By  on October 5, 2010

PARIS — Paco Rabanne is kicking off the revival of its fashion business with the relaunch of its iconic 1969 chain-mail bag in a range of new materials.

The line is being presented at the Hotel Crillon here today.

Vincent Thilloy, Rabanne’s vice president, described the creation of the bag four decades ago as a riposte by Rabanne to Coco Chanel for having labeled him a “metalworker.” Its reintroduction is a first step in repositioning the brand.

The new 1969 line is in stingray, horn, metal, vegetal and glitter leathers and suede. Retail prices go from $1,400 to $2,200.

Whipping out a photo of a young Brigitte Bardot carrying the original 1969, Thilloy said it captures the unique spirit with which the company wishes to move forward, respecting the experimental, visionary character of its founder. Known for his use of unconventional materials, Rabanne’s original design featured a handle made from metal links typically used for lavatory chains.

“We want to come to market with quality initiatives,” said Thilloy. “The level of awareness for the brand is huge, there are big expectations.”

Working with Paco Rabanne, Rei Kawakubo chose materials for three interpretations of the original 1969, which will sell exclusively in nine Comme des Garçons stores.

These and the main Paco Rabanne line will launch at London’s Dover Street Market in January for one month, then roll out to select retailers. Comme des Garçons International is also handling distribution of the main line to select retailers, as reported.

Since joining the Puig Group-owned brand in 2009, Thilloy has been plotting a new business model for the house’s dormant fashion business, which was shuttered in 2006.

Accessories will be the first point of attack for slowly re-establishing the brand, he said, followed by clothing in the near future. Said Thilloy: “We need to come back and enrich the image of the brand.”

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