It’s not every day that you meet someone as dedicated and genuinely attached to their craft as Catherine B. The owner of two boutiques specializing in true vintage Chanel and Hermès, Catherine is very quick to point out that these are not secondhand shops. ” I am a fashion antiquarian” she says. And this sums up perfectly the subtle nuance of her craft.
Clients worldwide come to her for the unique and exceptional selection. The boutiques only carry vintage, in the true sense of the word, meaning that the items come from an original or limited-edition collection or that they no longer exist or are no longer produced. There is no bargain hunting at Catherine B. She buys at a high cost but also sells at a high price. It’s the nature of the game when you are a true antiquarian. Incredibly passionate, it’s not about the money. She readily admits that she’s willing to pay three times the price for an item if and only if she really wants it. Hermès and Chanel collections from the last five years? Not interested. Hermès and Chanel circa 1970’s or 1980’s, definitely.
More than a simple shopping experience, the boutique also boasts Catherine’s personal collection on full display for clients to drool over (figuratively speaking of course). My heart skipped a beat when a dark navy weekender-sized Kelly, known as the Kelly Relax caught my attention. I’ve always said that one day, budget permitting I would gift myself a camel-colored Kelly. As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats it. However, the Kelly Relax is really the icing on the cake. A Kelly? Great. A Kelly Relax? Better.
And just when you think you’ve seen it all, out comes the unique giant-sized Mademoiselle purse from Chanel. I rarely find myself speechless but there’s always an exception to the rule. Wow. I immediately thought of Miss B from A Girl A Style and her love for Chanel and trying to imagine her reaction to such a treasure. Oh and did I mention that Catherine is also the proud owner of the original Birkin, as in the one belonging to and named after Jane?
(Yes, ladies, this is the original Birkin)
As you might imagine, what was supposed to be a thirty-minute stop by the boutique turned into a three-hour visit and an afternoon coffee break. I do not think there is someone more knowledgeable about the history of the collections on display and the technical details of each item. Every piece has a story to tell and in a split-second, Catherine is able to give you a comprehensive description and background of the bag/shoe/jewelry/clothing you’re lusting over as well as how it joined her ever-growing offering.
Though the selection is currently quite extensive, there are fewer and fewer items for her to purchase for the boutique. Of course, there is lots of vintage Chanel and Hermès on the market, but not up-to-par with the quality requirements Catherine insists upon. She will gladly purchase Chanel tweed jackets that she’ll never sell just to recuperate the original buttons and chain to mend another jacket in perfect condition if not for the missing or damaged button. The idea of putting current buttons on a true vintage jacket seems absurd to her, if not completely lacking authenticity.
Such dedication and respect perfectly exemplifies the craft of Catherine, a true fashion antiquarian.
Les Trois Marches de Catherine B – 1, Rue Guisarde 75006 Paris – Tel: +33(0)1 43 54 74 18
Boutique Catherine B – 3, Rue Guisarde 75006 Paris – Tel: +33(0)1 43 25 64 92