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LONDON — Roland Mouret is adding another cultural string to his bow.
The French-born, London-based designer, whose family hails from the Camargue region of France that’s also home to Christian Lacroix, is moving his show from London to New York in September. He doubled his sales last year to $1.6 million — and has started discussions with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“I think my designs are a combination of French sensuality and English quirkiness,” said the 42-year-old Mouret during an interview at his sunny studio off the King’s Road here. “I’m hoping that New York will add an easy elegance to them.”
He’s also keen to cultivate the U.S. market, which he and his business partner, Sharai Meyers, said represents the biggest potential growth market for the brand. “We don’t do ad campaigns, so our only way to grow is by going there,” Mouret said, adding that September’s show won’t be a one-shot deal. “We want to make a serious commitment to the American market, and we feel we have to be there, on site, to see what it’s all about.”
In the U.S., the label currently sells at Henri Bendel, Kirna Zabête and Louis Boston. Thanks to a commercial Web site that Mouret launched last year, the brand also sells via smaller retailers in Idaho, San Diego and Aspen. U.K. outposts include Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Browns and Liberty.
About 60 percent of the business is generated in the U.K. with exports making up the remaining 40 percent. The U.S. represents the largest chunk of Mouret’s foreign sales, followed by Europe and the Far East. The company projects sales of $2.6 million for the fiscal year ending next April.
Dollar figures are converted from the pound at current exchange.
The spring collection, which includes ready-to-wear, jeans, knitwear and accessories, is produced in-house via factories in France and Italy. This season, Mouret will also add swimwear. Retail prices range from $368 for a jersey tunic dress, to $720 for a jacket, to $960 for a coat. Mouret also designs jewelry for men and women labeled RM Rough Jewellery Collection.
Mouret moved to London in the early Eighties after working in various parts of the fashion industry. He started as a model, worked as a stylist for French Glamour and an art director for Robert Clergerie, before turning his hand to clothing design. He showed his first rtw collection at London Fashion Week in February 1998 with 15 one-of-a-kind pieces that were folded and draped and held together with pins and studs.
Mouret’s New York runway show, slated for Sept. 18, will feature a “greatest hits” collection — it’s also a departure from his fall 2003 collection, which was dark, sexy and reminiscent of Courrèges designs.
“I wanted to revisit all my work since I started. I’ve learned so much over the years. The collection is colorful —inspired by early Peter Lindbergh pictures. It also has an early Walt Disney fairy tale feel to it — but with some darkness,” said the designer.
Mouret has also returned to draping — especially for slinky evening gowns with Art Deco embroidered collars.
Mouret also confirmed market speculation here that he is in discussions with LVMH. The luxury group had no comment about Mouret specifically, but a spokesman said the conglomerate talks to lots of designers about various projects. It’s no secret, however, that it is looking for designers for its Celine and Kenzo lines.
“We have been approached by them, but it’s very early,” he said. “We would like to find the right project for them and for us. For the moment, however, we’re just focused on getting this show on the road.”