Antoine et Lili: Brightening up citylife one collection at a time

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?


A bientôt.

Text and photos unless otherwise noted by French Girl in Seattle

Do not use without permission.

— French Girl in Seattle.

 

Chez Prune, Quai de Valmy, Paris

 



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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)

16 Comments

  • I adore your fashion posts and before I got to the plum comment-I thought to myself …”hum v is in a purple kind of mood…” I think I would definitely shop there maybe a few key pieces-a dress or coat and accessories – the colored stores are so happy-bright … Montmartre seems to give birth to a lot of nice stores do you know sept cinq -they ship to me and the store is owned by two friends who opened up last November- they did the renovations and decorating–all goods are made in france-they are great girls– a true pleasure to deal with and I subscribe to a letter service called LETTRES D’UN INNCONNU -I receive 2 letters a month from a stranger to a stranger(me)-The founder and owner lives and has her studio in Montmartre-another wonderfully kind and innovative business woman-and now I learn Antoine and lili was given birth to in the same neighborhood…as always a GREAT FUN post…HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK-

    • Bonjour g. I do not know that store in Montmartre. Is there a website I could visit to get a better idea? That letter service sounds mysterious too… “Lettres d’un Inconnu…” — So you basically get letters written in French ? Do you get to reply in French also?

    • v- yes the letters are in French or English. I chose French-7.95euro per month or 81.95 euro for 1 year- you can respond and are encouraged to do so. i do not respond, as I lack confidence in my French. Fanny the owner/innovator wanted to bring back the lost art of letter writing. I think I may have been their first non French customer-we have exchanged cards/letters and emails. I ADMIRE HER SO-I actually discovered the service-through MY LITTLE PARIS-there is a blog, website, facebook twitter – I have been touched by the stories- the personal tales and sharing-I really do look forward to them. SEPT CINQ has a facebook page and an e boutique coming hopefully by year’s end- ines de la fressange featured the store in her Ines Little Diary videos-via Roger Vivier-I contacted them voila a “relationship” was born-Lorna and Audrey all goods as I have said are made in France-by artists/designers-and the prices are fair!

    • How sad for our generation that we need entrepreneurs to keep us writing letters, but I see the point of Fanny’s business. I wish you would attempt short replies in French. Maybe on a postcard?

      I am familiar with My Little Paris and receive their email newsletter on a regular basis. They always come up with the most interesting ideas of things to do in Paris.

      Sept Cinq sounds like a winner. If the great Inès featured them in one of her video clips, and you recommend them too, that is good enough for me. I will look into it. Funny, I was thinking about writing a story about the Little Diary videos, but there are so many good ones, it is hard to choose.

      Take care, g, from Philadelphia!

  • I just love visiting Paris to go shopping! I’m going for part of my honeymoon next year and definitely want to stop at one of these stores. Thank you for sharing!

  • Oh I love this part of Paris, and love this shop! I agree, it’s the Canal St. Martin location that’s the best. The way the colors of the facade reflect on the canal – it’s magic! And Chez Prune… a favorite spot to visit, too. Thanks for taking me there.
    Hope you are staying dry on this stormy Seattle night, Veronique! XO

    • Bonjour Jeanne. Isn’t that photo of the buildings reflecting in the Canal just glorious? Wish I had taken it… I can tell you have enjoyed “Boboland,” during a previous Parisian visit. This used to be a pretty grim neighborhood twenty or thirty years ago. Sometimes, gentrification is a good thing…

  • Oui, I have shopped there! Tonight, I would buy one of the little black silk dresses.
    Fun post, Veronique! Terrific new header and very clever. All the best ~ Sarah

  • We enjoyed a wander around the Canal St Martin district in June. It was a glorious, hot summer’s day and there were groups of people having a picnic on the side of the canal – a wonderful, relaxed bohemian atmosphere. What a pity I missed this cute store! The second image with the bright façades and colours reflecting in the water is stunning.

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