It’s one of those style truths: Parisians look great, and to be more precise, they look great without appearing to have done anything special about it. Fans of Lolita Jacobs, Jeanne Damas and Josephine de la Baume’s Instagram accounts are familiar with this phenomenon. It’s one of the few annoying things about visiting Paris, and despite the fact that the city has more than its fair share of boutiques, attempting to shop your way into "Parisianisme" while visiting rarely pays off.
So is it necessary to leave home and set oneself up in a drafty chambre de bonne near the Seine to wait for l’elegance to sink in? Nah, the next best thing to living here is to shop where Parisians do and, contrary to popular belief, that’s not exclusively on the city’s main fashion hubs Boulevard Saint Germain, Avenue Montaigne or in the Marais. The Parisian shop that stocks a personal assortment of high and low, new and old, is hard to find, but once you pass through the door, it’s habit-forming. Spree is that kind of store.
Opened in 2001 by designer Roberta Oprandi and her husband, the artist and film production designer Bruno Hadjadj, Spree – the name is a riff on the American expression ‘shopping spree’ – mixes fashion and mid-century furniture (1950s-80s) on a quiet, winding street in Montmartre that tourists rarely visit.
“We opened the store because we didn’t want to do first lines, we wanted to defend young designers. The big groups work to optimize sales, but we’re a little bit more poetic. The final thing for us is to create a wardrobe people want to wear,” Oprandi said.
Spree’s selection often comes from longterm personal relationships. Comme des Garçons PLAY has been a fixture at the store since Rei Kawakubo discovered Hadadj’s artwork and invited him to Tokyo to do an installation at one of her stores. “We argued about that,” Hadjadj recalled.“ But we’ve been friends ever since and we’re one of the few independent stores they sell to.”
One of Oprandi’s good friends was a childhood pal of designer Vanessa Seward and so when when Seward did her first collaboration collection for A.P.C., Oprandi contacted her. “We were the first store to sell it,” Oprandi said.
"Even with my own stores, I like the idea of a personal edit of my clothes mixed with other brands. I don’t have much time to shop in Paris, but when I’m in the neighborhood I will stop by Spree," Seward said.
As to what those elsuive Parisians actually wear, Oprandi and Hadjadj admit that it’s hard even for seasoned pros like themselves to come up with a precise definition. “Our customers are really classic, they know what looks good on themselves and they never buy something just because it’s fashionable. You could almost say the reverse is true, ” Oprandi said.
“They like quality,” added Hadjadj. “And that could be anything from a 35-euro pair of Antipast socks and the latest pair of Togga Pulla shoes, to a great coat that looks like forever from Isabel Marant, or a pair of Mother jeans.”
The media, art, music, film and fashion crowd that lives in Montmartre, plus designers like Rei Kawakubo and Vanessa Seward. “A store like Spree is really important for young designers,” Seward says.
Isabel Marant, Comme des Garçons Acne, Vanessa Seward, Toga Pulla, Maison Margiela MM6, MSGM and Pierre-Louis Mascia are brands the store has carried since its inception.
Film decor and Hadjadj’s own painting and sculptures mixed with mid-century design finds.
Pièce de Résistance
A storefront designed by iconic French architect Le Corbusier.
16 Rue la Vieuville, Paris, France.
For Those Who Prefer to Shop from Home
The store has an e-commerce arm, but for the real Parisian experience, a stop in IRL is mandatory.