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Thread your way back in time - the Mercerie - Silk Thread


Ultramod - the Mercerie and hat shop

A quest for silk embroidery thread leads me to a haberdashery on a narrow Paris street.


 The only name visible at this address behind the green façade is "Mercerie".


The mercerie on the rue de Choiseul sits a few doors north of the Passage Choiseul entrance along rue Saint-Augustin.


Unlike the first chapter setting in Emile Zola's novel, Thérèse Raquin, this display window lacks the dust and dinginess. The interior is lit with brilliant colors of the past and present. The roses are freshened weekly.


Ultramod lacks the depressing spirit of Zola's main character. If you visit between two and three in the afternoon, you will encounter a conviviality doubtfully found in any other mercerie shop in Paris.


One day while waiting for the owner, Mr. Jean-François Morin, the sounds of laughter and chatter and the clinking of the cutlery against the porcelain and the scent of a warm lunch mingled with the sight of colored jewels of buttons, boxes, ribbons and threads.


Ultramod is a haberdashery shop -- a mercerie. They have two shops across the narrow street from each other.  The mercerie on the one side of rue de Choiseul sells vintage silk ribbons that feel as if you are burying your fingers in goose down.


If you are looking for a button, you have hundreds or "thousands" from which to choose.


They sell silk threads from Au Ver à Soie or the complete color range of DMC, traditional braids, ribbons of all types, embroidery and tapestry threads.


Across the street, is the vintage hat shop with its vintage patterned straw and other materials, furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), and supplies (fourniture) for hat making. Givenchy once bought here, Lanvin does and Jean Paul Gaultier visits personally to select his materials. If no one is in the shop, someone in the mercerie will open the door for you.


Consider the vintage materials in the two shops as unique -- once they are gone they are gone forever!


Experiencing the moment

This mercerie spells ambiance with a capital “A”. The little shells above the entry door tingle continuously as the customers move steadily in and out looking for that special color….


A French couple comes in looking for thread. Her button has come off the bottom of her pants.

The color has to match her shoes, her stockings and the color of the button. With help, they find the taupe color necessary to pull the look together.


The Japanese girl in the raincoat wants to replace the black buttons on her coat and sets about to patiently look for and to find the replacements in one of the button boxes.


The French woman holds two rolls of printed ribbon and needs a specific measure.


Another tries to imagine how the olive felt ribbon will look tied; Marc demonstrates how to lap the pieces to achieve the effect she wants.


A green, hand-crank cash register and hand written receipts monitor all sales.


Often tourists come in browsing and still end up leaving with something, Mr. Morin says.


We speak Japanese

Guidebooks and fashion magazines in Japan mention Ultramod often.


Momoko found her job with Ultramod after reading about the mercerie in the Japanese Elle magazine. She wanted to work here and followed the channels.


She is here on an exchange visa so she can work and learn French and the business simultaneously. This mercerie is a favorite destination for Japanese tourists, and she acts as the translator.



The oral history of Ultramod dates to between the 1860s and 1880s. The last of the family sold out in the 1990s.


Mr. Morin formerly had a career in finance, until about 1991. In 1996 he  was smitten as soon as he walked into the mercerie side run by Madame Léone Santais. Mr. Morin then had the opportunity to buy the store across the street, the original with all of its vintage stock. The last of the original family was selling (the name of the family was not exactly clear -- Mr. Morin is not even sure of the name any longer).


The original families’ factory and storage facilities in the north of France was bombed in the 1940s. They brought the salvageable stock to Paris and rue de Choiseul.


The collection of the vintage treasures for sale is amazingly large. When the stock is depleted, that’s it!


Useful information


Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

3 and 4 rue de Choiseul 75002

Tel: 01 42 96 98 30 Fax 01 42 60 45 57

Metro: Quatre Septembre (near the Opera)


Additional trivia

A haberdasher is a person who sells small, commonly used items in clothing via retail. This can include ribbons and buttons, or completed accessories, such as hats or gloves. A haberdasher's shop or the items sold therein are called haberdashery -- Wikipedia


Au ver à Soie

The wholesale business of Au Ver à Soie (founded in 1820) is located on rue Réaumur.


The woman with whom I spoke at Au Ver à Soie was very secretive about their factory.


She spoke to me from behind a massive, solid wood, old-fashioned counter, topped by a gigantic gold cash register, the atelier (studio) windows behind her.


She was among the wood bookshelves that reached to the top of the high ceiling room filled with thin boxes and tightly wrapped grey packages. Other women were at work over to the side behind other partitions and walls.

Samples hung on the wall and on the display hooks to the right of the two entry doors made of wood and old glass imprinted with the complete name of Au Ver à Soie written on an angle.


What I left with, however, was the name of Ultramod and their address.


This was also my introduction to silk thread.


A reader wanted to visit Au Ver à Soie thinking that the factory was located in Paris. During the September Journées du Patrimoine, it might be possible to visit the factory which is located in Bracieux (Loir-et-Cher, Centre).


Let's visit Ultramod

Come with me on a tour of Ultramod, a haberdashery (mercerie) from long ago that lives a popular presence on rue de Choiseul in Paris.

Jean Francois Morin and Momoko Ultramod Mercerie

Jean François Morin and Momoko Ultramod Mercerie Haberdashery rue de Choiseul Paris

Ultramod - 3 and 4 rue de Choiseul 75002

Interior looking to rear of store Ultramod Paris rue de Choiseul

The mercerie interior - front to back

Entry roses and buttons Ultramod Paris mercerie

When entering the mercerie, you are

faced with buttons on two walls

Silk thread needlework tapestry Au Ver a Soie (silk worm) Ultramod Paris

A collection of the various Au Ver à Soie products

Ultramod Paris mercerie embroidery threads in window from lamps

The window display never stays the same;

it stays as lively as the interior!

Marc Ultramod Paris

Marc and Masako Taniuchi (Hokkaido Bunka

Fashion College)

Hat pins, lace photo, vintage, antiques Ultramod Paris

Antique hat pins - not for sale Ultramod Paris, hat pins, vintage, antique, gloves Hat pins, antique, vintage Ultramod Paris Lace, hat pins, Ultramod Paris

Ultramod Paris vintage cabinet with antique hat pins and lace

Cabinet that holds the antique hat pins -

for display only

Ultramod Paris interior looking to the front fabric, ribbons, embroidery threads

Ultramod interior front to back Ultamod Paris buttons hundreds colors and shapes

Buttons! have they got buttons Ultamod Paris buttons for children decorations

Ultamod Paris embroidered ribbons

A small selection of beautiful embroidered ribbons

Ultamod Paris loom used now to measure large quantities of ribbon

A piece of equipment that is now used to

count out mega meters of ribbon

Ultamod Paris furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

A wall full of fringe for household decorating

furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making


Flexible rayon, silk-like decoration, furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

This rayon (silk) product can be shaped to any form furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

 furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture)  for hat making

More selections on the hat side of the street

Hat samples to decorate

Queen Elizabeth II furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

Queen Elizabeth II's hat form from wild hare

furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

Paille, straw for hat making - Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

Straw used for hats

furniture braids, coarse-grains (gros-grains), supplies (fourniture) for hat making

Hat form