Garden of Eden

THE FRENCH are coming and they are bringing their trendy clothes with them! Sacre bleu, ce n'est pas possible, I hear you cry.

By David Light (Staff Reporter)

Published: Wed 4 Jun 2008, 12:14 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:17 PM

Well I'm here to tell you it's true. The days of the socks and sandals look are numbered and actually, as I briefly catch a reflection of myself in the window, one could argue that their presence could not have come at a better time.

Stroll around the malls of this fair city and you will find (with a few expensive exceptions) the same old dross that gets paraded down the high street of Luton on a Saturday morning, usually by a mother and daughter in matching outfits. Not to say there is anything wrong with Luton high street on a Saturday morning or for that matter matching outfits but, you know... really?!

Smart and sophisticated

Thus the quintessential Gallic outfitters Eden Park have arrived on these shores to clothe us men (and some women) in a rough and ragged but at the same time smart and sophisticated way that would make any self respecting public schoolboy proud.

Boasting a twenty-year history and created by French rugby legends Franck Mesnel and Eric Blanc, Eden Park is a monumental French clothing company with the rare attribute of actually meaning something and carrying significance with their customers. Brought to the region by the Rivoli Group, Eden Park opened to a wonderful fanfare last week. This brand really represents so much more than just a normal marketing tool. Normally customers have to discover the history and message Eden Park delivers on their own but with the help of Franck Mesnel himself City Times can reveal the type of lifestyle and cultural ideals you will be buying into if you so decided to shop at this establishment.


Mesnel who is now chairman of the board of Eden Park was once a star back for the famous Parisian rugby team Racing Club de France. Joining the team at the age of 21 the professional rugby outfit was not faring so well in those early days. "We used to come in all beat up with a thirty or forty point loss every weekend," Franck told us. "It was tough to take because rugby is a hugely physical game so not only did you have bruises and cuts but you also had the weight of a loss to cope with. It was bad." The world of French rugby at the time was just as difficult to stomach for Franck and his young counterparts. A stagnant atmosphere of conservatism and a fan base consisting of the remnants of a few Parisian Old Boys' Clubs did not make the losing streak any easier to bear. It was then that Franck and his teammates, who were essentially still students, decided to mix things up. In the 1983-84 season as Racing Club were vying for promotion to the first division they travelled to Dijon to play Bourgoin in a play-off final. It was there the team decided to play the final in long pink underpants. Such eccentricity outraged the establishment but something seemed to have worked as Racing won 9-6. From then on Racing or "le Show-Bizz" as they were nicknamed went from strength to strength.

Over the next few seasons Mesnel and his team's pranks became even more audacious. In the early 1987 season they took to Bayonne's playing field in Basque berets. Several months later the team ran out of their changing room in club blazers and black bow-ties. It was April 26, 1987 that Racing Club de France felt they had come full circle and arrived on the big scene however when they arrived at the Grand Final against a brilliant Toulon side wearing pink bow-ties. Thousands of spectators attended the game as expected but surprisingly they were also wearing pink bow-ties. The pink bow tie is now Eden Park's logo which signifies "the spirit of eccentricity and accomplishment."

Why Eden Park?

But why choose the name Eden Park? Eden Park is the name of the All Blacks home stadium over 20,000 miles from Paris in Auckland, New Zealand. What has that got to do with "le Show-Bizz?" The answer is that Eden Park is where French rugby has put in some of its most notorious and glorious performances to date. One particularly close to the company is the French team reaching the first ever Rugby World Cup final in 1987 where Mesnel then on international duty carried a pink bow-tie in his pocket for luck.

"Our brand is a spirit," Franck Mesnel continued, "We are a club. A completely open club but we are a club. There is a student spirit here that still exists. Our brand stands for anything being possible. When we started pulling pranks on the field we did it for a joke but it was that joke that put pressure on us to succeed as everyone could see we were trying something different. It worked because we started to win."

'Rugby provides a good education'

Franck went on to explain that with rugby's resurgence from the shadow of football the sport's ethos is at the forefront of people's minds when comparing the two. "I love football, I always have. But rugby has a certain degree of respect. It is a contact sport but everyone must respect the rules to keep it safe. Rugby provides a good education for people and we wish to extend that with our brand of clothes. We are not a luxury brand but we are not far off. Eden Park offers complete quality and style at an affordable cost and with it you get a story and history of success."

Eden Park is now open at Dubai's Festival City. The store offers brilliant outfits for men and women for every occasion. The spirit of the Racing Club team lives on in this brand and with its already worldwide success it is only set to do great things here in Dubai.

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