Is finding vintage handbags in Paris on your to do list? There are thousands of fashion shops in Paris. Yet there are some hidden gems that only locals or the most seasoned Paris travelers know. We at 56Paris are happy to share our favorite shops in our beloved neighborhood around rue du Bac.
You’ll definitely want to check out LaGAllery, a shop specialized in bags from the 1920s through the 1980s. It’s at 50 rue de Lille, in our corner of the 7th district. We spoke to co-owner Guillaume Aidan about their unique concept and what it’s like to be in this neighborhood.
How long have you been here and why did you choose this area?
We have been on rue de Lille since 2012, and this is our second location. We started with a pop-up store, which allowed us to try a brick and mortar store after being online for several months. The test was so successful that we absolutely wanted to stay in the neighborhood.
There is a discriminating international and local clientele in this area that immediately responded to our concept. Even though we are in a niche market, the pieces we offer appeal to anyone who appreciates quality workmanship and the history of fashion. Therefore we have clients from the neighborhood, as well as an international and professional clientele.
Can you explain the concept and the history of your company?
I met my partner, Tania Barudy Vasquez, in the vintage timepiece business. Coming from the fields of fashion, contemporary art and advertising, we wanted to combine our talents and share our passion for vintage handbags in Paris. We decided to offer 20th century items at the best possible price.
What made you choose the period from the 1920s to the 1980s?
We don’t deal in pieces prior to the 1920s because we want to offer items in good condition that people can use on a daily basis. We wouldn’t want them to only be able to display them on a shelf. And the 1980s were just before the era of industrialization in fashion.
The new economic constraints oblige artisans to produce pieces as quickly as possible. While our focus is on vintage handbags in Paris, we also offer international brands. During the time period we focus on, the best craftsmanship is mainly found in pieces produced in France, Italy and Belgium.
What is your bestseller?
Without hesitation, the Hermès Kelly bag in box leather with brass hardware from the 50s and 60s. However, we don’t propose Hermès Birkin bags. It goes without saying that everything we offer is authentic. The Birkin has been a victim of its own success, since it has inspired copies that are virtually indiscernible. We want to insure that we present only originals. The discreet luxury of the Kelly also fits in better with our product offering.
What do you like most here?
It is an affluent, quiet, central area on the banks of the Seine. It is full of history and it has a real neighborhood feel to it, so it’s a great place to work, but also to live.
We are in the antique dealers’ district, known as the Carré Rive Gauche. Having our shop in this area lends a certain prestige to our wares. Though the bags are less than 100 years old, Tania and I are often referred to as « the handbag antique dealers. »
What distinguishes you from other shops in the area, and from other vintage shops?
Our door is always open, literally!
Our product selection and our prices differ from other vintage shops. We offer pieces from the most famous brands, but also items with exceptional craftsmanship from unknown designers.
Do you have other points of sale in Paris?
We have received many requests to open other stores both in France and abroad. However, the complexity of our profession lies in the selection of the pieces we offer. Each acquisition is the result of a personal encounter and negotiation. We don’t buy lots or auction items.
If we were to increase our distribution, the quality would suffer. So we prefer to focus on one store and offer only the best. We are seeing more and more clients come to us from all over the world thanks to excellent word of mouth.
At 56 Paris, we are lucky enough to have our agency just around the corner from LaGAllery, We share their love of style, this neighborhood and French craftsmanship. After you visit this unique and fascinating spot, come by and pay us a visit.