34 bd Saint-Germain

Based in a former café at 34 Boulevard St Germain, they concentrated on selling their own fabrics. They also designed and sold coloured candles to complement the fabrics. In 1963 their candlemaker, Jean-Claude Bullens, suggested they try scented candles (rare at the time) and the first three – hawthorn, cinnamon and tea – were launched that year. The fabrics failed to find favour with customers – despite one being used as the backdrop for a televised address by General Charles de Gaulle – and the operation changed tack to stock a range of exclusive, often handmade, products sourced from their travels. For this eclectic, tasteful mixture, which included wooden toys, kaleidoscopes, pomanders, Welsh blankets, model theatres, pot pourri and ties, plus tea towels and tablecloths from a young designer, Laura Ashley, the creators were dubbed "purveyors of trifles" in the 1964 Gault et Millau Paris guide.

There were also distinctive necklaces made by Knox-Leet and Gautrot in the workroom/office above the shop where Coueslant handled all the correspondence on a manual typewriter bought from an army surplus store. "We started small, did everything ourselves, and slaved for years to pay off our debts," he said.


Yves Coueslant obituary by Joanna Lyall. The Guardian, 18 novembre 2013