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PARIS — Paco Rabanne has promoted its hip young studio design director Lydia Maurer to the position of creative director for women’s wear. Maurer will present her first collection for the house during Paris Fashion Week in October and will also oversee accessories.
This story first appeared in the June 6, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The news comes one month after the house, which is owned by Barcelona-based Puig, revealed that it had parted ways with designer Manish Arora by mutual agreement after two seasons of collaboration. The Indian designer was brought on board last year to revive the brand’s dormant fashion business.
Maurer, 29, joined the Paco Rabanne studio in November to help oversee the house’s fall collection, which garnered positive reviews, attracting a number of key new retailers, such as Le Bon Marché. The brand for now has a niche positioning and is distributed in about 50 points of sale.
Maurer was born in Germany and is half-Colombian, half-German. She studied fashion design at Studio Berçot in Paris and has worked on the design teams of Yves Saint Laurent, Martine Sitbon and Givenchy.
In an exclusive interview with WWD on Tuesday, Paco Rabanne’s vice president Vincent Thilloy shared some of the attributes that, for him, make Maurer the right woman for the job.
“She has a true vision of what Paco Rabanne’s [fashion voice] is and what sets the house aside from the pack in terms of design signatures. She brings a real freshness,” he said. “She has this sensual Latin side, but also this sense of rigor that is very Germanic, with a real architectural approach to construction — she is very Rabanne.”
Taking a baby steps approach to growing the business, focusing on quality production and distribution networks, the aim is to build a ready-to-wear line that has a strong design identity but is also wearable, he added. “The end goal is that it sells,” said Thilloy.
Aside from some knitwear produced in Italy, the brand’s entire collection, including accessories, is made in France.
Maurer has spent the past few months getting acquainted with the house’s archives, which she described as a “treasure trove.” She said she aims to “organically” channel house codes in a contemporary wardrobe, prioritizing femininity, sensuality and comfort.
The designer wants to develop more sensual takes on the house’s iconic materials, such as metal mesh.
“We started by thinking about wearability,” said Maurer. “Paco Rabanne has always had a hard time existing [outside of] its beautiful iconic dresses that were made out of metal or plastic, or other uncanny materials, so the main concern was really to start by rendering [looks] more feminine, fluid and warm.”
The aim is to appeal to real women while retaining an avant-garde spirit.
“We don’t want to say no to performance artists like Lady Gaga [who wore pieces from Arora’s first collection for the house] because obviously that is part of [the Paco Rabanne] universe, but that is not the only reason we are here,” she said. “Obviously, the Paco Rabanne woman likes to go out, she’s a woman of the world.…She is not necessarily going to come to Paco Rabanne to buy clothes for wearing to the office, but we also want to appeal to women who don’t necessarily want to be living sculptures.”