Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gap’s French Accent

In well-traveled fashion circles, retail doesn’t get much hipper than Colette. The uber-cool Paris boutique is a showcase for up-and-coming fashion labels, limited-edited products and high-quality brands, from the past and present. More than a store, Colette is a meeting point of fashion and culture for well-heeled hipsters and fashionistas of all ages and stripes from around the globe.

Now, in a surprising collaboration, Colette has joined forces with Gap, whose own hip quotient has been sorely lacking in recent years. The two retailers have joined forces to open a one-month pop-up store adjacent to Gap’s Manhattan flagship on Fifth Avenue and the corner of 54th Street. (It closes on Oct. 5.)

Replicating Colette’s Paris store concept, Colette + Gap features a combination of unique Colette products, otherwise unavailable here, along with items created especially for the temporary store. Prices run the gamut from $10 to $400.

The merchandise ranges from such signature Colette items as stationery, candles, CDs and room fragrances to limited edition T-shirts designed by French and New York artists. Iconic Gap items, such as the trench coat and sweatshirt, have been reinterpreted by designers selected by Colette. A French artisan has designed a collection of key trinkets styled after such classic Gap products as jeans and denim jackets.

According to Gap, the space is designed to capture the spirit of the Paris boutique. The walls are white, and feature unusual typography depicting letters of the alphabet. An illustrated motif that shows cranes lifting shipping cranes, the American flag and boxes with the respective Colette and Gap logos is featured on the walls. The construction theme continues in a yellow-and-black-striped decorative border that recalls the tape used in construction areas.

Colette + Gap is fun. And while it won’t turn around the chain’s image nationwide, it has created quite a buzz on New York’s retail scene. Gap is cool again. At least for a month.

Marianne Wilson

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