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Paris In New York: The Marché Aux Puces at Chelsea Passage

“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a flea market!” says Dennis Freedman, creative director of Barneys New York. The topic of conversation was the famed Marché aux Puces in Paris, undeniably the greatest flea market on earth, because just this week, Barneys launched its very own mini Marché aux Puces on the ninth floor of the Madison Avenue flagship.

There, in Chelsea Passage, you’ll find three stalls brimming with an eclectic mix of carefully curated decorative objects, furniture, paintings and more, all sourced from Paris and beyond. Right now, there’s everything from a vintage Emilio Pucci ottoman to a mid-century Fornasetti umbrella holder, but next week, there will be a whole new slew of treasures to discover. 

“It’s not your usual shop,” Dennis adds. “There won’t be another one like it—there can’t be. It’s all original things that are chosen by Barneys.” Here’s what else Dennis told us about the project…

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Whenever we go to Paris for the shows, the Barneys team tries to make it to the flea market in Clignancourt—there doesn’t seem to be any other place like it in the world.

It’s a rare time that you go there and don’t find 10 things you’d love to have. The variety is incredible. The pieces are sourced from all over Europe, and there’s obviously a great deal of history with decorative objects there. You find things in the Paris flea market that somehow you just can’t find here.

Barneys had the idea to bring the experience of the Paris flea market to New York as something special for our customers. And it also fits in with the history of Chelsea Passage, which is the place you go to find things that you can’t find anywhere else.

We looked at a lot, a lot, of pieces—thousands of them! We wanted to have a range—so that there would be pieces from the 20th century mixed in with pieces from the 19th and 18th centuries. Some things are under $200 and some things are over $5,000—the variety is really what counts. The overall idea is that we’re creating an exciting mix of objects. We simply chose things that we thought had great style, and that would look great in someone’s apartment or loft.

This is going to appeal to someone who likes to mix things from different time periods. It’s that contrast that makes an environment interesting.

For instance, we have some paintings on glass that were painted in India in the 20th century—well, that might go with something that’s from the turn of the century. Or a French piece from the 1930s. That’s what’s exciting about it—it is a place to discover things; what’s interesting is the surprise. If you go up to the 9th floor, you are hopefully going to find something you’ve never seen before.

(Plus, it’s already gotten the stamp of approval from Elle Decor.)

Photographs by Tom Sibley.