RECREATING CACHAREL

PARIS — There was plenty of curiosity about what the husband-and-wife team Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro would whip up at Cacharel. In the past, the collection was the French answer to the Gap, with a touch of easy Riviera style. “It’s so cute,” the editors all cooed. Cute, indeed — especially at prices around $80 to $200. For spring, Clements and Ribeiro matched sailor striped T-shirts with slim Toile de Jouy shorts or a flippy miniskirt, while their bold printed dresses with flyaway sleeves in kelly green, red and purple worked an Eighties chinoiserie angle.
Since their appointment in April to reinvigorate the house, founded in 1962 by current president Jean Bousquet, Clements and Ribeiro have made no secret that they wanted to inject a dose of fashion into the affordable line. “Cacharel is the true ready-to-wear because of its price points,” Ribeiro said. “Still, we want it to have a high-fashion edge.”
“Clements and Ribeiro have tapped into the true Cacharel spirit,” said Bousquet. “The line is about creative pieces that can be easily mixed and matched — all at an affordable price.”
Bousquet said that he expects his business to increase about 20 percent this season, thanks to the new collection. Last year, the house did $40.5 million in retail sales. Traditionally, Cacharel has mainly been stocked in its own network of about 100 stores, most of them in Europe. For spring, he noted, the line will add about 20 new accounts, including Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s.
Apart from presenting its first runway show in two decades, this season also marks the house’s first serious advertising campaign blitz in years. Bousquet has hired the hip Paris firm Work in Progress to oversee its new ads, shot by photographer John Achehurst, which will run in American fashion magazines such as Vogue, Bazaar and W.
“It’s just a start,” said Ribeiro, who, with Clements, is also overseeing all aspects of the house’s image. They presided over the new design for Cacharel stores, the first of which will roll out in September.
“Everything should reflect the designer edge,” said Ribeiro. “We don’t want to treat Cacharel just as a commercial line. Today, the most commercial lines have to be very fashion conscious.”

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