COUNTDOWN TO PARIS
IT TAKES TWO

Byline: Jessica Kerwin

NEW YORK — Pascal Humbert may not attract as many stars to his front row or indulge in the kind of runway antics that the fashion world has come to expect at the couture, but that doesn’t mean his collection has escaped notice. “We’ve been watching his couture for two years and thought his approach was sophisticated and sleek,” says Julie Gilhart, vice president fashion merchandising at Barneys New York. “We were hyperventilating for him to do ready-to-wear.”
Well, hyperventilate no more! Barneys will launch Humbert’s first ready-to-wear collection this month exclusively in the U.S., while the new line has been picked up by Maria Luisa and Onward Kashiyama in Europe.
“Now it’s one collection that runs from T-shirt to the couture gown,” says Humbert, who sent out his first couture collection in 1998. “It’s like doing an entire closet — the jeans, the T-shirt, the jacket, the dress+.” Unlike designers who prefer to put a certain distance between their various collections, Humbert considers them both part of the same continuum. Each showcases his subtle way with trompe l’oeil, and retail prices for the ready-to-wear line are about $270 for a shirt, $840 for a coat and $960 for a dress, peaking right where the couture prices begin.
“Couture was a way to approach designing clothes without a big studio and without a big production,” he says. “With couture you develop a patience for structure, and I’m more ready now to do the ready-to-wear.”
“Besides,” the designer admits, “it’s the easiest thing to do if you want more customers to wear your clothes.”

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