The pieces by Lanvin or Chanel that can be found at Sylvie Chateigner’s Paris boutique might be from a bygone era, but they look and feel decidedly modern. It’s a carefully curated approach that has made the store one of the city’s most revered vintage destinations. “The clothes aren’t interesting just because they’re by a name like Saint Laurent,” says Chateigner. “I won’t sell a jacket with big padding on the shoulders because it’s not right for now. The difference is, these clothes are from yesteryear, but you can still them wear today.”
But what first grabs one’s attention, before the store’s stellar stock selection, is its name: Thanx God I’m a VIP. “The name was a joke,” laughs Chateigner, who, as the doorwoman of a club in the ’90s, was besieged by claims of VIP status. Tongue-in-cheek moniker in place, she set up shop in 1994 on Rue Montorgueil, amid the heady atmosphere of Paris’s burgeoning house‑music scene, and threw dance parties to promote her venture – raucous occasions that attracted art and fashion types, sometimes in their thousands. The events soon outstripped the store for Chateigner’s attention, leading her to close the boutique in 1998 – but she never stopped collecting vintage clothes. A decade later, she and her partner Amnaye Nhas opened a new iteration in the 10th arrondissement, where today’s clientele may happen upon anything from an enveloping canary-yellow Hermès coat (€900) to an early-’80s cap-sleeved Thierry Mugler dress (€450) with a black and white striped skirt.
The store, tucked away down an unassuming side street near République, presents its racks like a colour wheel, guiding customers on a journey from punchy pinks to royal blues, through evening gowns and workwear. Accessories range from ’90s Prada mules (€150) to a bounty of Hermès silk scarves (€240 each). Menswear is not overlooked. Among the pieces – all meticulously edited by Chateigner, who scours the city each morning, sourcing her treasures from private sellers, wholesale dealers and charity shops, as well as on buying trips abroad – might be a burgundy silk Jean Paul Gaultier waistcoat (€150) or a Burberry sportscoat (€250) in a beige and red Prince of Wales check.
It’s not uncommon to find model and designer Inès de la Fressange flitting about the store, which attracts a wealth of other well-dressed Parisians and fashion-industry insiders. “I used to organise parties for Lacroix and Chanel and have kept the same customers,” says Chateigner. “Before, I was selling them vodka with orange; now I’m selling them skirts.” But the high-profile clientele belies a democratic ethos. “The reason someone like Gigi Hadid likes the store,” says Nhas, “is because we treat them like everybody else. Here, everyone – whether they’re spending €10 or €10,000 – is a VIP.”