In July 2022, just before the Balenciaga couture show, Didier Ludot returned from lunch to discover “the longest, most beautiful legs I have ever seen” at his namesake vintage couture boutique in the shopping arcades of the Palais-Royal. They belonged to Nicole Kidman, who was in Paris to walk in the Balenciaga show and was patiently waiting with her husband, Keith Urban.
They spent three hours browsing, with Mr. Urban fetching dresses for his wife, helping her to zip them up and then carefully replacing them on their hangers, prompting Mr. Ludot to jokingly offer him a post as his assistant. “They were a delight,” Mr. Ludot, 72, recalled recently.
It’s hard to imagine — now that every red carpet features a “vintage” dress or two, many only a few years old and now that the term has become something of a buzzword for sustainability — but when Mr. Ludot opened his door in 1974, he was the only boutique owner to curate his stock as if he were collecting couture for an art gallery. As much as anyone, he helped start the current phenomenon. And after 50 years, he has the stories to prove it.
He has always operated the boutique “like an art gallery, except we sell haute couture,” Mr. Ludot said. “Everything in the store belongs to me. There is no consignment, I buy every piece outright. It’s a galerie de la mode and I am its antique dealer. Next week, for instance, I have a rendezvous to view some Courrèges coats. If I like them and we agree on a price, madame will leave my boutique with her check.”