Sunlight streams into the Paris Bleu Boutique (321 Seventh St. SE, Second Floor), touching the rafters that break up the high ceiling before they dart down to the shelves along the walls, illuminating the sparkle on the jewelry and the sheen on the leather handbags that line the walls of the new, Parisian-sourced accessory and gift boutique.
Paris Bleu has the feel of a Parisian attic atelier. A Parisian urbanscape dominates one wall around which objects are arranged with curated care, interspersed with floral bouquets and small whimsical sculpture which act as both artistic touches and mounts for displaying pieces.
The shop has only been open for about three weeks, but owner Christine Arnold has already had to re-order many items selected for the Oct. 2 shop opening. Gone are most of the French-designed Italian leather hand bags she carefully selected in Paris. She and friend and associate Adele Sheehan are constantly restocking the artistically patterned wool gloves. Arnold has reordered both.
The shop stocks accessories such as the bags, gloves, scarves and jewelry as well as gifts appropriate for hosts such as candles, fine soaps and towels. Items are found in New York, San Francisco and Italy; but most of the pieces, like the proprietor, come from France.
Printed tea towels described by Arnold as ‘soft and easy,’ come from Lille; Sheehan said people have been buying them to wrap holiday bread. Wide, cloud-soft scarves printed with the works of impressionist painters turn customers into warm, walking masterpieces. Small, almond-eye earrings are trendy in France. “In Paris right now, it’s very big,” she said.
Arnold brings her knowledge of trends and tastes Parisian as well as her connections with the city’s designers and suppliers to the shop. In September she made a trip home to Paris, where she selected many of the carefully-curated items now on display, visiting suppliers located on the very same street where her own mother used to run a market. Arnold says she feels like she has come full circle. After years working in fashion retail in Europe and in the District, she has now opened her own shop.
She and Sheehan had been talking about opening a boutique together for some time, so when Sheehan learned over a glass of wine that the space above Groovy was becoming available they jumped at the chance. “It’s a blessing,” said Arnold, “I had been planning to go the day after Labor Day to Paris, and Adele learned the space was available the Saturday before.”
The two are designing women of refined tastes already known throughout the Hill for their work in other District shops.
Well-known for their beautiful wrapping, Arnold and Sheehan offer free gift-wrapping with purchase and plan to offer gift-wrapping services for any package for a nominal fee when wrapping is purchased downstairs at Groovy DC.
Prices range from $8 for a pear-shaped candle, gift wrapped in a small bag and tied with delicate ribbon and sprigs of flower, up to a few hundred dollars for an Italian leather handbag.
Arnold said that she plans to have an official grand opening, and men’s shopping nights in advance of Christmas, now less than sixty days away. She plans to take advantage of her French attic-boutique by hosting French Salons, bringing people together for intellectual discourse. Already, guests are welcome to join Arnold and Sheehan any evening after 5 p.m. to partake in a glass and a conversation.
The shop is located on the second floor of Groovy DC Cards and Gifts (321 Seventh Street SE) and is open Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed Mondays. Reach them by telephone at 202-644-6575 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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