Emmanuel Delbouis has not forgotten that day in October 2016 when he tried to play matchmaker. The brand strategy consultant of the Ministry of Culture had organized, Rue de Valois, a meeting between Uniqlo, the Japanese giant of basic and inexpensive clothing, and about sixty emissaries from major French cultural establishments, including the Opéra de Paris, the Louvre and the Rodin Museum.

To each, this lawyer by training had recommended to bring a gift as a sign of welcome, the planetary brand having itself delivered to its guests gift bags filled with fashion accessories. With avowed hope: that this meeting leads to agreements as resounding – and lucrative – as those forged between the clothing giant and MoMA in New York. Alas, the mayonnaise is hard to take: museums are reluctant to think in terms of product.

Fixed fee

“Certain establishments feared to devalue their image”, remembers Emmanuel Delbouis. Not the Louvre, which, a few years later, took up the thread of discussions to launch a four-year collaboration with Uniqlo in early February. “We have been waiting for this partnership for so long”, says John C. Jay, Creative Director of Fast Retailing (the Uniqlo group), very happy to associate the most famous museum in the world with the Japanese brand’s motto – “made for all” -, its universal silhouette and its more than 2,200 stores in some 20 countries.

For a fixed fee, the Japanese label will decline T-shirts and sweatshirts with the effigy of emblematic works of the museum, the sacrosanct Mona Lisa, of course, as well as The Winged Victory of Samothrace, retwisted by graphic designer Peter Saville, the English dandy known for his Joy Division and New Order album covers. A way for the Louvre, of which nearly one in two visitors is under 30, to consolidate a coolness acquired since the planetary success in 2018 of the clip ofApeshit of the Beyonce – Jay-Z couple, shot at night at the museum, which has garnered 234 million views on YouTube.

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At the same time when the Louvre is attacking the locker room of teens and young adults, it is also colonizing the decor of their parents. On February 18, the Parisian museum is launching thirteen ranges of objects – and 45 references – inspired by the Tuileries garden and designed by Maison Sarah Lavoine. The scale is quite different this time: the art of living brand founded by decorator Sarah Poniatowski is, by her own admission, “A small French brand which is slowly growing”. The spirit is also poles apart, classic and cozy, with these velvet cushions inspired by the small sailboats of the large Tuileries basin, jacquard plaids or ceramic candlesticks.

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