Garance Doré launches her stationary line in New York

Upon walking into Garance Doré’s Open Studio, a pop-up shop at 168 Bowery, your first impression is—to steal a phrase from the great French painter Henri Matisse—of luxe, calme et volupté. White walls, flowers, faux fur throws and couches set a tone of ease and comfort, creating an environment where you’d want to spend an afternoon drinking Jack’s Coffee, which is on tap, and chatting with a friend. Better yet, it’s the perfect place to spend an hour or two writing to someone you love on the stationery that covers the walls and the long glass table in the center of the room.

The two-day Open Studio marks the New York launch of Doré’s stationery line with Rifle, a Florida-based company run by husband and wife team Anna and Nathan Bond. It’s an event celebrating creativity, communication, and community, with a full-roster of activities, including a talk with Doré and Anna Bond, an artist in her own right and the person responsible for Rifle’s illustrations; temporary tattoo and letter writing stations; a live calligraphy class with Paris-based calligrapher Nicholas Ouchenir; and a second talk on Saturday afternoon with Doré and Lola Rykiel, the PR director of Sonia Rykiel. For those of you not in New York this weekend, both discussions will be live-streamed on Google+.

Why choose to do an Open Studio as opposed to the more traditional evening party with press and friends? “It didn’t feel right to me,” Doré says. “I wanted to open the doors, I wanted to do something where everybody was able to come, I wanted to be there. I wanted to meet the people who are reading me, welcome them, say hello. For me it’s a dream to be there and enjoy the company of people who read me.”

The collection is simple, elegant and inviting—Doré’s trademark style. “I see it as something to hold—it’s a different way to communicate,” she says. “Illustrations are wonderful, but I want to make them live.” And that’s exactly the sense you have when you interact with the line. The products, which include note pads and note cards and a wonderful array of iPhone cases, draw you in, much like Doré herself, who is charming on her blog but equally warm and inviting in person. Take, for a example, a card bearing the legend, “Life is so boring without you,” above a drawing of a woman with a top-knot, a red lip, and the chicest of black-and-white striped T-shirts. You’ve been that woman and you know that woman, because she’s across the table from you sipping a glass of champagne. And if she’s not, you want to send her the card to let her know you’re thinking about her. Establishing dialogue is the name of the game, which makes perfect sense, given that one of the most distinctive aspects of Doré’s world is her ability to spark discussion among her readers and encourage them to talk about what they love and what matters to them.

Doré had the idea of doing stationery “since day zero,” but chose to wait until the right opportunity presented itself. She knows what she does well—in this particular case illustration and text—and points out, “It’s very important to have someone with an exterior vision who can see the collection and be able to make it beautiful on paper. It’s like a music producer. You come with an idea, and they make it happen. That’s why I called Rifle.” She wanted to make something tactile, something that had physical relevance in the real world. “The Internet is wonderful because you post something and in an instant it’s in Japan, it’s anywhere…but you can’t touch it,” Doré explains. “It’s totally different when you have beautiful paper and you can send it to someone. The idea was to make something sensual.”

When asked about the most satisfying part of bringing to life a long-held dream, Doré pauses for a moment, then says, “People were telling me for a long time, you’re a brand, you’re a brand. Now that I see a real collection, and I see a name on the products, I’m like, okay, there is a brand. I think when you’re at the stage when you’re able to show what you’ve been doing, you think about the teamwork. That’s the most rewarding thing. You think about how everybody contributed to making it happen. Yesterday I was toasting everybody, and I was almost crying, because where I come from, this is not normal, everything is extra. Each time, I’m just figuring it out.”

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