The Inimitable Sylvie Grumbach: A Life Woven in Fashion and Flamboyance – online auction at Drouot

Sylvie Grumbach

Celebrating fashion

Vivienne Westwood – John Galliano et
Alaïa – Jean Paul Gaultier – Kenzo – Jean Paul Knott – Kenta Matsushige – Claude Montana – Thierry Mugler – Saint Laurent Rive Gauche – Koji Tatsuno…

Sylvie Grumbach is a fashion enigma, defying easy classification much like her eclectic wardrobe. Born into fashion royalty—her grandfather Cerf Mendès France founded the Mendès fashion house and her brother, Didier Grumbach, once led the Fédération française de la Couture—Sylvie was destined for a life draped in fabrics and styles. She grew up in western Paris, witnessing the artistry of dressmaking firsthand as a tailor visited her home every Tuesday.

In her youth, Sylvie had the privilege of selecting pleated skirts from Jean Patou’s collection and spent her school holidays helping dress models in her family’s business. Disinterested in academics, she forayed into the working world with internships at places like Woolmark and CPC, where her audacity to wear trousers to work caused a minor stir.

By the early 1970s, Sylvie joined forces with her brother Didier and designer Andrée Putman to launch “Créateurs et industriels,” making the term “designer” synonymous with innovative ready-to-wear. Sylvie wore many hats—handling press, sales, and even managing their rue de Rennes store—before pivoting to work with Valentino.

When night fell, Sylvie was the queen of Parisian nightlife, frequenting the iconic club Le Sept before it evolved into the Palace. She was not just a fixture but a star, able to seamlessly juggle styles from Montana to Mugler, all while crafting her own signature look. “I transitioned from one persona to another but was always the same,” Sylvie reflects.

Her life took a poignant turn with the passing of Fabrice Emaer in 1984, prompting Sylvie to leave the nocturnal world for a new venture, 2e Bureau. Combining her expertise in press and public relations, she fostered collaborations across fashion, music, art, and more. Icons like Vivienne Westwood were quick to join her new enterprise, encouraged by the likes of Malcolm McLaren, the legendary British rock band manager.

Yet Sylvie’s love for nightlife didn’t wane entirely. Hubert Boukobza tapped her to work with Les Bains Douches, where she continued to celebrate fashion in its purest form. For Sylvie, the past had an unfiltered authenticity, with fashion journalists setting real trends and press attachés deeply involved in the creative process. “They were as close as possible to the collections, immersed in the designer’s aesthetic,” she notes.

Today, 2e Bureau represents a diverse clientele, ranging from Première Vision to Reporters Without Borders. Sylvie’s close-knit team includes stalwarts like Martial Hobeniche and Marie-Laure Girardon. When asked about contemporary fashion, Sylvie is less than impressed. “Fast fashion is poorly made; well-dressed people now lean towards vintage,” she remarks.

As 2e Bureau looks to auction off its archival treasures, including pieces from Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano, along with Sylvie’s own collection featuring Japanese designers Koji Tatsuno and Kenta Matsushige, one thing is clear: the lucky buyers will not just own a piece of fashion, but a slice of Sylvie Grumbach’s inimitable life.






Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.