Chloe, wife of Parisian graffiti artist Monsieur André, in her store Madame André at 34, rue du Mont-Thabor.
It is purported, amongst most fashion circles, that Kate Moss was the initiator of the charm trend. I’m here to tell you most fashion circles would be wrong. It was La Coquette. La Coquette loves the charms. Dangling, oh so jauntily, from my bag at this moment, in fact, is the Murakami-designed Smiling Cherry keychain. (It came with the Louis Vuitton show invitations. When interning at a fashion magazine, you are paid in such things--in cherry keychains designed by Japanese artists and in BEATINGS. Right after that, they plant a canary yellow diamond where your soul should be). Sorry, where was I? Ah oui, charms. I also have some vintage French keychains that I procured from the Porte de Vanves fleamarket, and I covet the gremlin-y Prada “monster” charms.
I was thus interested to see, while flipping through French Elle on a recent train ride, some punky, cool little charms one can buy at a store called Madame André. The name “Madame André” sounded that alarm in my head that signals “It is now the eleventh time you have read about this store and you have yet to check it out--you are NOT in the know.” So I dutifully wrote in my notebook the words, “Madame André - charms,” and finding myself in the premier arrondissement Saturday, I decided it was high time to investigate.
Upon entering the tiny store on 34, rue du Mont-Thabor, I am greeted by a very pretty girl, who to tell you the truth, looks somewhat familiar.
Coquette: Hi! I heard you have these, like, charms I saw in Elle?
Pretty Girl: Oh yes, they’re designed by a graffiti artist named André.
Coquette: Mhhhmm, whatever, but how CA-UTE will they look on my bag?!
It is only as I start looking around the store that I realize we are talking about MONSIEUR ANDRE. One of Paris’s foremost graffiti artists. THE MONSIEUR ANDRE of “Love Graffiti” fame. André who is a huge star in Japan and parties with Sophia Coppola. But wait folks, the connection has yet to sink in. Wait. Wait. The name of the store is MADAME ANDRE? Attends.
Coquette: So, is there like, a relationship between André and the store?
Chloe: Yes, I’m the wife.
(In retrospect, she forgot to say she was “his wife and muse.” Every article I’ve since found about Chloe calls her “his wife and muse.” If I were someone’s muse, it is the first thing I would say to everyone I met. Note: This is probably why I will never be anyone’s muse).
So who is this Monsieur-Andre-of-“Love Graffiti”-fame? A fixture on the Parisian graffiti (graffeur) scene since adolescence, André was first recognized for his figure "Monsieur A"--a round head, a winking eye, a top hat--see photo below. (If you thought I could have walked out of there without my own “Monsieur A” charm, you are sorely mistaken).
“Love Graffiti” is a project he worked on from 1997-2003 in which he accepted commissions to spraypaint the name of one’s lover in their neighborhood. Can you imagine waking up and seeing YOUR NAME? Painted on a wall in big fat, colorful letters? Surrounded by hearts? Gentlemen, you ask me how cool does that rate on the Female Sliding Scale of Romantic Coolness? That is ALMOST as cool as John Cusack standing outside your window with a boombox a la "Say Anything." (And, P.S., there is NOTHING cooler than John-Cusack-with-boombox cool.)
As for la Madame André, just last night, I started reading December’s French Vogue, and I see Chloe in the back, in the L’Oeil pages, AND SHE’S ONLY CAPTIONED BY HER FIRST NAME! It’s like, here’s “Dennis Hopper,” here’s “Milla Jovovich,” and here’s “Chloe.” I would say this is cool, but If I say cool one more time here, somebody needs to put me out of my misery. So I will instead say, check out her store if you can. With vintage jewelry, Gilles Dufour clothes, and toys from Japan, it’s fittingly, um, awesome.