3 questions for . . . Pauline Vincent, Director and Curator of the À Rebours boutique
Pauline Vincent, Director and Curator of the À Rebours boutique
After three years as a buyer for Galeries Lafayette, the young graduate of a leading business school and IFM opened the À Rebours boutique last March. Situated in the heart of Paris’ Marais district, this showcase for emerging creative talents is a collaboration with Lafayette Anticipations, the department store’s contemporary art foundation.
Please tell us about the Layfayette Anticipations Foundation.
Layfayette Anticipations is a public interest organisation based on producing and supporting every aspect of creativity. It’s a catalyst that gives artists customised ways to create, experiment, and exhibit their work. With its 10 March opening, the Foundation became the first multidisciplinary centre of its kind in France. It’s a true curating machine that presents new work from international designers in different fields: contemporary art, design, and fashion. The project was launched in 2013 with the impressive ambition of giving international designers from the art, design, and fashion sectors the means to experiment, create, and exhibit new work. We didn’t wait to be comfortably settled in the Rem Koolhaas renovated building to begin work. As soon as the Foundation was set up, a preparatory program was started to help the numerous artists and organisations.
What is A Rebours’ concept? What is its mission?
I’d always dreamed about a space that brought together art, fashion, and business. When I heard about the Foundation project, I was immediately very intrigued. Then, when I met the Foundation’s team we started to write down what the project would be. We wanted to reinvent the museum boutique as we know it today and contribute our department store skills as arbitrators, buyers, and scouts to achieve the creative goals and innovative philosophy of the Foundation. The choice of designers was made in cooperation with the Foundation team, especially Foundation Administrator Laurence Perillat and Galeries Lafayette Fashion Editor Alix Morabito. This made the boutique a kind of bridge between the Foundation and the Galeries Lafayette.
The primary mission of the boutique is to commercially express what could be the merchant version of the Foundation’s DNA and to invite clients to come enjoy an experience that’s different from traditional sales venues. Visitors can choose purchases from an exceptional, offbeat selection and play a role in local projects and small collections while supporting contemporary creativity and brands that aren’t widely available. The boutique presents limited editions from artists, designer objects, books, ready-to-wear, jewellery and other accessories, paper goods, items for children, and more. We also change the product offer every two weeks and invite artists and designers for installations.
How do you see the boutique of the future?
We are, without question, living through a shift in eras. The concept store idea is no longer relevant.
Boutiques have become centres of creativity and places for exploring; and it’s crucial to stand out from the crowd. Some of our À Rebours salespeople are artists themselves, which improves the conversations with clients and incites their curiosity and interest, two key angles today. Overall, the idea is to understand how artists and designers function and to learn to make better buying choices in line with a more responsible and intelligent consumption.