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A new line from France

Photograph of Cotelac at 1930 Fillmore Street by Rien Van Rijthoven

With minimal fanfare, the barricades have come down and the French-accented fashion boutique Cotelac has opened its 100th retail store at 1930 Fillmore, longtime home of Fillmore Hardware.

While the brand of separates and accessories has wide saturation worldwide, especially throughout France and Asia, this is only its fourth store in the U.S., with others in Boston, Chicago and New York.

Designer Raphaelle Cavalli favors dresses, tunics, no jewelry and no fuss. But her styles are slightly offbeat and bohemian, replete with French details such as ruches, pleats and gathers, peek-a-boo necklines and covered seam finishing in flowing fabrics and lightweight knits. Aiming for ease in care and wearability, most of the offerings are in blends of cotton, cashmere and polyester that can be handwashed rather than dry cleaned.

Also featured in the Fillmore boutique is a sister line, Acote — aimed at the younger fashionista — which offers trendier designs, a slightly slimmer fit and fun patterns and color at prices lower than the original line. And the men’s line, just three years old, features shirts and slouchy sweaters in slim European cuts, with surprising details that include contrasting linings and stitching.

The look and layout of the Fillmore Street store is similar to those in Paris. And, typically French, the store is beautifully staged, with clothes arrayed in muted palettes of teals and greys, brown and persimmon, camel and green.

Fillmore store manager Jen Dimovich says that while Cotelac is considering a store in Los Angeles, this neighborhood was the only choice for its debut on the west coast.

“We want to be a little off the beaten path,” she says. “And we want to be hip, but we’re not flashy — like Fillmore Street.”

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Architect Daniel Robinson remembers going to the Fillmore Hardware store with his dad when he was a little boy after his family moved from England into the neighborhood in 1976.

“Fillmore Street is a little higher end now than I remember,” he says.

And some of that is because of him.

Robinson designed the new store for Cotelac, the French fashion label, creating a sleek and streamlined space by stripping the hardware store’s longtime home down to its essential elements, including the bare concrete walls of the facade.

Robinson worked in collaboration with the company’s French architect, who has designed most of its 100 stores around the globe. He provided the broad strokes for the Fillmore store, which Robinson — who speaks French — converted from metric measures and adapted to local building codes and materials.

“The theme was established from their other stores — very high-end materials offset against something a little more rustic,” says Robinson, a principal with MacCracken Architects in San Francisco. Unadorned waxed Venetian plaster walls are a backdrop for the clothing, which is supported by rods hanging from two rows of rough pine tree trunks hand picked in Oregon. The poured concrete floor is inset with river stones and terra cotta tiles.

“It was a fun project,” Robinson says. “We’ve gone from 3/8-inch tubing to $400 sweaters.”