exploring new visions of urban paris with satirical clothing brand paris nord
‘Paris Nord’ literally translates to ‘north of Paris’, an area that encapsulates both the Sacré Cœur and the red light district. It is also home to creative duo and couple Mario and Nastassja Guay, a graphic designer and PR who launched a label of the...
Photography Julien Babigeon
Paris Nord's first collection, 'Fuckin' Tourists' featured t-shirts bearing an image of the Moulin Rouge and the slogan 'Amsterdam' for example - looking to deconstruct the city's omnipresent tourist industry. Today, the proudly urban is rapidly becoming a symbol for a new, anti-Amélie Parisian-ness. Time to step off the Tour Eiffel.
How did the project come about?
There is a generation of Parisians sick of hearing about Jean-Paul Sartre and the Louvre. The city's posh Left Bank dictates a vision of beauty that is synonymous to bourgeois values, Hausmannian architecture and Art Nouveau typography. It cultivates a sense of nostalgia and the idea that the best is behind us. This isn't our Paris. If you go up North, you'll find a rougher, younger and more modern definition of the city. We wanted to celebrate a form of beauty that isn't often recognised - not as rich, intellectual or polished, but much more poetic.
So this is an anti Saint-Germain statement?
Precisely, we describe ourselves as Anti Rive Gauche, Anti Left Bank. The Paris we live in is both historical and deeply multicultural. It possesses a unique sense of modernity - a juxtaposition of old boulangeries and markets filled with exotic fruits, local tailors and kebab shops.
You started by critiquing the tourism industry, correct?
Yes, we started with a series of spoof t-shirts that bore, for example, an image of the Moulin Rouge but labeled 'Taj Mahal'. Tourists populate the city all year round and that has led to a hysterical production and consumption of goods. Those act as a proof - almost like a tangible Instagram - of having been here, but are totally disconnected from any profound interest in the city. Half the tourists you meet think Picasso painted the Mona Lisa.
You recently shot a photographic series that featured a surfboard all over Paris Nord?
Yes, this was for a collaboration with sunglasses brand Waiting for the Sun; the glasses are delivered in a kebab box filled with flyers. The shoot illustrates the project - we asked people all over our neighborhood to pose with a surfboard. This was like reverse exoticism - suddenly the fantasy isn't Paris but the surfboard and its distant promise of sun and beaches.
Text Alice Pfeiffer