Chantelle Group, the 133-year-old French bra company, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Chantelle brand at La Grenouille in Manhattan last month.
Patrice Kretz, president of the $500 million business, hosted the luncheon on May 15 for some 40 members of the media, where models strolled and posed along a balcony and stairwell wearing a number of embellished Chantelle bras and undies. Also on display were visuals of ad campaigns throughout the decades, including one highly successful ad from the Sixties that had a tag line saying “On Aimes les Seins,” or “We Love Breasts.”
Kretz is a third-generation owner of Chantelle lingerie, which traces its roots back to 1876 as a maker of elastic knits, became a corset specialist in 1902 with stretch elastic fabrics and introduced the first Chantelle bras in 1961. Kretz said the Chantelle name was inspired by either a village or a woman.
“My grandfather spent some time in a village called Chantelle, which he was very fond of,” said Kretz. “But then, he also had a mistress named Chantelle. It’s still a mystery.”
Chantelle’s operations in the U.S. began with Neiman Marcus in the late Fifties, when the brand started marketing and selling shapewear, expanding into the bra business for American women in the early Seventies. Today, Chantelle products are sold in over 700 department and specialty store doors in the U.S., with the Chantelle brand being about one out of 25 bras sold in department stores, said Sonja Winther, president of the U.S. division, Chantelle Lingerie Inc.
“Over the last 10 years [1998 to 2008], our sales have more than doubled,” said Winther, who would not give an actual sales figure. “The increase over the last five years has been about 35 percent.”
Regarding European business, Kretz noted that since April 2008 the Paris-based company has opened two additional Chantelle stores, now totaling six in France, and operates two Passionata boutiques for its young, contemporary brand.
As part of a strategic growth plan, the firm acquired the 65-unit Orcanta lingerie chain from French luxury and retail group PPR in August 2006. Orcanta had annual sales in excess of $63 million. Under Chantelle’s aegis, the number of Orcanta stores was cut to 58. They continue to sell fashion lingerie brands, including Lise Charmel, Aubade, Simone Perele and Lejaby, as well as classic products from Calvin Klein Underwear.
Kretz added the company continues to retain model Stephanie Seymour in Chantelle’s multimillion-dollar ad campaign called “Beyond Beauty,” aimed to appeal to Chantelle’s core customer in the 30-to-35 age range.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast