Travel back to the dreamy world of vintage via a trip to CENTQUATRE (104), a cultural and artistic space tucked in the 19th arrondissement with a surprising history: the building, Villette’s slaughterhouse in 1873, was turned into the council’s funeral service (Service Municipal des Pompes Funèbres or SMPF) in 1905, where hearses (but not bodies!) and undertakers were housed. Named after its address of 104 rue d’Aubervilliers and reopened in 2008 as an artistic and creative center, CENTQUATRE’s sprawling 40,000 square meters is a great place to wander around in, and I was especially happy to stumble into the Wonder Vintage Market being held here for the weekend.
It’s easy to get swept up in the vintage vibe here. A pair of old blue cars are parked just outside the entrance, where ladies decked out in beautiful 1950s fashion take your tickets. From there, I found myself floating in 700 square meters of vintage heaven, where I scoured the stands of movie posters, furniture, clothes and accessories, bicycles, toy collectibles and old records for precious treasures.
The range of products was commendable; everything was of good quality, as if lovingly selected piece by piece, and the prices were fair. And why wouldn’t they be, with the curators of Wonder Vintage being die-hard vintage lovers themselves?
I caught a glimpse of Xavier Colombel and Héloà¯se Jacob, organizers and founders of Wonder Vintage, who were busy greeting guests and roaming the stands. Seeing them in person is like being confronted with veritable Retro Rock Stars. Colombel, an infographist and web developer and photographer, is a collector of clock-flip radios and old cars. Jacob, who works in publishing and communications, dresses in vintage every day from her accumulated 10-year collection. They wanted to launch a market that featured high-quality products in a fitting, vintage ambiance, reintroducing these beautiful objects to the public. Their belief in the culture of vintage, its beauty and its soul, has made Wonder Vintage a rousing success.
Aside from the lovely curios, the market has dressing stalls set up so you can try on the lovely, unique clothes for sale. There is also a photo studio, set up as a ’50s kitchen. The sellers are lovely as well, and everyone I spoke to took the time to explain their products’ history with passion in their voices and a sparkle in their eye – true vintage collectors and lovers.
It’s a perfect step back to the days when film was developed and phones worked by turning a dial. I left with a toy collectible robot and a plan to return the next day to score a vintage Peugeot bicycle – if, of course, someone hadn’t beaten me to it yet. This being the second World Vintage Market organized by the duo, here’s hoping for another event in the near future, because we definitely need more vintage in our lives.
See our previous articles on events at Centquatre, including Leandro Ehrlich’s Batiment, a mirrored building faà§ade that had people hanging off the ledge in Paris, and Omnivore’s food events in the space.