The Flyers of Les Folie’s Pigalle

The graphic designer behind one of the French Touch’s most famous nights recalls his creations

September 6, 2016

Back in the 1990s, Michel Poulain got expelled from a very prestigious private art school: “the administration at Maryse Eloy had heard that I worked in Pigalle. They thought I was prostituting myself.”

And while the young man was indeed a denizen of the famous red-light district, it wasn’t by pounding its pavement that he was making a living – although he was certainly a creature of the night. Poulain was already known to Pigalle revelers as La Shampouineuse (“Shampoo Girl”) an alias which endures in creative circles to this day.

There, he cut his teeth by creating the visual universe for the Folie’s Pigalle, a neighborhood club that functioned as the incubator for the French Touch. So while Dimitri From Paris, Daft Punk, Philippe Zdar, Patrick Vidal, DJ Gregory were filling the dingy venue with their brand of tasteful house, La Shampouineuse would carpet-bomb the city with his colourful, pop art-indebted flyers: “Folie’s Pigalle wasn’t yet famous, and was trying its best to rival the much more popular Queen nightclub. Our promotional efforts had to be top notch,” he recalls.

The kitsch-obsessed young designer’s ’50s- and ’60s-inspired images quickly became synonymous with the nascent club, helping it become a sensation in the fickle Parisian nightlife metaverse. Not bad for a 20 year-old who loved partying and suddenly had a bunch of free time on his hands. Getting the boot from school in no way hindered his professional progression: he later went on to handle the art department of defunct gay magazine Têtu, and now takes care of fellow Folie’s stalwart David Guetta’s image. Poulain takes us on a tour of some of his most memorable pieces.

Speaking of girls – one of the Folies’ regulars was this boy, Christophe Le Friand. He was this DJ who went by the name of Chris the French Kiss, who also had his own label, Yellow Productions. He was this really high-strung character, very straightforward. He really stood out at the Folie’s: we were always wearing really flashy, synthetic, colorful clubwear outfits, and he would always show up in plain overalls. He loved girls, this guy, especially when they were naked. He loved this flyer and asked me if he could use the design for a Kid Loco record cover. A few years later, Christophe became really famous under the name Bob Sinclar.
Everybody at the Folie’s was in love with this good-natured, 6-foot-6, 18-year-old kid who drove around town in his mom’s Austin Mini. He was always ready down to party, and equally ready to help. He started out by passing out flyers for Axel, and eventually started putting on his own night at the club, “Hype.” His name was Pedro Winter. He very much cared about his night’s image, and always wanted to stand out: while all the flyers for the club’s other nights were in English and French, he made his in Spanish, which I thought was very funny. He was the one who first brought Daft Punk to the Folie’s. Also, when David and Cathy Guetta enlisted Pedro to put on nights at the Palace’s famous Fumoir smoking lounge, I tagged along and took care of the flyers.

On a different note