Eleven Paris: New enfant on the block

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French brand Eleven Paris has arrived in London's Carnaby Street – it's about time, says Stephanie Hirschmiller

While Paris has long been a leader in the high-fashion and haute couture stakes, the French invasion of the high-end section of the high street has been notable over the past few years, too, thanks to the likes of the The Kooples, Maje and Sandro. Now, the latest addition to the London shopping scene has further compounded the trend. But with 10 years of success and 14 boutiques in France under its studded belt and its first international store just opened in Carnaby Street, Eleven Paris is certainly no young up-and-comer.

“Carnaby Street is known the world over as the perfect street for shopping,” says co-founder Dan Cohen, of the brand's first venture over the Channel. “We love the energetic mood, with all the fashion events, special nights with magazines, and live music.” And intrepid shoppers will be greeted with the brand's signature minimalist store design – all whitewashed wood and bare bulbs, perfumed by a bespoke mix of leather and wood called “Velvet”. You won't catch an unscented Parisian, after all.

The brand has come a long way since its humble beginnings. It started life as a men's T-shirt line, with moustaches superimposed on the faces of celebrities – long before the 'tache became the ubiquitous whimsical motif du jour – and the tagline “Life's a Joke”. However, rolling out a full-on men's line a couple of years later and a womenswear collection in 2010, Eleven Paris proved it was more than just a novelty act.

The collection is entry-level Gallic rock'n'roll – influenced by global music, art and underground culture – realised across sweatshirts, denim and leather jackets and, of course, those T-shirts. This season African-inspired prints and colours sit alongside bright-hued sneaker hybrids and espadrilles – the brand's more recent foray into shoes – which simply shout summer.

Rebellious campaign stars further add to those rock'n'roll credentials, too – with the images for spring/summer 13 fronted by Lenny Kravitz and Charlotte Free, who made her catwalk debut in autumn/winter 11 walking for the likes of Vivienne Westwood. Previous campaigns have tapped “daughters of” such as Lizzy Jagger, Tali Lennox and Daisy Lowe, who was shot alongside another enfant terrible, one Iggy Pop.

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