Once upon a time, in Paris, France, there were three colorful stores lined up along the Canal St Martin. Every morning, oblivious of la grisaille, (the grey skies) the three stores cheered up busy city dwellers. “Regardez-nous! Regardez-nous,” they enticed. Look at us, Look at us! And among the hurried commuters on their way to the office, many slowed down, tempted, and finally stopped, indulging in a few stolen moments of lèche-vitrine (window shopping.) Others shouted back: “I will return at lunchtime!” For who could resist the cheerful, irresistible window displays of Antoine et Lili ? The child in each of us could not resist candy years ago. He won’t resist candy now. And this is exactly what Antoine et Lili is: eye candy…
But wait: Isn’t it a well-known fact Parisian women only dress in black, grey or navy blue? Think again, my little friends!Even though Antoine et Lili can be found at several locations in downtown Paris (and in other major cities in France,) this French Girl always returns to the same stores, located in the République neighborhood, by peaceful Canal St Martin. It does not hurt that Le Brother‘s office is five minutes away. It’s become a bit of a Parisian tradition: I arrive early to meet him for lunch, so I can visit the stores on the way.
|Le Brother: “So, what did you do this morning?”
French Girl: “Oh, you know… A little bit of this… A little bit of that…
Antoine et Lili was created about twenty years ago in the Montmartre neighborhood. The young brand made a splash right away: It was fun and did not take itself seriously. Always flattering and eye-catching, the ready-to-wear collections offered an irresistible mix of exotic designs and more traditional lines. The home decor collections found their inspiration in Asia, or India. By 2000, Antoine et Lily had won over the “Bobo” (Bourgeois-Bohême) crowd. Alongside the old Canal St Martin, the heart of “Boboland,” the three colorful stores became as incontournables (inescapable,) as a happy hour apéritif chez Prune.
|Home decor in the yellow [façade] boutique…|
|Hip collections for little Parisians in the green boutique…|
|Women’s collections in the pink boutique…|
Today, the brand and its ethno chic collections attract a wide variety of shoppers.&or this French expat, who lives year round in American suburbia where shopping almost always involve chain stores and a local mall, visiting an Antoine Et Lili boutique is a treat, a change of pace, an excuse to feel like a girly girl. It is a also an opportunity to see, to touch – and sometimes select – special pieces of clothing, made of attractive natural materials (wild silk, woven cotton, linen or wool.) Chez Antoine et Lili, customers still get to read the magical (endangered) words: Made in France on many items.
Antoine et Lily’s clothes are unique and flattering. My favorite pieces: les hauts (tops,) les bijoux (costume jewelry) and les chaussures (shoes.)
I am lucky I often visit during les Soldes (Sales are government regulated and happen twice a year,) because Antoine et Lili‘s collections aren’t cheap. But if you don’t want to splurge, there are affordable accessories to bring home as a souvenir, a necklace, a brooch, or a cheerful scarf.
Spring 2018 update: Antoine et Lili have finally invested in a brand-new website, (like this French Girl,) and that was definitely a good move! Check out the current collection and tell me you would be able to walk past these colorful displays without stopping! There is a time for everything, and le lèche-vitrine (window shopping) can only be rewarding for so long, n’est-ce-pas?