Sunday, January 6, 2013

My agnes b.

An iconic agnes b. label

Rummaging through my closet last week, searching for a favorite gray ribbed turtleneck, I spotted the unmistakable "agnes b." label and was immediately transported to a chilly April day in Paris, with its winding streets and elegant storefronts. It was here in 1981, on the Rue du Jour in the first arrondissement, that I stumbled upon a tiny boutique called agnes b. Entering the shop, I discovered  casual French styles ranging from whimsical to eccentric. It was love at first sight— I walked out with fawn-colored leather ankle-wrap sandals and a simple white tee shirt. I wore both items until they were in tatters, and always wished I had bought more.

Original Paris store, established in 1975
Back home in the States I found out agnes b. was born Agnes Troublée in 1941 in Versaille and spent carefree summers at her grandfather's estate in Antibes. She attended the École des Beaux-Arts and was active in the violent Paris riots of 1968 where she developed a political conscience. She married and had twins at 19 and separated at 20. Because she had little money she shopped regularly at Paris flea markets and developed a personal style so unique that she was spotted by a staffer from Elle Magazine  and offered a job as editor. But she preferred designing to editing and soon created her own collecion of simple yet chic women's clothing and opened a store in a former butcher shop in Les Halles. Word of mouth spread and Parisians visited her shop to buy her signature pieces like cardigans with button snaps, striped shirts made from the same sturdy cotton used by rugby teams and leather jackets inspired by a Manet portrait. Many of these pieces are still in her collections.
Agnes as a young woman developing her own personal style

Gradually success allowed her to open her first international store in New York in 1983. She developed "Homme", her men's line and then opened stores in London and Tokyo ( Japanese women adore her clothes).

San Francisco store at 33 Grant Ave---closed in 2009

At some point I discovered the San Francisco store on Grant Ave, near my hairdresser at the time.
I passed it going back to Bart and made a habit of stopping in every time I got my hair cut. Often I would find pieces that struck my fancy, and every time that I stepped into the dressing room with the marvelous Jean Luc Godard poster-collage plastering the wall,  I was  transported again to my nostalgic world of Paris in the early sixties, inhabited by characters like Brigitte Bardot, Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. I thought the poster was one-of-a-kind but I recently  found out from my sister that you can buy it on agnes b's  website.  agnes b. website featuring the Godard poster.

Collage of Jean Luc Godard films—my favorite dressing room decor

Through the years, I managed to accumulate many beloved articles of clothing at this store, and in the arty spirit of the Sixties, I photographed my favorites in the bathroom mirror (images are reversed).

self portrait with white slacks, pink cardigan, blue pullover (very French)

                 Chartreuse corduroy pants, gray ribbed turtleneck, black cardigan, black leather jacket

striped dress, green blouse, shopping bag with lizard logo

black boat-neck "Fin" shirt with pink turtleneck below
Agnes is a champion of the arts; she collaborates with film makers and rock bands, has her own film production company and an art gallery in Paris and Brooklyn,  Galerie du Jour agnes b.,  and she shows up at international events like the Cannes Film Festival. She has recently opened the flagship store in Hong Kong, modeled after her childhood vacation home in Antibes, and she has  many other Asian ventures.

Agnes at 58th Cannes Film Festival wearing her signature lizard pin

Poster in her Galerie du Jour in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Even though Agnes caters to  rock stars and celebrities like Yoko Ono and Peter Gabriel, I feel tremendous admiration for her because of her free-spirited '60's idealism. Her company demonstrates so many rare and wonderful qualities. For example:  the company does not advertise, because she considers advertising to be immoral. Her clothes are all made in France to avoid using exploited labor, and each shop from New York to London to Tokyo and Hong Kong has a basket of free condoms on the counter. She's sensitive to the fate of the planet as well, and helps subsidize an organization called the Tara Expedition which has been organizing missions aboard the research schooner Tara for the past nine years and whose goal is to learn more about the impact of climate change on ecosystems.The Tara Expedition

Since she closed her store in San Francisco, I'm looking forward someday to revisiting the shop in Paris on the Rue Du Jour, where it  all began. Bon Voyage!


  1. Your fashion photos are tres chics! Where'd you find the shapely model?

  2. What a fun post! Can't wait to return to Paree and check out her little shop!

  3. Such cute outfits. I've always admired your fashion sense.