1962 : the first concept store in Paris
Catherine Chaillet created Victoire.
“In 1962, I began to work for Lalonde, a fabric wholesaler. I was in charge of choosing the colors. They had the future Victoire store on Place des Victoires, where they displayed their samples. In April 1964, Lalonde asked me to transform it. I accepted but under one condition: I wanted carte blanche! That’s how Victoire came to life. At the beginning, I had no strategy; I relied on instinct.
I put industrial objects and storage units in pinewood from the Carpathians, an orange carpet, Japanese wallpaper on the walls, beautiful armchairs and leather curtains for the changing rooms…
The shop was rather spectacular indeed! We had the basics on one side – perfect cut, perfect fabric. And we had the experiments on the other side. For instance, I ordered watches from Lip with small removable ruffs on them; I created a collection with Lalonde’s fabrics; I had dresses by Donald Davies as well as clothes designed by the Finnish designer Marimekko…
Victoire started with small unpredictable ideas, which led to its great success. Everything would bring me joy. I did the windows myself, so I improvised all the time! Once, I put racks with about a hundred dresses on them, like in a Russian ballet. For another window display, I had ordered Parisian cobblestones and covered the floor with them. Then I added some stilettos and old dusty bottles of wine from the wine shop next door! Most major newspapers and magazines had their offices in the neighborhood, so fashion journalists came by, as neighbors.
I would create a look and the next day it would be in Elle or Marie-Claire magazine. We truly benefited from timely and praising articles. Journalists liked the originality of our products, and the fact that we were totally beyond standards or any rules. At the beginning, we were a symbol of a liberation. We had this complicity and joie de vivre that we shared with our customers and created an exciting and exhilarating energy.”