PARIS — It’s been a busy start to the year for Officine Générale’s Pierre Mahéo since presenting his men’s collection in January, with the creation in just four weeks of a women’s line due to be presented in a Paris showroom March 4.
“It’s a small miracle, but sometimes when you want something, you make it happen,” said the founder and creative director of the Paris-based label, who expects over the next two years that women’s wear sales will become double that of his men’s wear business, which launched in 2013.
The collection will sit in the same affordable luxury positioning as his men’s line, he said, with a focus on timeless classics in high-quality fabrications using premium fabrics sourced from Britain, Japan and Italy.
“The women’s market is much bigger than men’s, which is still a growing market, but there is a niche for high-quality product at decent price points,” said Mahéo, who added that he had received requests from a number of retailers carrying his men’s line to add women’s. While he declined to disclose figures, sources estimate the brand generated total sales of $3.3 million in 2015.
Mahéo said the fall women’s collection, which features about 80 pieces, borrows from his men’s line in terms of finishing and details, but is still “superfeminine. We did a capsule for women based on smaller sizes of our men’s line for Le Bon Marché’s “Le vestiaire voléaux hommes” [“The wardrobe stolen from men”] concept in 2015, which worked great, but that is not the idea here,” he said.
Items include fitted denim, blouses with ruffles and raw edges, and long shirts studded with itty-bitty versions of the flat, gold buttons typically found on men’s blazers. For the constructions, Mahéo incorporated tailoring elements from men’s wear on the inside of jackets, coats and pants.
The designer also revisited a men’s robe he found in a vintage store in Brooklyn, worked in flannel with a contrast silk shawl collar. Highlights from the outerwear section include a military four-pocket parka in a washed olive Japanese fabric, a leather bomber with a removable fur collar and a double-breasted navy coat with black piping. A lot of the pieces come fitted with deep interior pockets for the modern woman on the move. “I’ve noticed that a lot of women leave the house without a bag nowadays, so I’ve created pockets that can hold a phone and a notebook, or whatever,” said Mahéo. Prices range from about $220 for a blouse to $2,500 for a blazer.
Fabrics include a seamless brushed Shetland wool from Scotland, a Storm System fully water-repellent wool, flannels by Fox Brothers, and “amazing Italian velvets in deep, rich colors.” The label’s knitwear is made in Italy, and the shoes come from England, with the bulk of the brand’s production done in Portugal.
Mahéo, who for now has been concentrating on fine tuning the fits on the women’s line, spending time adjusting shoulders, say, or working on a certain shape of collar, said the only missing element is skirts and dresses, which will be introduced for spring 2018.
Officine Générale counts roughly 120 points of sale around the globe, including Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods. The brand owns two stores in Paris, with a third store due to open here later this year. The brand is also actively scouting a London store, Mahéo said.