PARIS — The future for fashion designers lies in the Internet and department stores, according to independent Paris retailer Maria Luisa Poumaillou — and she’s leading the way.

This story first appeared in the June 9, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Poumaillou on Tuesday told WWD she would shutter her multibrand boutique store on Rue Rouget de L’Isle here this August to focus on a new phase in her retail career. Poumaillou, who in January 2009 was appointed fashion editor of the Printemps department store, said she now wants to focus efforts on her shop-in-shop on the second floor of the revamped Haussmann flagship and the development of an e-boutique set to open this fall on, operated by Yoox.

She characterized both avenues as “100 times” more powerful in terms of visibility and sales for designers than a destination boutique like hers that carries labels such as Marios Schwab, Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane.

“I was not 100 percent convinced myself, but when I see the efforts Printemps has made…I have total liberty and we’re giving them much more exposure,” she said, adding she plans to step up the number of in-store events in Printemps over the coming months.

“The evolution of the retail sector over the past 20 years has been colossal,” added Poumaillou, recalling how indispensable independent stores were to small brands when she first started out. The scene has changed radically since the advent of the Internet and the opening up of department stores such as Printemps to more directional fashions, she said.

Poumaillou said she plans to develop her fledgling signature label, which is distributed in around 30 sales points. Poumaillou, who also has Maria Luisa-bannered boutiques in Hong Kong and Doha, Qatar, said she may dedicate her store at 38 Rue du Mont Thabor to the clothing line. Ferragamo’s Creations, which has occupied the space for the past year, ends its contract this summer.

Poumaillou, who opened her first store in 1988 at 2 Rue Cambon, said she is also in talks with partners to open stores in China and Japan.

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