Luxurious, loose-fitting gowns by famed designer Paul Poiret have been off the market for over 80 years, but that isn’t stopping a French entrepreneur who specializes in reviving defunct fashion labels from selling off rights to the Poiret brand in an unusual online auction.
“In my experience, sleeping beauties usually appeal to luxury leaders or entrepreneurs who have experience in managing brands, but Paul Poiret is so well-known it could attract lesser-known investors out of the blue, including from developing markets,” Arnaud de Lummen, who owns the brand through his holding company Luvanis SA, told Women’s Wear Daily. De Lummen has previously sold the rights to fashion label Vionnet and bag and trunk maker Moynat.
Poiret, famous for popularizing drapey designs and abandoning corset-based styles, both scandalized and seduced early-20th-century Paris. Known as the “King of Fashion,” he was in many ways the Karl Lagerfeld of his day, showcasing his designs with a marketer’s instincts and a courtier’s charm. Costume Institute curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which in 2007 exhibited a retrospective of his work, observed that Poiret “employed the language of orientalism to develop the romantic and theatrical possibilities of clothing,” pointing to his harem pants and “lampshade” tunic as emblematic of that legacy.
The auction comes on the heels of ongoing mergers and acquisitions in the fashion and design sectors, with investment groups buying up tony French and Italian labels. Qatar Holdings owns Harrods, as well as stakes in Tiffany, LVMH, and Porsche; and Chinese investors now own over 200 Italian companies. There is even a matchmaking website for Italian business owners and their Chinese counterparts.
As for Poiret, materials from the archives and other documents are now available to interested buyers on the brand’s website, with initial bids due November 28. Analysts expects bids to come in at $4 million to $6 million.
[h/t Women’s Wear Daily]