PARIS – French contemporary designer Claudie Pierlot died last week at the age of 61.

Pierlot and her business partner, the fashion company René Derhy, sold their shares in her signature label, which includes ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrances, to fellow contemporary players Sandro and Maje just last month.

“With much sadness, we have learned about the death of Claudie Pierlot at 61, barely 18 days after selling her business,” stated René Dehry, for whom Pierlot worked for more than 10 years. “It is a dear friend and a great designer who leaves us.”

Pierlot began her career in knitting factories in the south of France before joining French knitwear specialist Dorothée Bis. She went on to design junior lines for Printemps department stores before joining design agency Mafia.

She founded her signature brand in Paris in the early Eighties, with backing from Derhy, with the goal of offering chic and feminine, yet affordable designs for young women. Highlights of this summer’s sailor-themed collection include striped dresses and tops, plus a leopard-print coat.

Outside France, the brand’s main market, Pierlot is sold in some 13 countries including China and the U.S. The label, which operates three stores in Paris, has been developing its own-store network, recently opening a boutique in Taiwan. Sales last year were reported to be 5 million euros, or $7.4 million.