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Far from the trends of the 2010s, Miss Atomik would much rather the 50s. No trivial thing for this chic and straight up tattoo artist, who loves her city and its history, from the Middle Ages to the present.
She takes out her red chilli lipstick. With discreet precision, Miss Atomik traces the contours of her mouth before her pocket mirror while chatting with the owner of Rockin 'Bones, a famous vinyls shop (link box). "What I like here is the choice, and the advice. There is the vintage side too. Rock n 'roll and the sound of the 50s and 60s, it is a whole aesthetic ensemble. There are the cars, furniture, clothes and much more"
That is just the decor: our tattoo artist is a fan of the fifties, rockabilly and classic cars*. She herself tinkers with her own Opel Rekord coupe (1964), a gem she customised. Pretty.
Vintage; the word fits her like a glove ... or let's say like a tattoo. In her studio in Rue de Nantes, formica and 50's furniture stand next to religious icons and Christ-portraits. Brick red and creamy white surround leatherette chairs. Not really the style of bikers we might easily imagine strolling into the studio. "Bikers? No, they are not our business. Here we have everything from high school students to businessmen. I have psychologists, Rennes Stadium players, housewives, everybody! "
It's easy to walk down rue Motte-Fablet without seeing it. That would be a shame: the court in which Rockin'Bones stands is undoubtedly one of the finest in Rennes, visited by Japanese tourist buses, photographed and printed on postcards thousands of times. In a corner of this unnamed court, on the ground floor of a rickety and propped up building, Rockin 'Bones survives waves of fashion and the crisis of vinyls with renowned impudence. This famous vinyl record store hosts an incredible variety of wildlife, as well as its broadly rock n'roll vinyls.
"Rennes beats all France"
From the 50s rockabilly, to the psychedelic garage rock of today (Ty Segall, Radio Moscow, The Oh Sees etc.), the owner has something for everyone. Seb truly loves his city: "From the Association point of view, Rennes beats all France. There is an insane activity in this city. "The man with a distinct banter is also the head of the Beast Records label (non-profit association), which produces and hosts many Australian and local groups.
He may also be heard on the Rennes radio Canal B, host of the Blueshit programme every Saturday from 11:30 AM to 1 PM." In Rennes, the alarm sounds late on Saturday morning, to the beat of Larsens.
Is tattoo art a link among social classes? "Of course! It is not restricted to the underground; the tattoo has been greatly democratized. " She has tons of stories to tell about those seeking to customise their skin.
After her début in Paris, Miss Atomik has been in Rennes since 2007. A local speciality?
" Not really. There seems to be more requests for identity symbols such as the triskell, stoats, Breton flags. There are the sea anchors, and boats, from the sea world. "
Her Rennes spans from the historical centre, around the Place Sainte Anne, to the south of the Vilaine, towards the thriving St Helier neighbourhood. "I hung out a lot on Sainte-Anne and the old street of thirst (rue de Saint-Malo), so-nicknamed before rue Saint-Michel! " In the old town, rue Saint-Georges, around the Mordelaises doors and the Old Saint-Etienne church, she loves to push open the doors of some of the inner courtyards. There are some truly magnificent places, with timber beams and beautiful staircases. "
However, her Rennes is not only medieval. In her neighbourhood, south of the train station, Virginia loves the maisonettes of the 20s, 30s and 40s. Of brick or shale, some are decorated with wooden extensions, zinc cladding, glass surfaces overlooking sweet gardens. " This area can be explored on foot and you can even lose yourself. I am like a tourist here. Sometimes it lacks shops, many have become housing. But there is potential, and that will change. The surroundings of the Sacré-Cœur church is the family area. The September garage sale attracts a huge amount of people. Imagine the bistros around the square! It could be fantastic."
With its Berlin-like streets, its relaxed atmosphere, the relatively appeased traffic and neighbourhood cafés, the gentrification South of the Railway Station is under way, yet all types and styles blend. In the neighbourhood of Atomik Tattoo, beautiful sedans coexist with bikes, smoking old-timers on PMU terraces, students sharing a kebab, the forty-somethings pumping up their rejuvenated bicycles. All the while, in her studio, Virginia tattoos the skin of a Rennes stadium player.
*For amateurs, there is a gathering of vintage and remarkable vehicles every first Sunday of the month at the boathouses, at the Apigné ponds.
Taken from the name of a famous 1963 short film by Truffaut, Antoine and Colette is one of the many town centre's thrift shops, and Miss Atomik recommends it. The place is unusual: they sell hand-picked second-hand clothing, with brands from the 50s to the 70s and sometimes the 80s. There is confirmation of that which thrift dealers have told us: the 80s are back in fashion among the younger generations. Watch for the improbable return of neon, bandannas and the Reebok Pump.
Antoine and Colette is a second hand shop with a strong personality. "Here everything is especially selected, for men and women. We buy from individuals who have nice clothes, but especially we look for batches from wholesalers. " In short, used clothes, carefully filtered by the skilful care of the owner.
There are many other thrift shops in the city, although Miss Atomik has personal favourites : Ding Fring (Solidarity thrift) , Un amour de troc (more market) , La Friperie , Trocabi (consignment) etc. Rennes has a dozen thrift stores. A Facebook page was even created by Rennes' thrift amateurs, and includes ads and tips to change ones wardrobe.
Talking Vintage with Miss Atomik, one cannot possibly finish this tour of the city without paying a visit to the flea markets. Rennes' history of furniture and decoration merchants is closely linked to the central market, Les Halles Centrales, just behind La Criée, the auction rooms. "We have been here over 30 years" explains Edith and Mimi, two characters among the 25 second-hand dealers who set up here every Thursday morning. They also have a stand at the new Rennes flea market, mail François Mitterrand, on the second Sunday of each month.
How does one become a flea market merchant? "You start by searching in your grandmother's closet, then you eventually begin hunt in search of the object that everyone wants! " Right now, the 50's are clearly popular. " Its not exactly new, grins Mimi, specialist in vintage lounge. But we also see the return of the 80s, especially among the young. We must adapt to the current tastes! ".
For Edith, the people of Rennes are a clientèle apart. "I like the people of this city; they are generous, enthusiastic, and full of energy. This springs from the youth. But not only, we also have fairly sharp and accustomed pensioners. " Overall, she considers the people of Rennes to be "curious and friendly. " Mimi has the same opinion: " I often go to Nantes and I really think that the people of Rennes have retained a cooler, more naive behaviour.
In Nantes, people are more demanding, the relationships are more complicated. It must be said that the flea market there is much older. " It is not enough to stir the good old competition between Rennes and Nantes: in the view of two women, the customers are very complementary !