Putting together a shortlist of the best boutiques Paris has to offer is no simple task. As a trendsetting powerhouse for fashion and design, the French capital houses too many notable boutiques and concept stores to comfortably count in one succinct list.
That's why I've chosen to instead offer a more condensed list of only the most coveted, sought-after multibrand Paris boutiques-- concept stores that have managed to prevail through the fickle winds of fashion trends to become destinations and names in their own right.
Just a note before you get to the good stuff: while these shops aren't especially compatible with tighter budgets, visiting during the annual sales in Paris can allow you to treat yourself to a special piece you wouldn't otherwise be able to afford.
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Colette on Rue St. Honoré in the 1st arrondissement isn't merely a destination for fashion victims-- it's a spot where the style-conscious flock to soak in the latest arrivals in design, electronics, beauty products and books. And let's not forget the designer clothes (established and up-and-coming creators share the floor here). The basement-level "water bar" offers cave-like conditions to retreat from the muggy streets during the summer, albeit with somewhat overpriced food and drink.
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This relative newcomer to the Paris concept boutique scene is degrees less pretentious than Colette, but offers the same attention to promising new designers and fresh ideas in fashion. Price tags are too steep for most of us, but going here for a little inspiration can still be worth the trek to a quiet corner of west Paris, just around the corner from the legendary Bon Marché department store.
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Situated in the heart of the trendy Rue Montorgueil neighborhood in the center of the city, Kiliwatch is a local temple for the discerning vintage fashion fan. This is far from being a bargain bin, but you can often find gorgeous designer pieces here for relatively reasonable prices-- especially during the "soldes" in the summer and winter. Kiliwatch also offers some new clothing, and has an onsite fashion bookshop.
Address: 64 rue Tiquetonne, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Etienne Marcel or Sentier
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First launched in the early 80's as a men's-only concept store on the Champs-Elysees, L'Eclaireur now has several locations around the city and is the brainchild of fashionista couple Martine and Armand Hadida. One of the boutiques is housed in the former stables of a private manor, in a perfectly hidden spot near the Place des Victoires. While L'Eclaireur is specialized in men's creations, some locations also carry women's clothing, in addition to home design and objets d'art.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Housed in a sunny loft in the ultratrendy Oberkampf neighborhood, Merci is one of the few designer boutiques in the city to cultivate a cozy atmosphere-- couches, reading areas and all. Nonetheless, it still manages to come off as avant-garde. From classics like Yves Saint Laurent to creations from young local designers, Merci offers a selection that will sate both the religiously fashionable and the occasional dabbler.
Searching for strange? Make sure to check out our guide to 9 of the weirdest shops in Paris, from curiosity cabinets to eccentric vintage stores to ratcatchers and quirky bookstores staffed by wannabe bohemians. These spots will have you cringing, giggling, or both-- and may help you find an odd gift or accessory for that cousin who reminds you of Little Edie Bouvier.