For those passionate about collecting luxury vintage clothing and accessories, Les Trois Marches de Catherine B is a boutique that cannot be missed. Nestled between the Boulevard Saint-Germain and Place Saint-Suplice, it specialises in Hermès and Chanel accessories.
Displaying approximately 1500 pieces, each lovingly selected by the boutique’s owner, Catherine B, it is one of the oldest boutiques in Paris. The collection is second-to-none for those looking to find unique luxury items, limited editions and maybe even the .
Regarded as an expert of the two featured brands, Catherine is often sought out by fashion publications and is trusted to organise exhibitions of rare Hermès accessories.
We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her to find out more about her passion for high-end vintage goods and her career as the go-to person in vintage high fashion.
Vintage fashion: timeless and flawless
Catherine has always had a passion for vintage fashion, and sought out beautiful pieces as a young girl. However, certain pieces stood out for her more than others.
She has always been especially attracted to Hermès and Chanel. It is no surprise then that her famous boutique is dedicated solely to these brands. To her, these two fashion houses hold an appeal which she still struggles to put into words. “Their timelessness, associated with a certain modernity, is very appealing,” she tells us. “And the workmanship is flawless.”
Catherine’s credibility and knowledge are such that high profile blogs and brands in the fashion industry hold much respect for her and her boutique. This was no more apparent than when she was invited to hold an exhibition of her collection at Liberty in London. The centrepiece of the exhibition was the original Birkin bag made by Jean-Louis Dumas for Jane Birkin herself, a Hermès model that Catherine describes as “[having] been famous since 1984, it will still be here in 2024.”
Getting to know Catherine B: an exceptional collector
A collector of 20 years, when asked to describe herself in three words, Catherine chose “go-getter, extroverted and determined”. Indeed each is an important quality to have when your job is uncovering vintage treasures for your collection!
The vintage fashion expert believes that it is the selection of pieces on offer in her boutique that makes Les 3 Marches de Catherine B unique. “I only offer these two brands, so the pieces that you’ll find in my boutique are quite exceptional.”
She adds: “people come from all around the world because they know that they’ll find what they’re looking for if they’re after vintage Chanel or Hermès.”
“After all,” Catherine says in another interview, “these two maisons are one of the very few brands in the world that are totally ‘made in France’”.
Given this, it’s only natural that her boutique attracts a fair share of interesting clients. Catherine describes one particular incident: “[a] few months after opening my shop, I received a visit from a gentleman who seemed very interested in Hermès bags. I gave him a ‘lesson’ on the leatherwork and how to maintain them. It turned out that this gentleman was a very important person in the Hermès House, he was pretty much satisfied with my presentation and told me good luck with my business!”
A boutique for the women of Paris
Since opening in 1994 and now accompanied by a sister store next door, the boutique has certainly found its place among the women of Paris. Sophisticated and chic, they are the perfect clients for such a high-brow store, which offers fashionistas the chance to find a one-of-a-kind piece.
We asked Catherine where she thinks the cliché of effortlessly elegant French women comes from. She replied: “From literature, cinema, fashion, everywhere!” Is the cliché true? “Generally speaking, I would say yes, but no one can be perfect, chic and elegant every day of the year!”
Currently, Catherine’s favourite pieces in her personal collection are her silver Hermès Collier de Chien bracelet and her red Chanel 2.55 bag. Fashion isn’t her only interest however. “I have a keen interest in astrology,” she says. “Nothing to do with luxury vintage!”
Which are your favourite high-end vintage boutiques in Paris? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Come with us and be inspired:
Introduction // Quelques Femmes du Numerique // Kasia Dietz
Sandrine Benattar // Christina Montenegro // Maxime Chouraqui
Tom Clarke // Felipe Perez // Marie Van Haecke // Nicolas Piègay // Laura K Lawless
Lisa Vanden Bos // Chris Nielsen // Olivier Magny and Nicolas Paradis
Sarah Jeanne Ziegler // Lucie Knappek // Paul Arnephy // Caroline de Marchi
Les Trois Marches de Catherine B can be found at 1 rue Guisarde Paris 75006
All images © Hannah Duke