I don’t really have much business being at Paris Fashion week– you’re far more likely to find me at the café with my pichet of wine. And anyway, there’s too much noise surrounding it all to allow someone like me to find stories behind the clothes. But paying no mind to the chaos, a small and independent Parisian fashion studio tucked away on the Left Bank, quiet as a mouse, except for the soothing hum of an old sewing machine, is the most charming untold story of Paris Fashion Week…
I’ve been meaning to tell you about Bourgine for a while now, but recently, this little French fashion label did something so enjoyable that I could no longer procrastinate on it.
Okay, so you might recall that earlier this month, we went to visit one of the last makers of the Parisian café chair; the colourful iconic woven furniture synonymous with the French bistro culture. You can imagine the squeals of delight at the MessyNessyChic HQ when our world collided with Bourgine’s enchanting new collection of bistro-inspired clothing.
In congratulating the talented and whimsical mind behind the brand, I took the opportunity to ask Caroline Bourgine a few questions about how it all came about…
“The idea to translate the iconic patterns of Parisian café chairs into clothing, was born on an Autumn night in 2015 at a café across from the Luxembourg gardens called Le Rostand,” Caroline tells me. “I’ve had a little thing for these chairs for a long time, photographing all the patterns around Paris that caught my eye.”
Miss Bourgine began drawing a few designs, but then life, running her own boutique and meeting boys got in the way, and her bistro sweaters found their way to the bottom of her priorities list. (Caroline’s official disclaimer for her made-in-France brand is “Bourgine est patriote et paresseuse“– Bourgine is patriotic and lazy).
Nearly three years later (approximately 12 seasons later in fashion years), her idea has finally hit the shelves of her beautiful Rive Gauche boutique hidden in the backstreets of Saint Germain.
With the help of a friend of a friend, Lucie Forest, “tamer of Germanic-futurist sewing machines”, and the archives of the old bistro chair ateliers, Caroline suspects she’ll be creating capsule collections inspired by the Parisian café chair for years to come. In the meantime, she’s currently working on her next collection inspired by 1980s musicals, which sounds all kinds of magical.
One last and most important question for Caroline– what’s her favourite Parisian café of course?
“I don’t know if I have a favourite, but I love Le Balto, next to my boutique. It seems like it hasn’t changed since the 60s, emphasized by the loyal, quirky customers of the quartier who’ve been going there for years.”
If you really want Parisian fashion– the kind that’s thoughtfully picked out by effortless Parisian girls from their secret backstreet boutiques near the Seine– you should discover Bourgine. It’s not just a fashion brand. It’s in a whimsical world of its own where stories become wearable– especially stories by MessyNessyChic.