Nowadays, there are a lot of concept stores around the world devoted to the trendiest fashions and lifestyles. But there is no argument that “Colette” was the pioneer. In December 2017, a legendary select boutique in Paris closed its doors after 20 years of history and continues to be missed to this day. Sarah Andelman was the co-founder and creative director of the shop. It’s been two years since its closure. But Collette still has a strong influence, as confirmed by the production of a documentary film of the shop which will be shown also in Japan from September 26. Sarah has been leading Colette for a long time. Apart from when she was at Colette, she remains creatively active till now. What kind of workstyle does Sarah have? Let’s explore it!
Sarah founded a consulting company, “Just an Idea”, soon after closing Colette. Sarah’s main job is to offer consultation and plan a collaboration for various brands and companies. “In terms of my working process, there is not much difference between now and previously. At that time, I was doing selection, buying and curation at the gallery by myself, and now I am making connections and curations in the same way I did then”. She has a wide range of clients such as Sacai, Valentino and Ikea to name a few. Using the network of designers and artists which she cultivated during the Colette days, she is working as creatively and freely as she always has been. The reason she gets a lot of love calls from fashion-oriented brands across the globe is her unparalleled creativity. Where is the origin of her identity, which has led so much successful creative work? “Be interested in anything at all. When I find something that I really like, I want to let everyone know as soon as possible! I try to value such an aspiration so that I want to support someone. And I always try to work with people who I like, because working with people I respect will give me new inspiration. By doing so, I can be a ‘new me’, I believe”. As much as she has endless ideas, it seems frustrating that she cannot realize them fully since she doesn’t have enough time to do so.
Colette attracted fashionistas internationally by always presenting new ideas. It has been the same since its opening in 1997 in Paris. At that time conservative fashion was the mainstream, and the shop kept challenging the audience with themes of “Style, Design, Art and Food”. For example, from the weekly-changing shop display to product arrangements mixing high-end and street brands, Colette continued to capture people who were keen to display good taste. “At that time, there were people who were happy to have a shop like Colette in Paris but, on the other hand, there were also people who thought we wouldn’t survive. Whatever people thought, I was convinced that it was important to open a shop in Paris which presented a mix of various elements. We wanted to display everything we love. It was not only about a lovely sneaker, but also about a lovely shampoo and lovely bottled water. Fashion isn’t the only thing that looks good”. At the time, she had to go to New York or Tokyo to see new fashion from around the world. She travelled to Tokyo several times and what she learned through going around the new brands and shops seems to have given her some of the inspiration to start Colette. She said what particularly inspired her was the attention to packaging and the shopper and detailed consideration of product displays. When asked if she would start a shop like Colette again, Sarah said, “I don’t think it needs to be a bricks-and-mortar shop any more. I feel like I have turned a page to the next chapter. I had a wonderful 20 years with Colette and I know the limits of what I can do. Now, I feel happy with not only staying in one space, but also spending time with my family as well as helping out various brands and companies. Nevertheless, running a shop is fun. When Sacai opened a pop-up shop in Paris for a month I enjoyed going there every day to see if everything was ok. Even though it was not my own shop, I enjoyed just being part of it. I sometimes wish there is a shop like Daikanyama T-Site, Tokyo, in Paris, or when I see an empty property, I think of ideas for a café or a gallery”.
Sarah’s office is located on the rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, where luxury boutiques nestle up to one another. She still has her office on the upper floor of the same building where Colette was located. The office is simple and based on the colour white. When looking around, you can find Colette-blue products, furniture with a high-end design, humorous goods and other items which have Sarah’s character. This is also the base of Just an Idea. “I have been using this space since Colette was still open. It is close to my place and is very convenient as I can walk from home. I like a space with white walls, and I try to select simple furniture. Here you will find a lot of things such as collaborated products I have worked on so far, things I am currently working on and my favourite magazines. It’s a little like a small showroom”. The office space is filled mostly with Sarah’s favourite things. Pointing at a framed photo hanging on the pillar in front of Sarah’s desk, she told us “this is my ideal work space”. It was a photo of a simple table taken by a German photographer, Karl Hugo Schmölz.Corresponding to the photo, Sarah’s office has simple furniture with an industrial feel. A shelving unit behind the desk is from Vitsœ. It is designed by an industrial designer Dieter Rams who is known as a pioneer of minimalistic design. Apart from the space, what is characteristic of Sarah is her fashion style. A t-shirt and a skirt with a pair of sneakers is her signature style and she was dressed the same when we did the interview. “This is what I can feel relaxed in most. So, I choose the same style both in and out of work. Well, I don’t separate my work and private life, and I don’t regard my work as a job since I am doing what I love”. I heard that she went kayaking wearing a skirt and t-shirt, which surprised her husband. Anyway, it is important for her to be natural.