Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lacroix and Patou

Before Christian Lacroix set out by himself in 1987 he was at the helm of Jean Patou. Now unfortunately both Patou and Lacroix no longer produce clothes. Patou has been reduced to a shade of its former glory with just perfumes which are waning in today’s markets, and Lacroix always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Recently this year the last Haute Couture collection for Jean Patou by Christian Lacroix went up for auction. This was a chance for bidders to purchase the end of an era and the beginning of the next.

The creations hold that un-mistakable Lacroix style, while maintaining some of the Patou design aesthetic, which is important. We have the juxtaposition of a couture house trying to maintain its design roots and the birth of another brand new house as Lacroix then left to start off on his own. When he took over at Patou the house was flagging, and Lacroix seduced us all with fabulous, luxurious shows, which put himself and not Patou in the limelight. There had not been a new opening of a couture house in Paris since Saint Laurent in 1961, and Lacroix’s timing was impeccable. However as the 90’s wore on it became obvious that couture was no longer becoming viable.

The collection after being shown was never produced as Patou cancelled it and it went straight into the archives.

With all the rebirths happening or rumoured to happen, I think that Patou is a prime candidate for a relaunch. Maybe Christian should go back.

Liberty Faire!

I love London, for a variety of reasons and one of the main reasons is Liberty and Co. Forget Harrods (tourists only please and oh so de trop), Selfridges if I must, and Harvey Nicholls only at pinch, for none compare to Liberty’s. Always known for their tradition for fashionable and eclectic design, Liberty is the place to go for new upcoming designers that often reflect their passion for handcrafted work with savoir faire.

First incorporated in 1875 selling ornaments, fabric and objets d'art from Japan and the East, the store quickly expanded in to a fashionable stop for all things luxurious and exotic. Their clientele were equally exotic and included many members and admirers of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Housed in a magnificent Tudor building just off Regent Street the store has now become an icon of savoir Faire. Timbers from the HMAS Impregnable and HMAS Hindustan were used extensively in its construction.

Strong relationships were fostered with leading designers of the day especially within the Arts and Craft and Art Nouveau movements to create designs which are un mistakenly English and products with an exotic edge, which still continues to this day.
Liberty fabrics are instantly recognisable as such and have been highly copied and used by leading designers of their times such as Poiret, Saint Laurent, Cacharel, Jean Muir and Hermes.

*Hermes for Liberty Scarves
The designs relying heavily on arts and crafts and at noveau motifs are luxurious in their approach. Designs are continuously updated to reflect current moods and trends. Paisley, peacock feathers and floral patterns run riot across fabrics with abandon.

The furniture department is filled with modern day classics form the utilitarian to the cutting edge, stocking well known design classics to the avant garde.

The character of products carried by Liberty change very little compared to other major retailers. There is always a strong emphasis on good distinctive design maintaining an aura of exclusivity. The major goal in products carried and designed is to set trends while remaining true to the sensibility of founder Arthur Lazenby Liberty, while remaining cutting edge.

I was very surprised when I had read about the Liberty collaboration with Target, and think it was all done very well, without any design compromises being made to the design aesthetic.

So next time you are in London lose yourself in the Savoir Faire that is Liberty.
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