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.