In Paris’ southeastern 13th arrondissement, the riverside strip next to the Gare d’Austerlitz train station used to be a quiet space next to a busy commuter hub. But thanks to Les Docks - Cité de la Mode et du Design, a fashion and design development that opened in April 2012, it is now one of the hippest places in Paris.
Les Docks is a four floor, 14,400sqm
cultural centre for fashion, design, culture and creation, with an eclectic
programme spanning day and night. The building itself, with a green snake-like
facade designed by successful Paris-based architects Jakob and Macfarlane, has
become one of the French capital’s most striking contemporary landmarks.
Seine-side building houses the Institut
Français de la Mode, France’s national fashion institute, and hosts
exhibitions for Paris’ fashion museum, Musée
Galliera which is closed for renovation until 2013. Currently on display are
two exhibitions: one displaying couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga’s archives that
he collected over the years and another on Japanese avant-garde design house
Comme des Garçons’ last catwalk collection (both running until 7 October 2012).
Faire, the team behind Paris’ hottest night clubs Social Club and Silencio, is
responsible for Wanderlust which
opened in Les Docks in June this year -- a multi-faceted concept featuring an
indoor nightclub, the largest outdoor terrace in Paris, an outdoor bar and a restaurant. Patrons can listen to electronic music
at night or partake in outdoor yoga sessions on the terrace in the daytime. It
is also home to an open-air cinema, a performance space, interactive workshops
for children and adults -- such as a hair workshop where you can learn how to create
the perfect topknot -- and events such as Brunch
Bazar, a trendy twist on a summer fete, for all ages.
the history of Les Docks hasn’t been without incident. Although the project was
meant to open in 2008, work did not start until 2007. The contemporary architecture
has proved divisive, described disdainfully as “a green thing” by detractors --
among them former president Nicolas Sarkozy -- and a “green Pompidou Centre” by
supporters. However, now that Les Docks is finally open, it looks set, at last, to
be a great success.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is
the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.