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Féraud’s Latest Incarnation

PARIS — In an age of one-word brands in fashion, Jean Paul Knott figures it’s time to go back to personalities.<br><br>That’s why the Louis Féraud Paris ready-to-wear collection, which Knott is slated to unveil here Wednesday,...

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PARIS — In an age of one-word brands in fashion, Jean Paul Knott figures it’s time to go back to personalities.

That’s why the Louis Féraud Paris ready-to-wear collection, which Knott is slated to unveil here Wednesday, is meant to convey the late couturier’s philosophy, spirit and legacy.

“Rich,” “sporty” and “fun” were among the words Knott used to describe the essence of the Féraud style. And his spring collection, dubbed “Ibiza chic,” expresses it in such items as cashmere jogging suits, strapless chiffon gowns and motorcycle jackets in shaved mink.

“What I’m trying to do with this collection is figure out a way of taking what was done, what is done with the licenses and in the main ready-to-wear line and make it all stick together,” Knott said in an interview. “It’s really an incredible challenge.”

When Knott was named the designer of Féraud’s new luxury sportswear line last June, he plunged himself into Féraud’s world, devouring books and magazine articles about the designer, even visiting his favorite haunts and neighborhoods. Knott dug up some interesting nuggets. He learned that Féraud had licenses for kimonos and motorcycle clothes in the Seventies, which will be conveyed through several silhouettes next season.

Féraud, now majority owned by Escada Group, has had a rocky time on the road to rejuvenation. The house recently suspended couture activity in order to put the accent back on its bread-and-butter Féraud collection of suits.

Knott said his collection, now the flagship for the brand’s image, is completely different. “Here, it’s going to be about a sporty woman who doesn’t work — or who doesn’t think about work when she is wearing these clothes,” he said. “Louis Féraud came from Cannes and it’s that Cannes attitude of being a bit over the top sometimes,” he said. “The Féraud woman is blonde.”

Knott continues to produce his two-year-old signature line. He’s scheduled to show it Friday. Differentiating between the collections, Knott said the woman who wears Jean Paul Knott is “square” — more severe and intellectual — whereas the Louis Féraud woman is “round,” wanting to enjoy life and maybe even show off a little.

Meanwhile, Féraud recently unveiled another corner of its new direction: a redone two-story flagship on the Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré here with marble floors and a minimalist interior. The walls are yellow with polished steel fixtures. Also, a new women’s fragrance is expected in late 2003. Féraud’s volume last year was about $28.5 million.

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