the origins / childhood

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childhood

… when I was only 9 I already preferred conversation to social gatherings

the origins / at the beginning

“When I was little I would read everything I could find about Versailles: Saint Simon’s Memoires, texts written by the curators. I dreamt of becoming a museum curator. And my grand-mother talked about the 18th century as if it were yesterday! This town gave me my Cartesian, logical, rigorous side, and at the same time my more whimsical, baroque facet.”

Since the very beginning, agnès b. has always designed clothes that never go out of fashion, compiling her own stylistic vocabulary from a combination of classic codes and street trends. The snap cardigan, overalls, dungarees, petticoat, striped t-shirt, perfecto, sweatshirt, pinafore dress… so many essential items that can be adapted to any style suit different generations. With the varied colour schemes, tone on tone, deep black, pinks that veer towards reds, motifs inspired by nature but also street art or references to period garments, the aestheticism of agnès b. is rich and diverse.

“self-portrait”, ca 1975, © agnès b.

the origins / style

“At the time, I used to wear clothes I had picked out at the flea market. She must have liked my style, for she hired me. I stayed for two years.”

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style

“At the time, I used to wear clothes I had picked out at the flea market. She must have liked my style, for she hired me. I stayed for two years.”

At a dinner party, agnès b. met Annie Rivemale, editor of Elle magazine. Fascinated by her allure, Rivemale hired her as a stylist to work on articles for the women’s weekly. For two years, agnès b. worked alongside Hélène Lazareff and Peter Knapp. She showcased affordable designs. She made some important connections during this time, with Elie Jacobson and his wife Jacqueline, for example. They had just started up Dorothée Bis. Agnès soon started to draw clothes for the ready-to- wear brand which occasionally worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Emmanuelle Khanh or even Michèle Rosier.

agnès b. designs were featured regularly in Elle magazine, such as this long white cheesecloth dress and the shorts-overalls (1977). They were also very popular with Marie-Claire. In August 1977, two garments which were to become emblematic, the petticoat and the leather jacket, were shown in the magazine. This sketchbook page (ca. 1970) shows the ideal wardrobe according to agnès b.

the origins / the parisian

 

“The rough offset by the sweet.”

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Young Parisians are so elegant

“The rough offset by the sweet.”

Right from the beginning, agnès b. developed a style that was subtle, chic and casual all at once, which helped to turn the Parisian into a fashion icon, a “style, a state of mind”.

Resolutely Parisian allure with this double-breasted herringbone woollen coat photographed for Dépêche Mode in April 1977, or these two photographs by Steve Hiett for the June 1976 edition of Marie-Claire. With this brown cotton poplin kimono dress or this camel velvet pinstripe suit, agnès b. skillfully creates typically Parisian simple, elegant silhouettes.

 

the origins / casual chic

“Clothes, for me, are all about feeling in harmony with yourself to be able to think about something else. 

They are only a means. If I can help people to feel good, to feel attractive, so much the better, that’s what brings me pleasure.”

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“casual chic”

“Clothes, for me, are all about feeling in harmony with yourself to be able to think about something else.

They are only a means. If I can help people to feel good, to feel attractive, so much the better, that’s what brings me pleasure.”

A short blouson jacket, a smock, a sweatshirt in cotton flannel, a cotton shirt… so many items that are easy to wear and an essential part of the spirit of agnès b.

 

the origins / the first shop

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In 1973, agnès b. registered her brand name. The idea behind the name dates back to the sixties, when she was working for Elle magazine and one of her articles had to be signed.

“I wasn‘t prepared. […] I said: “Just put agnès b.”, as they do in news items, when they don’t use the full name. And then I devised the logo with my handwriting.”

The first boutique opened in 1975, in a former butcher’s shop at number 3, rue du jour, next to Les Halles in Paris.

the origins / 3, rue du jour

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… and everything began with Jean René

Photographs of the boutique at 3 rue du jour, Agnès and her husband Jean-René de Fleurieu, around 1976.

the origins / François Pain, documentary 1977

“I like clothes better than fashion.”

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“I like clothes better than fashion.”

At the agnès b. boutique you will find all the ingredients of an ideal wardrobe according to agnès b., including dungarees, petticoats and white blouses – the symbol of the feminine for the stylist – which she offers in a wide range of fabrics.

Press clippings (from 1975 and 1976) and documentary by François Pain in 1977.

 

les origines / rue du jour

“I prefer to say that I draw, I design clothes and lots of other things in relation to the spirit of the times, and I keep on changing them, constantly. "

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headquarters, rue du jour

“I prefer to say that I draw, I design clothes and lots of other things in relation to the spirit of the times, and I keep on changing them, constantly. I also believe clothes change of their own accord, independently of their designers.”

The agnès b. boutique is not just a place where people come to buy clothes.

It is a place where people meet, hang out, listen to music, talk about literature and where children can play on the swing, number 3 rue du jour is a concept store before its time. It is like agnès b.: focused on others.

“In fact, it’s the street that dictates fashion.” She insists on being called a “stylist” and not “creator”, which is “too grand” in her opinion.

 

the origins / first men shop

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Boutique agnès b. men, 2 rue du jour.

the origins / I love to dress men

I love to dress men ….

“I really enjoy doing it […] I give free rein to my imagination, as if I were meeting my heroes again, as if I were able to meet men from the 17th or 18th centuries or the last century.”

“My collections for men have a feminine aspect: the tweed vests are soft, the materials are light, the lines hug the form… For touch is very important.”

Since 1981, agnès b. also dresses men.

The three piece suit of the 1950s, the dandy look, New Wave elegance, photography from the 1940s to the 1960s are, for the stylist, the codes of her men’s fashion.

the origins / hundreds of stores

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In 1980, agnès b. opened her first boutique in New York, in the Soho district.

Here again, the choice of the place reveals a determination to be present in dynamic neighbourhoods that are cosmopolitan, open to other cultures.

4 years later, the stylist turns towards Japan.

Over the past thirty years, several hundred agnès b. boutiques have sprung up all over the world.

 

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