octobre 22, 2010

In this shop called THE DUKE.

It was by walking down the main street of the Vernaison Market, as I do every Sunday, that I stumbled upon The Duke. A shop dedicated to a world that is very fashionable at the moment, Americana. Elie, the shopkeeper, always dressed in a hawaian shirt and his Submariner, is a unique man. While most experts remain silent and keep their secrets close to their chests, the « Duke », even if he doesn’t like to talk about his private life, doesn’t hold back in talking about clothes. A meeting with a generous man.

WITC: Let’s start at the beginning, you don’t start up a shop like The Duke from nowhere, can you tell us a little about how you got here ?

The Duke: Let’s just say that I grew up around fashion in general, from warehousemen to consultants…

WITC: Where does your interest for American clothing come from ?

The Duke: I’ve always had a passion for American films. As a kid my imaginary friends were called Steeve McQueen, Monty Cliff, James Stewart, John Wayne etc… I discovered Clignancourt’s flea markets and all their treasures when I was 12. The old denims worn by cowboys, the motorcycle jackets worn by Brando and his mates, the aviator jackets that instantly transported me to the command of a P51 or a B17. All I needed to feel good was to put on a pair of BigE’s, a white t-shirt and a D Pocket perfecto, and since then almost nothing has changed.

WITC: The Duke opened its doors less than two months ago, do you already have a particular clientel and if you don’t have one yet, what do you think it will be ?

The Duke: In this world of rarities, there is definitely a clientel of collectors who are looking for original items, just as in designer boutiques elsewhere. But above all, I think that what you find in my shop speaks simply to those who love beautiful things.

WITC: Can you briefly describe what kind of things we can find at your shop ?

The Duke: Everything to do with the US military from 1920 to 1960, complete outfits of second world war pilots, things with the look of « The Great Escape » but also items from the time of Korea and Vietnam. In a very different category, you can also find everything to do with the style of American University : College teddys, cardigans and bowling shirts with students’ names embroidered like those in American Graffiti and Rebel Without a Cause. Without forgetting American workwear, with overalls like those in the Cohen brothers’ film O’Brothers and denim pants and jackets reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath.

WITC: The items on sale at The Duke are very rare but one in particular really stands out in terms of history, rarity and condition. I ask you to tell me about this item every time I come here, can you tell me about it one last time ?

The Duke: Yes, in fact, the item in question is a Second World War Aviator jacket with a photo of the pilot in his cockpit returning from a mission, with his Ray-Bans and his pilot card in the pocket.

WITC: As a collector, have this item finishing up in a US museum is a consecration no ?

The Duke: No, honestly, I have other projects which are even crazier…

WITC: The first time that I came here, I told myself straight away that you must be a neurotic ebayer but it’s not true, the opposite is true in fact. Can you tell us what kind of steps you have taken to find everything and what advice you would give to young collectors ?

The Duke: In fact it’s mainly research, I document huge numbers of things, I travel around the world alot, which allows me to meet lots of people and make good contacts…So the best thing a young collector can do is to come and take a look around The Duke !!

WITC: How far can you go to prove the authenticity of certain pieces of clothing ?

The Duke: Eight times out of ten I can tell just by looking at them but if I have the slightest doubt I spend hours researching and documenting. I look at the item carefully, down to its smallest details : stiching, material and all the details that can put me on the right track.

WITC: How long have you been collecting and searching for items now ? Do you think that the American wardrobe still holds secrets for you ?

The Duke: I’ve been collecting for more than 25 years, and I hope that American clothing still has secrets and discoveries to show me !

Thanks to Elie from « The Duke » for giving me some of his time for this interview.

Marché Vernaison Stand 37-Allée A 93400 St Ouen.

5 commentaires:

  1. Where is the Cool? Clearly it is in France. I would love to visit this shop! Too bad Boston is so far away, still, great find, photos and interview. I've just started following, really like your posts.

  2. Thanks Meg. This shop is clearly incredible and there's not so much good things like this in France.. The "cool" is more and more in the "made in France" than in France in general I think..
    But Boston is a great city also, Bodega is one of the most incredible shop i've ever seen!

  3. bonjour j aimerais savoir si vous vendez le blouson de steeve mac queen dan la grande evasion ,merci de me repondre

  4. Bonjour,
    le mieux est d'aller voir en direct!