It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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The concept, two well-known, coveted brands coming together might be the same yet the recent collaboration between French brands Petit Bateau and Carven has little in common with the H&M collections in partnership with Lanvin, Karl Largerfeld or Comme des Garçons its has been compared with, beyond bringing two well-known fashion names together.

Petit Bateau and Carven feel much closer, in terms of brand DNA, than any of the other brands did, pre-PR spin on the matter. Their links go beyond clothes-making. They are both pillars of French fashion. Despite very different origins (one was born at the end of the 19th century as an underwear brand, the other after the Second World War to cater to luxury clients), they now answer to a similar fashion ethos made of well-cut items and quality fabrics. Neither is fast fashion, nor is their natural price point that different. While the price of a Lanvin dress can easily reach 100 times that of H&M, Carven ones are rarely more than five times that of a Petit Bateau: with a saving effort, the Petit Bateau customer is more likely to purchase an item from Carven than the H&M customer to buy into a luxury brand.

With common points outweighing their differences, Petit Bateau and Carven are a natural fashion match built on foundations stronger than financial and brand building imperatives. Judging by the reviews so far, these affinities have resulted in as strong a capsule collection as I would have expected from two of my favourite brands - I’ll be queuing on King’s Road on 4 December.

Posted at 8:42pm and tagged with: Carven, Petit Bateau, shopping, brand,.

"I was having champagne with my friends and thought it would be wonderful to have shoes that can easily match any outfit" explains Paris-based Céline Lagabrielle of the inception of her new ballerina shoes brand, Avant-Minuit. She imagined a pair of chic, colourful and elegant flats with an array of interchangeable bows allowing her to change the look and feel of her footwear ad infinitum.

A few months on, and her tipsy idea has become a fully-fledged brand with a trading website, an iPad app and enough buzz on the French fashion blog community to make jealous many established brands. A marketing and communication expert by trade, she’d long wanted to infuse her skills into an enterprise of her own making and is overseeing every detail of the launch.

Lagabrielle was adamant the ballerina flats had to look good with or without the bows, which meant a lot of trials and errors in finding the perfect eyelet to attach them on the shoes. The result, about to be patented, is a stud-looking attachment system.

Everything in the flats is about perfection, from the materials selected to their make, in a factory in Chôlet, a historical shoe-making city, in Western France. Lagabrielle believes producing in France “is riding the tide of history”, and could be made an example of bt the French Presidential candidates who lauded the “made in France label”. Yet, finding a French shoe factory wasn’t easy. In the end, Lagabrielle had to rely on the Syndicat français de la chaussure to find a workshop, but was presented with few options.

Fabrication and design solved, Lagabrielle started focusing on the communication plan for the brand. A Facebook fan page was launched in November 2011 to tease and gather interest, followed by a blog written by French blogger Marie Haumont of Besnob. An iPad app was released in April. The app is the playful character to the site more serious, trading spirit: you can have fun with bows and colours whereas the site, available since the beginning of May, is geared towards digital commerce. Lagabrielle is targeting the luxury online shopper, offering free online returns, even though she is hoping to open a store in Paris in the next few months and to expand to international wholesale, especially in emerging markets.

The launch Avant-minuit collection contains ten versions of the ballerina flat in canvas and velours leather, all leather-lined. A Parisian born and bred, Lagabrielle has named the pairs according to iconic Paris location: the bright boxwood and geranium Jardin du Luxembourg, the muted black and beige Triangle d’Or, the ingenue pink and greystone Souris de l’Opéra and the boho denim and earth Toiles de Montmartre. Each pair comes with a matching grosgrain bow, which the customer can build on by buying new colours separately. Shoes currently retail from €230 to €280, bows from €20, with a view to introducing even more luxury fabrics such as crocodile next season.

All photos courtesy of Céline Lagabrielle and Avant-Minuit

Posted at 5:55am and tagged with: footwear, france, brand, interview,.