PARIS — Christian Lacroix, now a licensing operation following the exit of the founding designer and the shuttering of the couture house in late 2009, is moving back into women’s — innerwear, that is.

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

On Wednesday, the Paris-based firm unveiled its first lingerie and beachwear lines in partnership with French lingerie house Lejaby as part of its ongoing expansion into fashion and home.

“Since we no longer have women’s wear at Lacroix for the time being, I thought it was a nice wink of fate to start working on women’s wear again from the inside out,” said Lacroix creative director Sacha Walckhoff. “We are starting with intimates, and I hope that in the future we will be able to add the clothes on top.”

Walckhoff drew on house traditions for the lingerie collection, which consists of five lines inspired by Provençal themes, including bullfights and floral patterns. Priced to retail from 180 to 250 euros, or $260 to $360, designs feature lingerie of black chantilly lace overlaid with pleated tulle.

A laser-cut pattern on a half-cup bra, meanwhile, was inspired by a torero motif embroidered on a 2002 couture dress and cape worn famously by Madonna for a Steven Klein photo project in W magazine.

The designer went for a seasonal theme for the beachwear, also divided into five sections, paying homage to the French Riviera and its famed casinos. Priced to retail from 150 to 250 euros, or $215 to $360, the swimwear includes striped styles that can be mixed with corresponding items in matching block colors, featuring jeweled clasps.

Lacroix ended its previous lingerie license with French innerwear producer and distributor SIL Group in 2006, according to brand manager Léa Lapierre.

The house, which is scheduled to stage its first men’s catwalk display under Walckhoff in Paris on June 22, will introduce on the runway a few prototypes from its upcoming men’s eyewear collection, due to be unveiled at the Silmo trade show in September.

Further licenses are in the works, following the launch this year of men’s and women’s leather goods, jewelry and watches under a broad licensing pact with French firm groupe TWC. “Gradually, we are rebuilding a lacroix universe through all these partnerships,” Walckhoff said.

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