Meeting with Marie Lassagne, Carole Falewee and Mony Deswelle, the three buyers from the jewelry department of Le Bon Marché, one of the most sought-after in the world.
By Sandrine Merle.
What does the jewelry department at Le Bon Marché represent today?
This jewelry department, which was set up 13 years ago, hosts around fifty brands with jewelry ranging from the most affordable to the most precious. We try to bridge the huge gap between the jewelers of Place Vendôme like Chaumet and designers like Selim Mouzannar or Atelier Paulin. Many of them are French because Paris remains a formidable source of talent.
Who are the clients?
This sector, mainly dedicated to locals, is growing nicely with loyal customers who sometimes come back twice a month. They love gourmet jewelry with colored stones but we also try to surprise them! Fashion customers are becoming more and more interested in this sector. They all love to meet each other, and discuss jewelry… That’s why in 2020, we will welcome them in our Salons Particuliers (the former offices of the Boucicaut family) for meetings with designers or masterclasses on diamonds, for example.
How do you select the designers? Because they all dream of being at Le Bon Marché…
We try to meet as many of them as possible but let’s not forget that Le Bon Marché is the smallest of all the department stores: any brand we take on then automatically becomes part of our offer. Even if we follow our intuition and our desires, we have to remain rational by favoring those that already work well. Usually, one season is enough to find out. Exhibitions also allow names to emerge quickly, as was the case for Maison Violette and Atelier VM.
You said that the jewelry market is tough, what do you mean by that?
It’s a very competitive sector with a plethora of brands but also a number of discounters who undermine these brands with their copies. You need cash flow and a lot of qualities: an ironclad mindset and you need to know how to surround yourself with a good manager or go out and meet customers, who are very demanding. Unfortunately, few designers dare to do so, especially women, even though this experience is rich in lessons for design in particular.
So what exactly is your role, how do you work with designers?
Ofée’s bankruptcy came as a big surprise to us because her style and prices were well positioned. This made us think about how to support our creators even more by working hand in hand with them to help them develop, to show them other paths. It could be a pop-up store, a creative reflection during exhibitions like “So Punk Rive Gauche” or “À deux c’est mieux”, an initiation to fashion thanks to our style office, etc. We also help them in the management of their production, the constitution of their lookbook, etc.
What have been your best success stories ?
Like Aurélie Bidermann a few years ago, Charlotte Chesnais (known for her sculptural wired pieces) embodies her brand: she worked in a fashion house, she has good connections, etc. In addition to having come up with a great concept (the creation of jewelry using simple gold wire), Anne-Sophie Baillet, the creator of Atelier Paulin, is ultra-dynamic: her collaboration with Lancôme, for example, has been a huge success. Other successes include Room Service with its colored stones, Gaia Repossi and Maria Tash, a piercing specialist who was a huge hit at the “So Punk Rive Gauche” exhibition.
What do you think is the biggest trend around?
Exactly what Maria Tash and Atelier Paulin offer: personalization combined with experience. At Atelier Paulin, for example, the jewel can be made live by a craftsman at his workbench according to the wishes of the customer, whose own creativity is called into play. It’s a great idea that we at Le Bon Marché are particularly keen on.