PARIS — A children’s wear brand, a French couturier and an opera house are the unexpected partners behind the latest high-street designer collaboration set to hit stores for the holidays.
Petit Bateau has confirmed it worked with Christian Lacroix and the Paris National Opera on a capsule collection scheduled to go on sale on Dec. 6. Consisting of four styles for women and two for children, it will be available in Petit Bateau stores and at the Opéra Garnier boutique in Paris, a concession run by Galeries Lafayette.
“We are the first brand to develop this kind of partnership with them,” said Patrick Pergament, chief executive officer of Petit Bateau.
Lacroix has pursued a thriving career designing exhibitions, hotels and stage costumes, including for the Paris opera, since the couture house that bears his name was shuttered and reduced to a licensing operation in 2009. He’s now at work on Balanchine’s “Le Palais de Cristal,” with music by Georges Bizet, premiering in May at the Opéra Bastille.
Lacroix told WWD that Petit Bateau is synonymous with a happy childhood, and he approached the collaboration with relish. The designer knew his line had to be “iconic,” so he created belted sailor-striped tops in classic navy-and-white and a specially developed version in pink, red and black.
Lacroix added a tulle petticoat to give balletic volume to a monochromic skirt, and used velvet ribbons as piping or bows for an extra feminine flourish on other items. The line is meant “for both mother and daughter,” he explained.
Prices range from 85 euros, or $112 at current exchange, for a women’s top to 250 euros, or $330, for an evening dress in draped striped jersey. The children’s items are priced at 50 euros, or $66, for a top and 70 euros, or $92, for a dress. The tag on the items states “Petit Bateau et Opéra National de Paris par Christian Lacroix.”
Christophe Tardieu, deputy director of the Paris Opera, said the collaboration was part of a push to develop products with the Opéra National de Paris logo, which he hopes to extend into the field of shoes, accessories and dancewear, among others.
“We are convinced the Opéra de Paris brand has global recognition and is therefore valuable and can be commercially viable, so we are very keen to develop it. At the same time, we have to move cautiously, step by step. Starting with Petit Bateau and Christian Lacroix was a guarantee of security and of great quality,” he said.
“If we do branch out into ballet shoes, leotards and dancewear, it is obvious that we have an enormous [potential] market overseas, given the reputation of our ballet,” Tardieu added.
In recent years, Petit Bateau has collaborated with contemporary brand Carven, vintage specialist Didier Ludot, upscale retailer 10 Corso Como and Japanese designer Tsumori Chisato.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to bring people like that into our traditional French factories, which are 120 years old, and for people to suddenly find themselves having to do things that are a million miles removed from the underwear and pajamas they normally produce. It’s a real electroshock for both sides,” said Pergament.
The partnerships are also designed to give Petit Bateau a stronger visibility overseas as it seeks to expand its international footprint.
“We are looking to conclude very important partnerships in key countries worldwide like China, Brazil and Russia, in particular,” Pergament added, noting that Petit Bateau aims to open stores through license agreements with local partners and to develop e-commerce overseas.
The executive declined to provide sales figures for the brand, merely saying it was performing better than competitors in France, its main market, where apparel sales fell 1.5 percent in the first seven months of 2013, according to revised figures released by the French Fashion Institute, or IFM.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast