Le Marais is a neighbourhood spread across parts of the 3rd the 4th arrondissements of central Paris on the Right Bank of the River Seine. Prior to the French Revolution, Le Marais served as the reserve of the aristocracy and the playground of the elite. Today, although the once-ubiquitous wig is an accessory of the past, this neighbourhood remains notorious as one of the most fashionable areas of Paris – which, if you have ever had the good fortune of having visited the City of Lights, you know is no mean feat. Comprised of cobblestone streets, flamboyant 17th century private mansions and a secret world of courtyards and gardens, Le Marais is home to up-market boutiques, chic and trendy bars, memorable eateries, up-and-coming galleries and an unlikely collection of museums. Most notably, the Musée Picasso and the Musée Victor Hugo call this slice of Paris home. Le Marais is also placed as one of the most diverse areas of the French metropolis, with a culturally rich mixture of residents congregating regularly at the Place des Vosges – the oldest of a plethora of urban squares – to perfect the time-honoured art of conversation. Simply stated, Le Marais is the place to be and the place to be seen in Paris. Its cool factor is well and truly off the rating scale.

Despite the fact that Melburnians are unable to fly to Paris for the time being, they may still connect with the energy and ethos of this particular trendy hot spot via a multi-brand clothing and accessory boutique located in the CBD. Aptly named, MARAIS houses a unique and meticulously curated selection of international luxury designers. Opened in 2004 inside the former Turkish Bath House, a part of the beautiful and heritage-listed Royal Arcade, the boutique’s interior was inspired by a Parisian apartment aesthetic, showcasing uninterrupted French walls and parquet flooring. This warm and inviting space welcomed Melburnians with open arms as they prepared themselves to officially rub shoulders with some of the most reputable and world-renowned fashion brands, including Givenchy, Balençiaga, Balmain, Céline, Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela, Lowe, Sacai and Rick Owens.

Marais, Melbourne

SHOP MARAIS

Marais, Melbourne

BROWSE MARAIS

Marais, Melbourne

VISIT MARAIS

A decade later, in 2014, due to MARAIS’ success and overwhelming acceptance by the local community, a 2-floor women’s boutique was required at the “Paris end” of Bourke Street, specifically at 73-77 Bourke Street. The new women’s mega-store was regarded as a very natural outgrowth and part of the continuum to the brand’s burgeoning empire. It took its interior inspiration from the ambience of a medieval castle which, at the time, could have been construed as a calculated risk. The space’s centrepiece is a 3,000-crystal chandelier, and a bespoke drawbridge-inspired hallway design transports clients from the fashion ordinary to the extraordinary as they traverse a guard of knightly mannequins announcing the latest seasonal arrivals. Add to this smoked-mirror ceilings and a translucent crystal floor for an added dose of otherworldliness. What may have begun as a calculated risk is now bearing fruit, as the MARAIS women’s boutique interior is inarguably classified as iconic.

Of course, since the 2014 debut of the upper Bourke Street store, the original store – housed at 335 Bourke Street – has catered exclusively to men. Interestingly, despite the men’s and women’s boutiques possessing distinctly different aesthetics, the focus and intention remain the same: to curate visionary seasonal collections from the best designers around the world. Furthermore, the multi-brand foundation of MARAIS has attracted exclusive partnerships, events and in-store pop-ups. For example, in 2005, MARAIS was the first to introduce Balençiaga’s and Lanvin’s men’s lines to Australia. Ultimately, the meticulously curated collections from a pool of nearly 30 high-end designers have enabled MARAIS to grow and position itself as its own brand, something very rarely seen in the Australian luxury retail environment. MARAIS is an immersive brand experience that saturates its customers with grandeur and glamour, quite possibly the same glamour which accompanies sipping a glass of vintage Krug out the front of Le Bistrot des Vosges on a sunny spring day.

Lifestyle & Design

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