Deskside: Jennifer Cuvillier
Career

Deskside: Jennifer Cuvillier

Fashion Director, Le Bon Marché. Paris.


When it comes to grandiose retail therapy landmarks, Le Bon Marché, the mid 19th century glass-ceilinged Parisian shopping mecca, designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel), tops our list. We’re talking three floors of luxe boutiques, from the biggest fashion maisons (from the likes of CHANEL, Miu Miu, and Prada to name a few), curated installations from international designers to know, beauty counters and perfumeries lined with limited edition concoctions and (bare with us while we restrain our excitement) the Le Grande Epicerie, literal hall of epicurean delights.

Over the past two years, Le Bon Marché has undergone what Tyra Banks might call a makeover. Our favorite outcome? A brand-spanking-new shoe department, a.k.a. the extremely chic brainchild of fashion director Jennifer Cuvillier. Along with a team of designers, Cuvillier's job is to dream up over-the-top, never-done-before collaborations and cutting-edge installations that make swiping your card for those new Manolos that much easier. Here, the well-heeled (obviously) exec talks to us about being a part of Le Bon Marché 2.0, putting trust in new designers and following your instincts.

ON WHERE SHE GOT HER START…

“I have a business school degree and a Masters in Luxury Business and Art Studies. I then worked for eight years in a top international fashion buying office, Lambert and Associates. The Bon Marché recruited me from there. [It’s exciting to] have the challenge of working at the first department store of reference, especially since I started when the Bon Marché was starting its massive transformation. To become a part of Bon Marché 2.0 is all part of the adventure.”

 

ON HER FIRST DAYS AT LE BON MARCHÉ…

“A bit of restrained panic. Le Bon Marché is the LVMH institution, the chicest and first department store ever created — it’s the embassy of good taste in Paris. I have done the same job before but the history and reputation of this place was impressive. I think it is healthy to be questioning yourself at a new job and wonder if you are good enough. 
 
My first experience was to work on the BRASIL exhibition; to visit Brazil with the buying team and seize the Brazilian lifestyle, meet all the brands, the designers, and local artists. [We wanted] to select the finest Made in Brazil [items] in all categories, such a beauty, accessories, fashion, and food, and transport it to our Bon Marché clientele. Even the Brazilian clients that shop with us where impressed by our selection. That is the ultimate compliment… Abrigada!”

 

ON THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS OF LE BON MARCHÉ’S REVAMPED SHOE DEPARTMENT… 

"For the last 2 years the Bon Marché has been revamping and doing a massive restructure and reconstruction. My success, which I share with my team, is the new shoe floor — every woman’s dream closet! You secretly want to be locked in at night. But it came with a lot of challenges and negotiations with all the brands. It’s a very new way of shopping for shoes in the Parisian landscape. We built it from the customer’s point of view, not the brands’ or retailers’. It’s located on our Fashion Floor to create a synergy, an easy flow. All the brands are mixed [together]; luxury, new upcoming designers and capsule collections. It tells a story that’s arranged in a universe versus brand by brand.
 
And of course there was the GLITTER collection. For the launch, [we had to] contact every brand to create a special glitter shoe and coordinate with all our departments, including, of course, PR and visual merchandising, for in store and windows. It takes so much planning ahead!”

 

ON THE MOST SIGNIFICANT THING SHE HAS LEARNED ALONG THE WAY… 


“Don’t give up. Every problem will have a solution and follow your instinct – with an educated background. As I oversee fashion and design, so sometimes believing in a new brand and seeing them grow as a full business is so rewarding!”

 

ON HER DAY-TO-DAY…


“I’m non-stop. From 8am, I’m on email and by 9am I’m in the office for meetings.  I’m always meeting with designers, brands, and upcoming designers; researching new trends; meeting with the architect team to think and elaborate the new spaces, as well meeting with the buying teams from each department. And of course,  I’m on the sales floor to study the client buying patterns, talk the sales teams about a new capsule collection or a pop-up space like the Marni Flower Market we have a the moment. For one month, it’s magical.


I love Rose Bakery, so I try to have my lunch meeting there if any. If not, I go to the Grande Epicerie and pick something up. I usually finish at 7:30pm."

 

ON THE PROJECT SHE’S MOST EXCITED ABOUT…


“The Webster was great but looking at the future I am so excited about our NY Brooklyn Rive Gauche exhibit. It’s a very unique collaboration. We’re recreating a concept store from the other side of the Atlantic, with one vision and yet, so many participants. Brooklyn will arrive in Paris in every category; home, food, children wear, etc. Brooklyn is the hot spot in NY — it is truly a lifestyle, an attitude that encompasses everything and we are transporting it here. The Brooklyn vibe will come alive at the Bon Marche Rive Gauche.”

 

ON THE BIGGEST PERK OF THE JOB…

“To work in the epicenter of retail luxury, in the center of Paris is not bad. As well as working with highly creative minds and designers. But truly, on a basic level, to have access to the Grande Epicerie for last minute dinners — it’s just so efficient!!!!”

 

ON CREATING A PLATFORM FOR DESIGNERS…

"My job is to look everywhere all the time. I am an antenna capturing all moods, vibes, trends, so I can propose ideas for the store. I need to be in constant observation, it never stops — travel, food, streetwear, destination, and coloring books — the world becomes your runway. The designers we work with [are inspirational] – I just offer them a platform [to show their work]."

 

ON FINDING THAT PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN WORK AND LIFE…


“You must, that is key to staying healthy [and having a] creative and open mind. Don’t forget, this is France, we do value vacations a lot. [To rest my mind] I go to many exhibitions, museums, and galleries. But my savior is yoga! Youknow some time in the year you can’t keep it balanced, but it’s okay, accept it!"

 

ON THE BEST CAREER ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED…

“Be open minded and learn quickly.”

 

ON WHAT’S NEXT FOR HER AND LE BON MARCHÉ…

"The Brooklyn Rive Gauche Exhibit – I won’t be balancing [work and my personal life] much then."

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