PARIS — Dressed Thursday in an army jacket tossed nonchalantly over an orange silk blouse and black trousers, Loulou de la Falaise has always had a knack for mixing the basic with the unexpected — to surprising effect.
This story first appeared in the September 6, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It’s a formula she intends to apply to her new venture: a Loulou de la Falaise fashion house slated to open at 7 Rue de Bourgogne here early next year.
This confirms reports in these columns that de la Falaise, one of Yves Saint Laurent’s key muses and collaborators, would set out on her own following the couturier’s retirement last January.
In an interview in the salon on Avenue Marceau where Saint Laurent held his historic farewell press conference, de la Falaise unveiled her plans for a signature line of clothing and accessories.
“It’s obviously luxury. But ideally, I’d also like to have items that are very affordable, all the way up to furs,” she said. “My aim is not to make fashion. I’m not going to have fashion shows. I just want to make desirable things. I want things to be well made, original and with a touch of fantasy, with strong research in colors and mixtures of colors and textures.”
De la Falaise said it’s too soon to talk about style specifics — or even prices. “I want to start with the shop and see what happens,” she said. But she did not rule out wholesale distribution down the road.
“It’s very difficult to do very tiny quantities,” she said.
De la Falaise was also reluctant to discuss the financing of the venture, although she admitted she has partners. It is believed Saint Laurent, his business partner Pierre Bergé and Eric de Rothschild are among the investors, as reported.
Bergé and Saint Laurent recently bought back the couture house they founded for one euro and are embroiled in negotiations with the workers’ union over its shuttering. Orders on the final YSL couture collection should be completed next by month.
De la Falaise said she was encouraged on all fronts, including loyal Saint Laurent clients, to start her own label. “Everybody pushed me into it,” she said. “They said, ‘We are expecting it. We want you to do it.’”
Her new “maison,” near the picturesque Place du Palais Bourbon in a retail space previously occupied by a Lina’s sandwich shop, will comprise three floors. “It has pretty proportions. It looks like a little English house,” she said. “We were lucky to find it. I did prefer being on the Rive Gauche [Left Bank].”
De la Falaise said the main floor and part of the first floor would be used for retail space, with the rest for her design studio, a press office and a commercial showroom. She noted she also plans to take on other design consulting contracts for fine jewelry or home furnishings.
The boutique is expected to open at the end of January, which would catch the couture crowd.
“It might have to be in February, but that’s OK. We quite like the idea of Valentine’s Day,” she said smiling, an allusion to the heart, a recurring motif of Saint Laurent’s.