Sarah Andelman Reads the Moment

Interviews, Inspirations

If Sarah Andelman needs no introduction, her latest project adds a new chapter to her professional story arc. On February 24, Le Bon Marché unveiled Mise en Page, an exciting store-wide programme where the department store is celebrating the widening culture of books and our eternal love of reading. Andelman, as tapped into the zeitgeists as anyone, has overseen the artistic direction and curation; think merchandise from bookshops around the world; unique items from stationery brands and lifestyle brands; collaborations with fashion and beauty brands – and much, much more. There is also a café and retail space with long-time Colette artist Jean Julien, who has captured Andelman for the publicity as an idiosyncratic illustration, her head in a book. Andelman, who is also now in the business of editing books through her Just An Idea Books series, offers a glimpse of Mise en Page (which runs through April 21) while underscoring how fashion’s embrace of bibliophilia is more than a trend.

Books always had a strong presence at Colette. Then you launched your own series of books and now you are a curator of an ambitious project dedicated to the world of books. What is it about books that speaks to you so strongly?

They’re like the best friends ever! Always there when you need them, always inspiring, always reassuring that some things never change in this crazy world. A classic will always be a classic; and each time you read it, you’ll get it in a different way. I like the contact with paper, the fact someone picked a font for a reason, etc. 

Books aren’t ever in or out of fashion, but it does seem as though we are in a wave of bibliophilia. Why do you think so?

Absolutely! I am seeing books everywhere recently – and in association with some fashion brands. Again, I think the fact they remain the most authentic “accessory” can help to carry some messages for the brands who can show their support with something so timeless. Books give such value instantaneously! 

Similarly, people have always used books to project their tastes and interests. Now with social media, we see this in a more public-facing way (the new notion of ‘bookshelf wealth’ for instance). What are your thoughts? 

It can be strange to see people posting themselves reading on Instagram. But at the end of the day, what counts for me is that people actually read! The more books the better: on shelves, backstage or in the front-row of a show – just read! 

Tell us some ways that Mise en Page stands out beyond what people would ordinarily find at a bookstore or in other retail environments.

Mise en Page is a tribute to the world of books, without books! We bring together iconic bookshops, merch, publishers, exclusive collabs, beauty, jewellery, and even chocolates related to literary worlds. 

There will be Jean Julien’s Paper People with an amazing story from the windows to his space on the second floor. And “Just an Idea Books & Friends” on the first floor for more surprises. 

Why do you think more and more fashion brands are expanding into library spaces and bookstores? How does this contribute to the retail experience?

I’m so happy for Babylone by YSL, Rare Books with Alaïa, Courrèges with Dizonord; it’s just happening and that’s for the best. Like I said earlier, the more books the better. I also invite you to visit Pascal Monfort’s pop-up, Ephemera.

What differentiates a book that is purchased to read from one that is collected?

Both are inspiring! Books around you make you a better person. 

Can you recommend a book or two for people once Paris Fashion Week® is over?

Obviously for all the PFW® lovers, the Stylenotcom Fashion in 2023 is a must; otherwise if you want to escape, cry and laugh, a classic like Everything On It by Shel Silverstein. 

This interview has been lightly edited.