Geneva | Picturesque Shopper’s Paradise
We want to show you just how creative your shopping in Geneva can get – once you know where to go. The block around Place du Molard may be well stocked with designer boutique options and department stores, but the surrounding side streets and downtown villages like Eaux Vives, Carouge and Quartier des Bains have a wealth of interesting and creative one-offs. How about a unique mechanical art gallery complete with flying structures? Or a world-renowned vintage clothing collection? One of a kind jewels? Retro home design at affordable prices? Book-stores where you can buy art and get your hair done? Geneva has so many original outlets to discover on any shopping tour. Plus, a big advantage to shopping in the city is its bijoux size: you can cover most of it on foot and the remainder via the super-efficient tram system.
Le Bal des Créateurs
Le Bal des Créateurs is a concept store devised by Geneva’s most famous hairdresser, Christophe Durand. Housed in an old art gallery, it features a bookshop, beauty room, hairdresser’s and 150m2 gallery area, making it a favourite with local designers and the fashion press. Regular pop-up shops and hip parties attract hipsters who are often spotted lurking on the street outside sipping the shop’s signature party drink, bubble tea. The location on the edge of the Quartier des Bains district makes it an ideal entry point into the local contemporary art scene too.
Les Enfants Terribles
Part design workshop, part vintage emporium and part café bar, Les Enfants Terribles pulls off a feat of multi-tasking to be one of the coolest spaces in Geneva. But don’t bank on shabby meaning cheap. Locals appear happy to pay over the odds for something their grandma threw out years ago. Housed in a former garage in creative Plainpalais, the store’s concept reflects its industrial heritage. All is practical, appealing and fit for purpose. Dented metal storage canisters rub shoulders with stylish Danish Hay chairs, while ink-stained wooden boxes jostle for space with bold BTC lamps from the UK and trendy Japanese bamboo bowls in a riot of colours. Café bar and épicerie Le Snack also draws a loyal after work crowd for Italian olives and a bottle of Swiss Gamay.
MAD in this case doesn’t stand for crazy, although there is something of the weird and wonderful about this place. It stands for Mechanical Art Devices, and it’s a gallery and shop that shows unconventional pieces from leading international artists in kinetic (movable) art. It’s clever, creative, sophisticated and has a Swiss link – there’s a watch theme running throughout. Check out Quentin Carnaille’s Apesanteur, a sculpture that actually flies. It’s a levitating disk made of thousands of tiny mechanical watch components which are connected to a magnet and fly above an ebony base. If you fancy one as a dinner party piece you need to be prepared to part with CHF13’500. That price hasn’t put off the watch and mechanical aficionados of Geneva however, as they have been flying (ahem) out the door. Further down the price scale are funky, original posters by Swiss photographer Ulysse Fréchelin. His exhibition uses close-ups and unusual camera angles to photograph American trucks in bright colours – and they’re a snip at just CHF1’900.
Turn your back on the lake and hike up the hill towards Geneva’s upmarket Florissant quarter for hippy-dippy interior design shop Ozone. Inspired by 1960s London, it offers an affordable range of retro goodies – think bright Perspex vases, Warhol prints and quirky Quadrophenia-inspired mirrors. However, this is definitely ’60s-lite and there’s a tendency to stick to the obvious, such as original framed photographs featuring big name icons Twiggy and Bardot. But take the trouble to wander further and you’ll unearth some fascinating shots of unknowns, capturing the decade’s fashion on the street. As a nod to its posh neighbours walking their pampered pooches, Ozone now stocks a line of over-the-top doggy accessories.
Le Panapé de Caméla
The intriguing and busy bazaar window display at interiors shop Le Panapé de Caméla catches the imagination of passing students from nearby Geneva University as much as local big-spenders. Cheerful founders Catherine and Bérengère call the collection “cosy,” which you could interpret as a mash-up of English country with a thread of chalet. But whatever the meaning, it’s a concept that includes highly covetable blue and white dinner plates, chunky wooden stools, bold fabrics and ethnic accessories. If you can’t afford a marble table you can at least buy into the theme with an original take on an enamel water jug.
Tucked away in Place des Augustins, this shop is known for its selection of unique pieces by Swiss and international independent designers.
Tucked away in Place des Augustins, this shop is known for its selection of unique pieces by Swiss and international independent designers. The focus is womenswear from diaphonous dresses to cashmere, funky gold jewellery and leather bags, but there’s also a natty line in children’s furniture.
It’s well worth visiting this popular Geneva department store, whether for fashion, cosmetics or a spot of quality people-watching in the busy food hall.
Any shopping trip to Geneva should, and inevitably will, feature this busy department store at some point. There are reasons to hang out here at all points in the day, not least for the food and drink. You can have a cuppa with the leisurely coffee set, lunch with city workers and a delicious (but pricey) deli dinner until 10pm in the fabulous food hall. Fashionwise, the selection has become more adventurous in recent years and now includes edgy, contemporary brands from the likes of hipster favourite Maje and Sandro, while the vast lingerie department stocks every “it” brand from Elle Macpherson to Hanky Panky. The cosmetics hall has had a recent update too and is easily the best in town with Mac, Laurent Mercier, and all the traditional brands. The homeware department is also worth a peek, especially around Christmas time when it’s packed with creative festive baubles and alpine frills. Frankly, it’s a challenge to leave empty-handed.
A welcome addition to the designer fashion scene in Geneva, La Muse offers an edgy and eclectic mix of brands passionately sold to you by its owner, Viola. Her creative mix of labels includes established British and international names such as Vivienne Westwood and Hudson, and newly emerging homegrown talent. If you love a heel then head here to try on towering beauties from shoe masters Nicholas Kirkwood and Jerome Rousseau, while less flashy fashions include Joseph basics and flats from Ancient Greek Sandals. The presence of certain innovative jewellery designers and Wayuu bags – a celeb favourite – shows that when there is a buzz around a trend, Viola will be on it.
Poetry and art inspire the décor of this uptown multibrand store. The tone is set by the words to the French poem L’Apollinaire printed across swathes of linen, and specially commissioned pieces of Italian designer furniture fixed to the floor. The fashion is just as considered. Catering to the ladies of Geneva society who may move in the same circles, the shop carefully buys only a maximum of two items from each designer to avoid any firey fashion fall-outs. The brand mix, including Drome, Zucca, Tsumori Chisato and Antonia Marras, aims for clients with big budgets and a taste for the avant-garde. Prices start at around CHF300 for knitwear from Italian brand Aviu. The Italian owner, Valentina Caviglia, loves art and organises regular events with an art theme.