May 15th, 2018, 01:52 PM

Amélie & Adèle: So Alike, Yet So Different

By Anabel Bachour
Image Credit: Google Maps
Shop owner Najma Benadel discusses her two stores in the 7th arrondissement.

“The shop’s idea basically came from the love of color”.

Whether you are a regular AUP student, or just a passerby on Rue de Grenelle and Rue Amélie, you have probably noticed the blue store located on the corner between the two streets. This women’s clothing shop was born on the idea of the love for color. The owner, Najma Benadel, a Moroccan law student, has a passion for color and an eye for fashion. She told me all about the history of the shop, and why she opened it and its sister-shop Adèle.

The store has always been known for its blue façade, even before Najma bought it and decided to remodel it. Originally, Amélie was a children’s toys store, known as La Boutique Blue, and it was a beloved store of the 7th. After 100 years of its existence in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, its owner passed away, and the shop was due to close for approximately 2 years. From there, it took Najma 6 months to plan her project, and an extra two months to finally finalize it.

Image Credit: Anabel Bachour

“For 2 years, this site was closed, and I would pass by it every day and say to myself ‘What a beautiful store, we should do something about it’ and so the idea of a multi-brand women’s shop was born.” Even though Najma’s studies had nothing to do with fashion, she still counted on her instinct when planning and opening the store. Ever since she was a little girl, she loved everything that was associated with colors, she loved prints, and of course, textiles. She explained to me how much she likes going out to discover different collections and brands so that she can add them to her stores. The way she chooses her products does not depend on a thorough analysis of the fabric/color/material/cut etc., it depends on her coup du cœur [rough translation: heart crush], which means if she passes by a piece and can not stop thinking about how beautiful it was, she will add it to her collection. She says, if she ever doubted whether she should buy something, she would not add it at all. “It's really just that I pass once in front of the article if I stop and I start asking myself questions, I do not take it. I only take the ‘love at first sight’ pieces.”

When passing by Amélie & Adèle, one is likely to think that the theme of the store might be catered towards vintage clothing. When I asked Najma about this aesthetic, she said that she doesn’t necessarily look for vintage clothing, but that she cares more about quality, spirit, and color. In fact, she said that in Amélie, you will not find a single piece in the color black. Black garments are in not allowed in her stores, she describes her style as more like casual chic that you can wear in 2 different ways. Either very chic – very elegant look, or very everyday relaxed look. “I don’t like the concept à la mode [fashionably/trendy] I find it to be a very subjective concept. So, I don’t want to be attracted by the cult of fashion, I choose because I love it because I think it's beautiful, because it's comfortable, because it's good quality, and not necessarily because it's fashionable, I do not like this ‘Fashionable’ dictate.”

Image Credit: Anabel Bachour​​​​​​​

Amélie was opened in 2016 and a year after its opening, it was followed by Adèle on rue Saint Dominique. As of now, Najma does not have a webshop to represent her stores’ stock. Najma says that the online version of the store is a work in progress, but for now, she is keeping the authenticity of shopping alive. She says that when you shop at Amélie or Adèle, you are not only shopping for the product, you are getting some advice along with it, and this sort of thing cannot be achieved online. “We don’t work by the self-service system in our shops. It is really about advice, what colors go together, and what colors go with a person’s shade. Besides, we are multibrand, it's like doing several shopping in one place.”

When asked about the materials she prefers to have in her stores, she emphasized the importance of having everything as natural as possible in her stores, preferring textiles like leather, silk, cotton, and wool. She tries to avoid synthetic fabrics as much as possible. Her products mainly come from Europe – Belgium, Italy, and of course France. During our interview, Najma was fully dressed from her pieces she stocks in her store– as she is always. She concluded the interview by saying that she started Amélie and Adèle in hopes of always having a joyful spirit when you come into the store. Surrounded by colors, she describes it as “I think if you look in the neighborhood, you wouldn’t find a shop that resembles Amélie. Amélie has its own identity. In Amélie, it is always summer.”

Amélie and Adèle are two different flowers, picked from the same garden. They are like siblings who are very similar, yet very unique. You can follow the stores on Instagram, and Facebook, where their owner posts about her products. And of course, you can always pass by the store whenever you have a break. Najma concluded the interview by saying that a number of her costumes are from AUP, and that one day she would want to collaborate with the university.

Image Credit: Facebook/ amelie75007

“We have a lot of clients from The American University of Paris and not long ago an American who left Paris posted about our shop and I found that very touching. We are thinking of doing some sort of collaboration with The American University of Paris, it is still an idea, but we would like it to become reality like a discount code, or pass VIP for students and we would love to dress the American University’s students because it’s always joyful, fresh. And they have this fun spirit. The American spirit.”