PARIS — Isabel Marant is having a banner year, with a new home in Paris and six boutiques opening worldwide.
The French designer and her team will soon move from cramped offices in the east of Paris to new headquarters off the central Place des Victoires, making the jump from a 7,500-square-foot space to a 21,500-square-foot office to accommodate her fast-growing label’s expansion.
The Bohemian-chic brand, beloved of celebrities like Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Bilson, will open stores in Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Paris, London and Los Angeles, virtually doubling the number of stand-alone units worldwide to 14 by yearend.
But Marant, whose designs have spawned scores of high-street copies, says it is all part of her carefully controlled growth plan.
“I have no desire to become a multinational,” the designer, wearing a varsity-style sweatshirt with leopard-print pants and high-top wedge sneakers, told WWD over lunch in a lively restaurant in the Bastille area of eastern Paris. “Our development is very targeted, very precise, with a clear idea of where we want to open boutiques and in which geographical regions we want to be present.”
With some 670 points of sale worldwide, Isabel Marant posted wholesale revenues of 62 million euros, or $82.9 million at current exchange, in 2011, up 44 percent versus the previous year, according to Sophie Duruflé, the brand’s managing director.
The main Isabel Marant line accounted for 40 percent of that total, with the lower-priced Etoile line making up 42 percent, and shoes, accessories and jewelry 18 percent. France now represents just 20 percent of sales, down from 50 percent three years ago, with the European Union accounting for 37 percent and non-EU countries 43 percent.
“Our revenues are skyrocketing,” said Duruflé, noting that the brand has gained 190 points of sale since summer 2010. “We get a lot of inquiries from retailers, but we prefer not to add too many at once, because it’s already a lot to handle.”
Accessories, in particular, are in hot demand, with Marant regularly producing “It” items like last season’s suede boots wrapped with silver chains. But the designer does not plan to significantly expand her accessories offerings, noting that her husband — leather goods designer Jérôme Dreyfuss — is the handbag honcho in the family.
“I have an issue with brands pursuing growth through the development of loads of ancillary products,” she said. “I need to do things with conviction. I’ve been asked 50,000 times to produce a scent, but I don’t like perfume, it’s not something that comes to me naturally. I want to dedicate myself fully to things I truly believe in.”
She cites as an example the limited edition watch made with ethical gold that will go on sale today at her stores on Rue Jacob and Rue de Saintonge in Paris to coincide with her catwalk show. Inspired by her late father’s watch, which Marant wears for good luck, the timepiece retails for 7,140 euros, or $9,600.
Nonetheless, Marant is evolving. The designer will open a fourth Paris store in the tony 16th arrondissement in August, across town from the hip eastern Paris enclave that has become synonymous with her artfully nonchalant style.
The Paris store, like the London and Los Angeles boutiques, will be directly managed by the brand, while the three planned stores in Asia are partnerships with local firms.
Among Duruflé and Marant’s other top priorities are developing the Russian and Middle Eastern markets, and launching an e-commerce site.
“My dream is to continue being as successful as we are today, and to be able to continue developing the brand the way we are developing it now, slowly but surely — serenely,” Marant said.
“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