One of my must-see places to visit when in Paris is Reine, a well-known, high end fabric store in Montmartre.
Your first exposure to Reine may have been on ‘Project Runway‘, season three. It is where the designers bought their fabric for the Paris evening gown ‘haute couture’ assignment.
It’s no wonder ‘Project Runway’ chose Reine as the source for this elegant challenge. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon among its four floors of beautiful bridal and dress fabrics, couture buttons, and even luxury home decor materials and trimmings. In fact, this entire neighborhood is a sewing diva’s dream, with many stores offering exquisite remnants, or coupons, at bargain prices.
If you go, you should know…
First, some basic information. Several streets at the foot of Montmartre are almost exclusively devoted to fabric vendors.
If the sign reads ‘Vent en gros’ these are wholesalers and won’t sell retail. Many will state ‘Vente au détail’ which means retail customers are welcomed. Fabrics made in France should be labeled as such; if you aren’t sure, ask the staff. Don’t forget that fabric is sold by the meter, or slightly over 39 inches. Specialty fabrics may be narrower than fabrics in the USA, for instance, so be sure to check the width when calculating your fabric needs.
It’s no wonder ‘Project Runway’ chose Reine as the source for this elegant challenge. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon among its four floors of beautiful bridal and dress fabrics, couture buttons, and even luxury home decor materials and trimmings.
Finally, many stores sell coupons, or remnants, usually cut in three-meter lengths. These can be real steals, so don’t hesitate to check them out.
Reine, floor by floor
Let’s take a quick tour, floor by floor…
On the ground floor, or rez-de-chaussée, you’ll find dress fabrics, and colorful bolts lined up by cottons, blends, and silks. You’ll see mannequins display sample creations, while a special counter and staff cater to brides with fabulous white satins, chiffons and silks. As for cottons, you’ll see more Liberty prints than you’ll see in London.
Prices are fair; many of the materials are manufactured in France. With friendly staff eager to help (some may speak a little English) why not bring home a length of fabric as a special present for someone who sews, or for a budding designer in your family?
Up a flight, you’ll find French notions and trimmings in brilliant colors, patterns, buttons, threads, even yarn and knitting and crochet implements – everything for needle arts at home.
If you sew, make a list of what you need before you go. It may save some time, but if you are like me, you’ll keep looking anyway, putting patterns, fabric and button combinations together in your head as you marvel at everything around you.
Second and third floors
The second and third floors are devoted to home decor fabrics and trimmings. Are you looking for a toile? If you don’t find it here (or next door at Marché St. Pierre, the ‘Fabric Kingdom, often imitated, but never equalled’), it may not exist.
Be a Material Girl
Don’t forget, fabric folds flat and doesn’t break, even if your luggage gets manhandled on the way home. I’ve bought traditional French lace curtain and tier panels for my sunroom, and tapestry panels for cushions and throws.
Even if you can’t sew, bring back a meter or two of something you’ve fallen in love with. With some hemming tape and an iron, you can make a unique valance or cushion cover with minimal work. Every time you look at your creation, you’ll think of Paris. What could be better?
5 Place Saint-Pierre, 75018
Have you been to Reine? Do you have any other favorite fabric stores in Paris? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Colourful cloth, by Mark Fischer, via Flickr.
3. Mini-mannequin Tissus Reine, by Zemlinki, via Flickr.
All other images © Louise Denegre.