Marie-France Cohen and her husband, Bernard, founded and ran the upscale children’s stores Bonpoint in Paris for 33 years; in 2003, they sold a majority stake in the chain and, earlier this year, they opened Merci, a concept shop (meaning you can buy flowers, books, clothes, Annick Goutal fragrances, vintage jewelry, or flea-market chairs — and have an espresso — under one roof) at the north edge of the Marais. Starting September 10, the Gap will open a Merci pop-up store in its space at 680 Fifth Avenue, with a selection of products from the mother store. Marie-France explained the project to Doria Santlofer by e-mail.
Can you explain the concept behind the Merci store in Paris? What are some specific items you sell there?
The idea was this: After selling Bonpoint and having enough money to have a good life well, what would be exciting and fulfilling, when you are 65, when you have experience, a network, energy, and dreams? Certainly not “checking how the stock is doing daily.” Merci is a happy project, a wonderful team, an amazing space, a refreshing and eclectic choice of products between luxury and simplicity. It’s never pretentious; there’s an always-artistic choice of flowers, books, fashion, scents, home decoration, vintage, design, gourmandises (the café, the restaurant). My husband, Bernard [Cohen], and I are totally unpaid. All the proceeds of Merci go to the charity we created to help, among others, the children from Madagascar, the poorest of the poor.
Can you tell me about the vintage pieces at Merci? What are the highlights and where do they come from originally?
We set the standards pretty high when it comes to vintage because we do not want to be “Goodwill.” We have a young, extremely sharp and talented stylist who knows the next thing that’s going to be in demand. She knows how to catch the spirit of the moment. There are a few donations, but we keep only the top of the top.
Why did you pick the Gap to collaborate with in NYC? What is the idea behind this project?
We [actually] did not pick the Gap. The Gap picked us! We were extremely flattered that the Gap chose us as a brand they admire, while giving us the exceptional opportunity to have exposure on Fifth Avenue. I think the Gap’s idea was to introduce Merci to the U.S., which is very generous.
You asked some artists to customize jeans and other items for the collaboration? How are they selected?
A French painter named Laurence-Amelie has been working on the jeans. Her website is Laurence-Amelie.com. Another artist named Soledad will be working on the trenches, and her website is Soledadbravi.com. The joy of my life is to move in a circle of talent. I love working with people I admire.
What are some of your favorite items that will be sold at the midtown concept store this September?
Everything that was chosen to go to New York is our favorite. We managed to make 15,000 square feet fit in 500 square feet; therefore, it only the best [of the best].
Is the eighties revival the same in Paris as in NYC right now?
Yes, the revival of the eighties is just the same in Paris as it is in New York.
What is your favorite Parisian flea market?
My favorite flea market is “Paul Bert” at Saint Ouen.
Merci Gap concept store will be open through October 5; 680 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 212-977-7023.
Most Viewed Stories
Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Megyn Kelly Roasts Trump’s Campaign Manager for Claiming He Doesn’t Make Sexist Comments
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Prince Married to Commoner Still Too Good to Tweet
Democratic Women Senators Are Very Concerned About Donald Trump’s Weight
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
Latest News from The CutNate Parker Addresses Rape Accusations in 60 Minutes Clip
He went on the record with Anderson Cooper.Paris Fashion Week’s Runways Are Still Overwhelmingly White
It’s been only three days but the numbers are bleak.Misty Copeland Did Her Own Makeup for This Ballet Book
She danced for photographer Gregg Delman's new book.Why Do All My Instagram Cats Keep Dying?
When real life encroaches on the virtual.Hunger Casts a Cruel, All-consuming Spell, Study Confirms
It’s stronger than thirst, fear, or social needs.Female Chess Players Are Furious About Having to Wear Hijabs at the World Championship in Iran
The world championship tournament is in Iran, where women are required to wear hijabs.Man in Tech Actually Admits He Was Wrong
Well, this is a first!The Other Kids in Jennifer Garner’s Daughter’s Class Have a Laptop, Why Can’t She?
Jen told Today she didn’t know tweens need computers.How Do You Follow a Great Designer?
Bouchra Jarrar’s first collection since taking over from Alber Elbaz at Lanvin.Alyssa Milano on Football, Spinning, and Why She Hates Eating Alone
The mom of two young kids says wellness is a balancing act.
Being a royal kid seems like a pretty sweet deal.The Male Model Who Has Appeared on More Romance Novel Covers Than Fabio
Jason Baca talks romance-novel cover modeling and eating a ton of chicken breasts.The Retro Stain Remover I Use on Everything
Don’t mind the smell — that’s how you know it’s working.My Toddler Is Having a Halloween Identity Crisis
She doesn’t want to be someone other than herself.New York Magazine’s ‘Sex Lives’: Can Masturbation Be a Radical Act?
This week’s podcast.Rob Kardashian Had a Childhood Crush on His Sister Kim Kardashian, and Now You Know About It Too
It’s 2016, everybody.We May Never Find Out What Happened Between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
The two have reportedly entered into “private negotiations.”Why Am I Always Tired?
Don't assume it's a health problem.How Yoga Turns You Superhuman or Just Less Freaked Out About Life
It trains the body, mind, and everything in between.10 Books We’re Reading Right Now
Read with us.