Cantona Can!

He is the one football star that is on everyone’s lips but not part of the establishment. Paris retailer Colette and gallery owner Kamel Mennour honor the man

Old jerseys, custom-made paintings and of course, footballs

Eric Cantona is football royalty, Kamel Mennour is an art world star and Sarah is the co-founder of Colette, the coolest retailer in Paris. And let´s not forget Cantona’s wife Rachida, who has impeccable fashion taste as she thinks new Lanvin designer Bouchra Jarrar is the best of them all. What do these three or four have in common, you may think? Coca-Cola, who partnered with Colette during the Euro, brought them together for an incredible project in which a group of Mennour gallery artists and others have created art work on the iconic ex-Manchester United player, who will always be remembered for being the first major French star in the Premier League.

A view of the gallery

Cantona is the star of an exhibition, which is currently held in Colette’s gallery and features everything from old jerseys to custom-made artwork. Cantona now lives in Lisbon, a city of which he says: ”I love the country, it is a capital and you can do whatever you want. The weather, the light and the food are great.” Cantona finished his playing career in 1997 and has been moonlighting as an actor, producer, art collector and homme de vie. “I am a dreamer at the end of the day. I like to interpret the world around me in my own way”, explains the handsome and fit Cantona sitting downstairs at Collette wearing a Lacoste shirt and his signature beard. Cantona is close to Kamel Mennour and when he was approached about this show, he immediately said yes.

“Why Cantona?”, is what we asked Sarah of Colette. “When you think of football now in Paris, you have Zlatan coming to mind. He is the big player. But it is great to go back and find a hero like Cantona who stands for irreverence and purity in the corporate world of football.” Sarah is hoping that the Euro will bring many new visitors to Paris and France and finds that not only the recent attacks can scare people away but she is also critical of her country’s constant strikes and aggressive protests. The fact that the weather was bad and the Seine overflowed does not help to make Paris an attractive destination in her opinion. At least the home team won last night to get the Euro started.

Sarah and Kamel who has his suits made by a tailor

Gallery owner Kamel Mennour is the man of the moment in Paris: his artist Huang Yong Ping is featured in the current Monumenta at the Grand Palais, he opened a new space on Avenue Matignon and has even plastered the city of Paris with billboards announcing the new gallery. Parisian billboards are so expensive that they are generally taken by mega brands like Armani, Tag Heuer or Air France. He loves football and has his own box at the Parc de Princes to see Paris Saint-Germain games. But between all the art world marathons he is running, he considers this show at Colette a moment of recreation and pause. Football is one of his obsessions and it allows him to create a spirit of mind that he cannot find in his daily work. To Mennour, life has no frontiers and that is where he is very close in spirit with Cantona who says: “I collect art as I see it as a part of myself. Art has no limitations and neither do I want any.”

Cantona has been to a few fashion shows but does not remember their names. He cites Bouchra Jarrar as his favorite and Kamel Mennour is a fashion man as well. He shops at Hermès where designer Veronique Nichanian is his neighbor in St. Germain but generally he likes to go to stores and just get surprised.

Eric the King Fan Club exhibition runs from June 6th until July 2nd at Colette, 213 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris