move to a wider space a few doors down). But the keys to the old shop were handed to a creative bunch.
A selection of 38 artists from various creative backgrounds were given 380 minutes to do whatever they pleased with the interior of the space, as long as they respected the theme of the number 38 (the designers’ fetish digits).
The once-bare walls were rapidly covered in graffiti, paintings, provocative drawings and more. Then, 14 of these 38 artists were selected, their works were magically transposed to the new space, and revealed during the launch of the new boutique on June 9.
On the day of the opening the place looked like a street art gallery, or perhaps a trendy art school’s end of year show. One thing is certain: The brand hadn’t gathered as big, or as fashionable a crowd in years.
As for the selection of clothes presented, they remain true to Girbaud’s ’90s silhouette, if perhaps a little pared down to fit a less daring, chicer crowd.
Yet the choice to show true urban art still respects the image they have built abroad over the past few years. The brand isn’t entirely re-vamping itself: Rather, it’s offering a compromise. The new boutique made an effort to scrub up for Parisiennes, and in return they were willing to look at non-black, non-fitted clothes for a second. Even if hip hop tracks (rather than Carla Bruni songs) were playing in the background.
Marithé +François Girbaud is now open on the 35 rue Montmartre, 75004 Paris, France.