ONLY IN MEGÈVE – AALLARD BOUTIQUE
Come to Megève, mon amour, for AAllard fur, fuseaux, and French sophistication.
Next to the 14th-century church and across from the horseand‑carriage stop, the AAllard boutique occupies pride of place in Megève’s cobbled village square. Not merely a trove of cashmere, wool, and fur sophistication, AAllard is a French historical treasure.
In 1926, just as Baroness Noémie “Mimi” de Rothschild was beginning to attract aristocrats to the snowy Haute-Savoie and laying the foundation for Megève as a ski destination, a polio-struck Armand Allard, unable to farm, instead mastered the trade of sewing. At his small tailor shop in the town square, the stars would align four years later when the famous French ski racer Émile Allais and his handlers came to Allard for help: His billowy Tintin ski pants were slowing him down. Overnight, Allard fashioned a pair of stream-lined trousers with elastics underfoot and a sleek inside-the-boot fit. Voilà, le fuseau, the world’s first pants designed specifically for skiing. Originally in wool, later in stretch fabrics, the fuseau quickly became the iconic uniform of the chic, both on-piste and at après-ski parties.
“The fuseau erases all lines and gives the appearance of very long legs,” explains Armand’s grandson, Antoine Allard, from the comfort of the same shop, still in operation after 90 years. The store, refurbished in 2012 in pale wood and plush carpeting, includes details such as a replica of Antoine’s grandfather’s cutting table — one designed in the 1950s by famous French architect Henry-Jacques Le Même.
Antoine Allard is now third-generation steward of this alpine institution, an empire that grew, only slightly, with the 1990 opening of a sister boutique for accessories, bags, hats, gloves, and shoes. (The second shop is also home to the much sought-after AAllard silk scarf; a new design is released, Hermès-style, each season.) With the exception of Bogner, a brand with which they share a long relationship, all products in AAllard’s main boutique — from ski jackets, to sweaters, hats, jeans, and, bien sûr, the iconic fuseau — are AAllard’s design, a rare independent in a world of global brands and ubiquity.
“You won’t find these anywhere else in the world. If you see someone wearing AAllard,” explains Antoine, running his gaze over curated rows of fur-collared jackets and a candy-colored rainbow of fine cashmere sweaters, “they can have bought it only in Megève.”
And how many designers are employed to occasion such riches? “One. Just me.” Antoine declares with a smile. “All products are from the AAllard collection. I choose the design, I choose the color, the material, everything. I work with very high-quality products direct with the factory.” The collection is select: Some sweaters are produced only by the dozen, by the finest Italian weavers. Fabrics are washed before and after construction. And each product is designed to be customized as required; two full-time seamstresses are on-site for modifications.
Voilà, le fuseau, the first pants designed specifically for skiing.
“My school for creating the collection is right here,” explains Antoine as he gazes through large windows onto a cobbled square dotted with ultra-chic Megèviste and Parisienne holiday-makers. “Here, I’m in contact with the customer and I’m in contact with production.”
Upstairs, alongside his parents’ apartment and the seamstress’ workshop, Antoine’s office is dotted with sketches and swatches that will define what Megève wears next season. With a policy of no sales or discounts, AAllard’s focus is attention to detail, quality, and a high level of service. There is, after all, tradition to safeguard. Antoine opens a cupboard and steps up onto a chair; out comes a box of alpine fashion history. Wrapped neatly in tissue paper is a pair of fuseau once belonging to Émile Allais — the champion ski racer who popularized both the parallel turn and the first pair of stretchy ski pants.
Tradition dictates AAllard clients come back year after year, and not only for clothing. According to Antoine, they drop by the boutique for helpful advice: where to dine, how to locate a babysitter. A client once told Antoine that while wearing AAllard clothing, “I feel comfortable, safe, and quiet, as I do in my Rolls‑Royce.”
Inside AAllard’s elegant boutique, browsers find cashmere-lined lambskin driving shoes, reversible woolen and suede coats, as well as, naturally, pairs of hot pink fuseaux that catch the eye easily. Indeed, the array of fuseaux on display runs through a kaleidoscope of color, from electric orange to cerulean blue to bubblegum pink. Fuseaux come in three cuts: jodhpur, race, and classic.
“Le fuseau is always in fashion for us,” Antoine declares, “but these days we are experiencing a very big comeback.” The designer explains that the resurgence of slim fitting ski wear has been a boon for AAllard: “We can work without stitching and seams,” he says, “so we can put the fuseau back inside the ski boot.” Alas, there is only one place to get this look: It’s got to be Megève, mon amour.