It looks like another luxury fashion brand is about to come back from the grave. The century-old Parisian couturier Paul Poiret, has just been purchased by the South Korean fashion conglomerate Shinsegae International. The brand’s trademarks and archival pieces had been on the market for almost a year, but it looks like it is now in very good hands. Shinsegae International’s portfolio of luxury brands includes Moncler, Céline, Brunello Cucinelli and Givenchy. The brand is expected to first launch beauty and fragrance before moving to accessories and then ready-to-wear.
“They want to reinvent the DNA and make it relevant to today,” said Pierre Mallevays, managing director of Savigny Partners, representatives for the seller. “They’re not buying it to make it a Korean brand. They’re buying it to develop it based out of Paris and distribute it on the international market. They’re very sophisticated, and they really understand brands.”
The house was known for its comfortable silhouettes and billowing shapes in the 1910’s and early ‘20s. Decades before cultural appropriation was even an issue, Poiret was bringing items like haram pants, kimonos and turbans from eastern cultures to western women’s wardrobes, allowing them to embrace a more relaxed aesthetic. After WWI, the Parisian fashion climate started to change and thanks to the popularity of new designers like Gabrielle Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin, Poiret was forced to close the house in 1929. He died in poverty in 1944.
Poiret’s designs have cropped up from time to time over the years. In 2005 Azzedine Alaïa's Paris flagship held an exhibition in his honor and his designs were the inspiration for the theme for the 2007 Met Gala. Most recently his oriental designs were seen in the Met’s China: Through the Looking Glass exhibit. While it’s undeniable he had an influence on fashion’s history and an untold number of designers, only time will tell if enough interest can be generated around this long-gone brand to keep it afloat in a new century.