Monday 22 March 2021

Week 12: Rue de la Paix, then and now

100 years ago this week: Week 12

Turning to the back page of the March 23 edition of the Excelsior newspaper, I was delighted to find a beautiful full-page promotional map highlighting a selection of establishments on the Rue de la Paix and surrounding streets. 

How many of these are still in place today I wondered…

Take a stroll along the street with me to find out.

(Click on the image to see the full-size version)

Rue de la Paix: the major names of Paris

Displaying an axis running from the Place de l'Opéra to the Tuilleries gardens, with Place Vendôme sitting squarely in the middle, this attractive 3D map highlights some of the most fashionable addresses in Paris in 1921. 

It should perhaps be no surprise to find this kind of map for the rue de la Paix. Linked with luxury from its origin, it is arguably the most iconic of all shopping streets in Paris. It is not for nothing that it is one of the two most expensive on a Monopoly board (a game which of course did not yet exist in 1921!). When we think of luxury brands, we think of tradition and history, so would it be unreasonable to imagine that the brands present on the street in 1921 would still be there today?

Let’s find out. We’ll start at the Place de l’Opéra and work our way down.

23 rue de la Paix: Louis Marquis-Siraudin
In 1921, the Place de l’Opéra boasted an impressive large-scale chocolate shop. Louis Marquis and Paul Siraudin were Second Empire chocolate and confectionary manufacturers who joined forces at the end of the 19th century. Before turning his hand to sweets, Siraudin was already a well-known playwright and librettist, and much of his production used the theatre as inspiration – probably a good selling point for a shop alongside the Opéra!

This flagship store opened in the first decade of the 20th century, in what was then a new building. It is not clear when this store or the two brands ceased operations.

What is it in 2021? The building today houses a Benetton megastore. 

21 rue Daunoy: Léon
Léon was one of the city’s best-known hat makers. The family-run brand also manufactured headwear for the French military forces. 

I have found no dates for either the closing down of the store or the end of production. 

What is it in 2021? The frankly weird American Dream restaurant. The garish exterior says it originally opened in 1969 – taking over from Léon perhaps – but it appears that it may soon be changing hands again. 

5 rue des Capucines: Hartog Jr
This store specialised in jewellery using imitation pearls of the supposedly superior Potiez brand. Although the pearls were fake, an advert I found tells me that a necklace still cost 400 francs in 1920 – nearly as much as the average monthly wage of a labourer at the time!

What is it in 2021? The four-star Hotel Mansart.

19 rue de la Paix: Janesich
A family of jewellers originating from Italy and Austria who moved to France at the beginning of the 20th century. By 1913, the brand was sufficiently well established to enable the opening of this store on the rue de la Paix as well as a shop opposite the casino in Monte Carlo. In 1921, the brand was about to become very fashionable. The 1920’s and 30’s were an exceptional period for the firm who excelled at producing Art Deco style jewellery and accessories. 

Following the Second World War, the last surviving son chose to shut down stores around Europe and take operations back to Trieste in Italy. Today the business is still operating in Trieste, run by Francesco, a sixth generation Janesich.

What is it in 2021?  This unit is an outlet of to German watch manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne 

16 rue de la Paix: Rigaud
Rigaud was – and still is – a family-run perfumery. In 1910, Henri Rigaud, took over control of the business from his mother and opened this fashionable address to boost the prestige of the perfumes.  

Rigaud still exists as a brand today, but production now focuses on indoor air fresheners rather than colognes and perfumes.

What is it in 2021? Two jewellers have outlets at this address, dinh van and Burma.

10 rue de la Paix: Botot
The chic rue de la Paix was not only home to jewellers, stylists and perfumeries, but also a toothpaste manufacturer! Botot can date its origins back to 1755 when Edme François Julien Botot created the Eau de Botot for Louis XV who was worrried that bad breath was restricting his powers of seduction. The brand is still in existence today although I have never seen it on sale anywhere. Apparently the product can though be spotted in Amelie Poulain’s bathroom!

I’m not sure if this address was the HQ, a shop or a production site, or when the company moved out.

What is it in 2021? The only address from this map to have been demolished and rebuilt since 1921. Today it is an office block with a Breitling outlet at ground-floor level.

6 rue de la Paix: Grunwaldt

Pavel Michailovich Grunwaldt was a Russian designer of fur coats and accessories. He opened the store at this address at the end of the 19th century after previously owning stores in Saint Petersbourg and New York. 

Grunwaldt himself would live less than a year after this advert was published (his place of death is listed as the municipal casino in Nice!), but the shop remained here until at least 1938.

What is it in 2021? Glashütte – another German watchmaker!

3 rue de la Paix: Paquin
Jeanne Paquin was perhaps the first major female couturier and certainly one of the initiators of the modern fashion industry. Jeanne opened the business at this address with her husband in 1891, aged only 21, and built a fashion empire through innovative uses of marketing and communication. This address functioned both as a production site and a showroom, and the brand employed hundreds of people with branches also in London and New York.

Jeanne Paquin had retired a year before this advert was placed, but her brand was still going strong. It continued until 1956 when financial difficulties brought the story to an end.

