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Living in the US where only 5 ultra chic agnes b. boutique locations (there are 3 in NY) exist, I had no idea of the breadth of interests and variety of products which fall under the brand name of notoriously reclusive French fashion designer Agnés B. Originally named Agnés Trouble, she later become Agnés Bourgois when she married the now deceased publisher Christian Bourgois.
Above: the rarely photographed french designer herself
With a bit more knowledge of her, the surname Trouble seems the ultimate in irony. The woman appears to be anything but. Okay, there was the lawsuit she brought against The Wet Seal in 2001 for copyright infringement, which she won. But hey... nobody's perfect.
above photo source: artwebtelly.com
I knew little of her. Simply as the designer and name behind the socially responsible, uber hip, expensive clothing line with the tasty lowercase label, "agnes b." By the way, for you non-fashionistas, that's pronounced 'on-yes bay', not 'aggness bee'.
It wasn't until I did a little research that I realized how vast and varied her company and success are. Her enormous support of the arts, and her equally large disdain for advertising, both came as a surprise. The woman is talented, charitable and undoubtedly very, very busy.
Describing herself as a product of the May 1968 student and worker's revolts in France, she said: "I still believe in that May '68 slogan 'Advertising is stupid and it makes you stupid'".
But, she does publicize her efforts to better the planet. See below:
She opened her first store in the early seventies in Paris. She was reportedly a young rebellious and socially-aware campaigner who brought that very spirit to her fashion brand. The company does NO traditional paid advertising. And yet she has 198 boutiques world-wide and 1 Paris atelier.
She is the sole designer for her collections for women, men, children, sport b., and Voyage (travel bags and purses). She has a full line of shoes, accessories, sunglasses, logo t-shirts, suits, sweaters and more for men, women, children and infants.
as well as a cosmetics line:
As if that weren't impressive enough, she's a movie producer and has produced several films and documentaries under her production company, Lovestreams Productions,
A huge supporter of the arts, film and music, she's also a photographer. The photos below of graffiti artist Craig Costello (aka KR) Krink ink work were taken by Agnés and used in her store displays and featured in their Lookbook.
She also publishes a modern art magazine named Point D'ironie:
Around 6 times per year, agnès b.and Hans-Ulrich Obrist give carte blanche to an artist to appropriate the space of the paper. An 8-page tabloid format, identical for each artist. 100,000 to 300,000 copies are available free of charge around the world (in bookshops, museums, galleries, schools, cafés, etc.), as well as in all of the agnès b. locations (France, Europe, USA, Asia). Learn more here.
She's an art gallery and bookshop owner:
see the Galerie Du Jour here.
Creates and sells fancy chocolates and truffles:
see the chocolates here.
Has a floral and florist company that designs breathtaking flower arrangements as well as floral decor for weddings:
Visit the floral site here.
She operates a chain of restaurant and cafés named Le Pain Grille to share her love of french food, with three locations in the UK alone and several other in her stores worldwide:
They also do private banquets and even sell branded tableware on their site and in their cafes, some of which is shown below:
Buy the tableware here.
above photo courtesy of PARIS (AFP)
In addition to belonging to several humanitarian organizations, sponsoring musicians and artists, she is also a major partner and sponsor for Tara Expeditions. An organization of scientists and sailors who travel via sailboat (named the "tara") to study the effects of global warming on pack ice, more specifically climate variations and impact in Arctic waters, ice and environment.
Learn more about Tara Expeditions and their latest documentary here.
The above beautiful silver gelatin print of elusive agnés b., taken in 2006 by photographer Steve Pyke, is available for purchase from the Flowers east gallery in London here.
Read a 2006 interview with the designer from the UK's Observer here.
agn�és b. remains a family-owned company that has continued to grow and employs over 1,450 people world-wide.
Now, how is it possible I just thought it was a fancy clothing label?