PARIS — Weeks after he opened his first shop in Saint-Tropez 20 years ago, French designer Jean-Claude Jitrois got a unexpected visit from Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Strolling incognito in the seaside Riviera town, she arrived unannounced to...
PARIS — Weeks after he opened his first shop in Saint-Tropez 20 years ago, French designer Jean-Claude Jitrois got a unexpected visit from Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Strolling incognito in the seaside Riviera town, she arrived unannounced to shop, leaving hours later with several outfits.
Before that moment, Jitrois questioned whether he could make it in fashion. He had abandoned a professorship in psychology at the University of Nice to pursue his passion.
"When Princess Stephanie walked in, everything went ‘click,’" he recalled in an interview. "I knew that if a princess, who had access to the most celebrated couturiers in the world, decided to buy my clothes that I could make it. That there was a niche for me to fill."
Today, Jitrois enjoys a widening reputation for sexy, rock ’n’ roll–inspired designs in leather worn by the likes of Céline Dion and Elton John. And his business is growing faster than ever.
Orders for fall increased 20 percent, and sales this year are expected to top $12 million. He is carried in 80 shops around the world, including Le Bon Marché, Janet Brown, Harrods and Galeries Lafayette, where his is the top-performing designer collection.
He recently opened a shop in Marbella, Spain. Hot French architect Christophe Pillet will redo his Paris storethis summer. Jitrois also operates boutiques on London’s Sloane Street and Red Square in Moscow. He plans to open a location in Cannes, France, within the next year. Meanwhile, the designer was just honored with the French Legion of Honor in a ceremony attended by actress Charlotte Rampling, among others.
But for all his growing accolades, Jitrois said he prefers to lurk on fashion’s fringes. He doesn’t do runway shows, for example, and he dismisses fashion’s too-quickly changing winds.
The designer describes his underground style as "part chic, part louche."
"I think that clothes need to flatter the person before they flatter the designer. My principal preoccupation is doing clothes that flatter a woman’s body. Women come to me when they want to feel sexy and strong."
Jitrois, 58, is perhaps best known for the stretch leather he developed in the early Nineties. Working with Dupont, he fused leather onto stretch cotton and then used the fabric to make pants and skirts."The problem with leather trousers has always been that they stretch out," he said. "But this leather stays taut. It works like a girdle. A woman who usually wears a size 10 wears a 6. The trousers totally mold her body. It gives her a great tush."
This year, Jitrois introduced ruched leather. For fall his collection includes skin-tight leather trousers, corsets and jackets in fur.
At Paris department store Galeries Lafayette, Jitrois’ in-store shop generates the highest revenue per square meter on the designer floor, according to buyer Sylvie Choux.
"He beats all of our brands, from [John] Galliano to Chloé," Choux said. "It’s been a big surprise for us. But Jitrois has products that make women look great and he understands that women want to look sexy. When a woman visits his stand, she leaves with something. His clothes are almost irresistible."
Jitrois acknowledges his good fortune at a difficult time for other independent fashion designers.
"It’s only now that we’re really coming into our own," he said. "I think you need about 20 years to establish a fashion brand. I think I have at least another 10 years doing this. And then I’m going to sell it all. I’ve already had two careers. I want to have a third."
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)