Can you remember the first time you ever bought a vintage item? Or how you cut out the names of vintage shops from Vogue hoping that one day you’d make it there? Lucie Goulet looks back at the beginnings of her vintage addiction in provincial France and reveals all the best vintage shops in Paris.

When I was a kid in my small provincial town in France, vintage meant heirlooms. It was the hats we found in my great-grandmother’s house after her death and her hand-sawn dresses. There was also the odd article in glossy magazines about the “new phenomenon” that was vintage, but to me vintage outfits were something you would find on the yearly flea market or in local second-hand shops. It was in no way the phenomenon it is now.

Until now, the French don’t do charity shops that much, with the notable exception of Emmaus, a network of communities which helps people to find their way back into society. There you can find everything, from an old Dior suit to ancient issues of Vogue. It was the ideal place for the vintage novices we were back then, since prices were – and still are – so low you can afford to make mistakes. It’s also an endless source of inspiration and material for DIY outfits. I especially remember a Liberty print jacket which somehow became a (very) short skirt.
When my sister and I went to Paris on our first “fashion trip”, we were armed with a stack of addresses torn out of Elle over many years of reading the magazine. I still remember our wide-eyed amazement: at last, we were talking proper vintage stores and not just charity shops.

In Paris, the obvious destination for any fashion and vintage lover, aside from the pricey Avenue Montaigne, is the quartier du Marais. Our first stop was Free ‘P’ Star (8 Rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris) the kind of shop where you will find that amazing vintage piece that makes an outfit. Luckily it was Saturday, which is the day they get new stock delivered. As in every vintage shop, part of the excitement is digging through garments. Vintage fever culminated in the £3 bargain bin where we found some amazing, label-less red tops.

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