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Vanessa Bruno On Opening Her New York Store and How to Dress Like a French Girl

Considering how wildly popular her bohemian-tinged, Parisian-pretty designs are across the pond, it's surprising that French designer Vanessa Bruno has yet to open a boutique in New York. Thankfully, that's about to change—Thursday evening marked the opening of Bruno's pop-up shop in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood, a lovely two-story space stocked with her label's signature flowy dresses, peasant tops and sequin-trimmed bags (an American flag-adorned one is a limited-edition exclusive to the space). The shop will remain open throughout Fashion Month, tempting NYFW-drained editors and brand fans with an assortment of wearables and edibles (in the form of French macarons, bien sûr).

When we sat down with Bruno earlier this week, she assured us that her downtown pop-up was only the beginning. Read on for our chat, in which the designer talks stateside expansion, making mini-movies and why the coolest French girls dress in uniform.

Lucky: Congrats on your new pop-up! Is it safe to assume you've got a permanent NYC boutique in the works, too?

Vanessa Bruno: I'm gonna be opening in the next year, yes. But I still need to check out different areas of the city, to decide whether it'll be uptown or downtown. We'll see...

In addition to your own Spring 2013 collection, this pop-up will house some very French special items. Can you tell me more about those?

I'm a French brand, and the idea was to make this pop-up a joyful space, something appealing to New Yorkers. So we decided to do a partnership with Ladurée, who makes the most delicious French cookies, and Diptyque, who makes these beautiful high-quality perfumes and candles. Then there are some more intellectual things—like we have a little library space with French DVDs and books, and we partnered with MK2, who does these really special films.

Who—or what—is your creative muse?

Definitely the idea of the French woman—this boho Parisian woman with a very French allure and aesthetic. For example, amongst the younger generation, it'd be a woman like Clémence Poésy. From a past generation, maybe Jane Birkin. Of course, Catherine Deneuve's been a great inspiration of mine for years.

Designers market their product in so many different ways today—print campaigns, city billboards, social media—but you've really stood out with your gorgeous videos starring people like Kate Bosworth and Lou Doillon. What draws you to video as a campaign medium?

I think it's a way to incarnate a brand, because it moves you! Suddenly the girl has a proper personality and emotions. It's a great way to bring magic into the brand through the girls, through the image. Videos just give the clothes a fantastic spirit.

Any plans to launch e-commerce sometime soon?

We're working on it! It's going to take a little bit of time, but definitely!

You show your collections at Paris Fashion Week now—but as you open more store locations in the US, would you ever consider doing a show here in New York?

Yeah, sure! I think that today, you have to be flexible. Of course I'm a French brand, but I'd love to do something here. Actually, the pop-up store is a great way to do something with my American customers. I think it's a great way to meet the clientele and become closer to them.

What are the primary differences between the way French and American girls dress?

The look in New York is very urban, but there's a split between the "working woman" kind of style and the more laid-back "city girl" look, which is very tomboyish. In Paris, the style's a bit more unified—girls more or less wear the same things.

What sort of pieces would you recommend for an American girl looking to dress like a Parisienne?

First of all, you have to consider your own figure, and look for key pieces that are body-specific. That's important. I'd look for a great-cut jacket, a great-cut pant, a great-cut dress...things that you know fit you. If you look at French women like Carine Roitfeld, for example, you'll notice she's always dressed the same way, more or less. It's a kind of uniform.

What are some of your favorite places to shop?

I'm not a big clothes shopper—but I love vintage stores, and New York has some great ones. I do like shopping for furniture, though...and jewelry! There's a shop in New York that I love called Ten Thousand Things.

Lastly, what's your go-to Fashion Week snack?

I'll do this the French way: some oysters and a glass of white wine!

Vanessa Bruno’s pop-up is located at 131 Greene Street and will be open from February 7 through February 26. Not in NYC? Click through to shop a few of our favorite Vanessa Bruno pieces available online now—as well as snapshots of the designer's new shop.

Photos courtesy of Vanessa Bruno.

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A look inside the pop-up.


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A look inside the pop-up.


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A look inside the pop-up.


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