80’s – A showcase for young designers
Françoise Chassagnac was Victoire’s artistic director: “at the beginning, we really had to search for our designers…”
I went to the fashion fairs on my own. Thanks to my sister-in-law, a journalist from the Jardin des modes came to see my selection. She wrote a big article and the snowball effect began – customers thronged into the store! Young designers had heard about the store and came to show me their work: Claude Montana, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaïa, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des garçons… I still remember Thierry Mugler appearing in purple mohair overalls!
I took advantage of a time when fashion designers emerged – even the word “fashion designer” emerged in fact! Prior to that, women would have their clothes made by their seamstress or buy them in haute couture houses. The ready-to-wear brought a whole new approach to clothing. You could come out of a shop as a new person – that was fantastic! At Victoire’s, many women discovered the pleasure of choosing their clothes, playing with the colors and mixing different labels. We helped our customers discover themselves, create their own style and express something about themselves. Victoire was a hectic life. I kept buzzing around. I was either at the store or in fashion fairs, or at a fashion school as a member of a jury. And I went to every fashion show.
I remember an amazing moment of grace in the store, when a customer of mine fell in love with a gray coat trimmed with red, by Angelo Tarlazzi. The coat was very long and she was petite. At the precise moment when she decided to buy it, Tarlazzi came into the store. He saw that the coat was too long, readily got down on all fours and began to work on the hem. He spent about an hour on it, in the middle of needles and customers. That was Victoire – a place that created the opportunity for a designer who loved his job to meet a customer who loved fashion.”
Pascale Cadaux began as a sales assistant at Victoire’s in 1977, while she was still a student. In the 80s, she had a ringside seat:
“I saw Azzedine Alaïa arriving with his prototypes, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Angelo Tarlazzi who came to drop red and orange tulle underskirts! There was no way around for young designers – they came into the store, shaking in front of Françoise, who indeed had a strong personality and was very much respected in the fashion world. She taught me everything – merchandising, how to mix and match, how to see a look on a mannequin…
The place was just magical but the welcoming atmosphere made a difference because somehow the store was a merry chaos back then! We were taught to never sell anything for just selling. Many cars were double parked in front of the store and fines poured in because our customers stayed for hours! We had all styles of women – Bourgeois women from the posh 16th Arrondissement, Saint-Germain-des-Prés artists, or celebrities. I dressed Sydne Rome, met Judy Foster when she was twelve and journalists who later became famous…
The “concept store” was born with Victoire. Especially as the 10, Place des Victoires store had a smaller store next to the big one – “le Petit Victoire”- where you could find various objects that you would never find elsewhere – tableware, quilts, perfume, candles, etc.
Priscille D’Orgeval, from Elle magazine, tells us how she met Victoire:
“With Nicole Crassat, we did the catalogues for the collections between 1985 and 1990. Nicole had been chief editor for ELLE, then for Figaro Madame. For the catalogues, she got the best photographs – she was always one step ahead of everyone else. Nicole also had a talent for mixing the designers, which was not an easy thing to do, but perfectly corresponded to the Victoire spirit. And then there was this queen of fashion Françoise Chassagnac, with her sharp eye on fashion, who would take risks by choosing avant-garde clothes, always promoting creativity and trends. She would find designers who were just beginners and bound to become the big stars of fashion. Gilles Riboud trusted us and let us produce the images we wanted – it was like being in a think factory.
I remember there was a great atmosphere; we’d laugh all day thanks to Gilles, who gave a happy impulse to everything.”
In the 80s, Victoire was the only place where you could find Jil Sander, Donna Karan or Moschino, among others.