'Sortie des ouvrières de la maison Paquin', Jean Béraud, c.1900 and Google Streetview in 2020
What is it in 2021? IWC Schaffhausen - another watchmaker, but this time Swiss!

2 rue de la Paix: Rozanès
Another jewellers shop, claiming in the advert to specialise in pearls (surely real ones this time!). The advert also mentions other addresses in Madrid and Saint Sebastien, but I can find very little information about this brand.

What is it in 2021? Guess what? Another watchmaker - Vacheron Constantin - this time Swiss again. 

1 rue de la Paix: Mappin & Webb 
A British silversmith and jewellery manufacturer originating in the 19th century and still in operation today. The shop had its moment of fame when it featured as the jewellery store the gang attempt to rob in Jules Dassin’s 1955 film noir classic ‘Rififi’ (see picture below). 

Mappin & Webb closed most of their stores outside of the UK in the 1950s. It is probable that the Paris branch also shut down in this decade, despite – or perhaps because of – its recent role in the cinema. 

What is it in 2021? The store is today an outlet of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels, who also feature on the map above, but without an address. Van Cleef & Arpels has been in existence since 1906, and has always been based on the Place Vendôme.

1 Place Vendôme: Ainé-Montaillé
The showroom of a family of rather traditional clothes designers. The label survived at least three generations, but I'm not sure when it ceased trading.

What is it in 2021?  A hotel, restaurant and boutique all owned by Chopard, a Swiss manufacturer and retailer of luxury watches, jewellery and accessories.

10 Place Vendôme: Cora Marson
A designer who seems to have been a fashionable hatmaker in the 1920s, and surely a very successful one if she could afford a unit on Place Vendôme. 

What is it in 2021 ? High-end French jewellers Chaumet, a 200-year old brand now owned by LVMH. 

24-28 Place Vendôme: Banque de la Seine
With all this shopping to do and the need for a substantial budget, a bank would have been very useful address to have in the neighbourhood. This private bank though does not seem to have left much of an impression as I can find very little information about it. 

What is it in 2021? French jewellers Boucheron, already installed on the Place Vendôme, probably also took over these premises when the bank ceased operations. 

235 rue Saint Honoré: Milon Ainé
A hosier selling - surely very luxurious - underwear and accessories.

What is it in 2021? An outlet of Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini.

Rue Castiglione: Hotel Lotti
Described in the ad as a 'Hotel Aristocratique', it was also known as the 'plus petit des grands hotels parisiens'. A family-run affair, it was comparitively new in 1921, having opened only a decade earlier. It continued to be a favourite of royalty and aristocrats throughout the 20th century.

What is it in 2021? Bought by the Costes family, it has been absorbed into their neighbouring hotel.  

4 rue Castiglione: A. Campedieu
Supplier of fine lingerie, childrenswear and household linens. The store must have been a large one judging by this description from 1909: "une grande maison de lingerie qui a été installée à Paris depuis de longues années. Elle occupe tout l'immeuble portant le numéro 4 de la rue Castiglione où elle possède au rez-de-chaussée un très beau et très vaste magasin. Aux étages supérieurs sont situés de fort luxueux salons d'essayage ainsi que tous les ateliers."

What is it in 2021? The Jovoy perfumerie.

2 rue Castiglione: A Sulka & Co
A well-known international menswear label, specialising in shirts and neckwear. Amos Sulka was born in Berlin in 1861, but founded his business in New York. Originally he made uniforms for firemen and the police, before later becoming the shirt supplier of choice for the rich and famous. The Paris branch opened at the beginning of the 20th century, and the firm also bought a textile mill in Lyon, to supply fabrics of the highest quality.

Amos Sulka died in Manhattan in 1946, but the company continued producing shirts until 2002. I'm not sure when the Paris branch - which included a production facility - closed, but a trace remains outside. At some point, the rue Castiglione had the names of the establishments on the street written in ceramic tiles on the pavement, and the name Sulka will surely remain here for a long time yet.

What is it in 2021? Franck Namani, a cashmere specialist for women and men.

222 rue de Rivoli: Madeleine Vionnet
Like Jeanne Paquin, Madeleine Vionnet was a fashion groundbreaker. After training in London, she set up her label in Paris just before WW1 - not the best time to launch any business! This advert in 1921 appeared just as she was starting to make her name, and is interesting in several respects. Firstly, the ad - and the wonderful carte de visite I found pictured here - is clearly the most of its time on the page, with a font and design that points to the naissant art deco movement. Secondly, it includes several lines of small print explaining that Vionnet's designs are protected, with any copying leading to legal proceedings. Clearly imitation was a big industry at the time, but Vionnet would not be exploited in this way!

It seems that this particular store on the rue de Rivoli was short-lived, with Vionnet moving the label to the even more upmarket Avenue Montaigne in 1923.

Madeleine Vionnet lived until the age of 98, and is still cited as an influence by fashion designers today. She retired in 1940, and the label did not continue after she brought her career to an end.

What is it in 2021? Jewellery brand Jade et Julie.

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