'Gulf princesses' hold key to lingerie firm revival

Gulf princesses. The key to success holds in two simple words for Maison Lejaby, a historic lingerie maker rescued from collapse 10 months ago, and newly revived as a purveyor of "Made in France" luxury.

Nestled in a Paris courtyard a stone's throw from the Louvre, the firm this month opened what it dubs a lingerie Couture Salon in the hope of seducing the mega-rich shoppers who populate the neighbourhood's dozen five-star hotels.

"These women know luxury, they come to Paris two or three times a year to shop," said Lejabi's chief executive Alain Prost, who has been promoting his firm's services to luxury hotel concierges across the capital.

"The idea is simple -- we want to bring the Parisian couture salons back to life," he told AFP. "It's inspired by the salons of the late 1940s and 1950s, where clients would come to watch a fashion show, then slip into a fitting room, and stay for as long as they liked."

"Lingerie is still sold mostly in malls or department stores -- but lingerie is something highly intimate, you want to be somewhere calm, you want good personal advice."

Especially if you are a millionaire, it goes without saying.

Thick carpeted fitting rooms, with deep armchairs and scented candles, are designed with such VIP shoppers in mind, whether Gulf princesses, rich young Russians or Chinese.

Catherine Deliance, the salon's manager, has high hopes for the festive season, when wealthy Middle Eastern families take over hotel floors, sleeping late into the day before heading out on collective shopping sprees.

"These are women who adore lingerie, I have seen them buy the sexiest outfits -- sometimes behind their grandmother's backs!"

While these VIP shoppers are its key target, the salon also offers smaller private rooms for regular Parisian clients, "who can come to see a lingerie show, for a hen night," said Prost.

-- "Haute couture has no lingerie equivalent" --

A former chief executive of the Italian lingerie firm La Perla, Prost is quite clear on what went wrong at Lejaby -- a house founded in 1884 that saw its turnover divided by four, from 80 to 20 million euros ($100 to 25 million), between 2009 and January 2012 when he acquired it in a state of near-bankruptcy.

"Its products had lost their soul. The strategy was to use a respected name -- Lejaby -- to sell low-cost goods made in China," he said. "The company lost 60 percent of its retail partners over three years."

"So we now know that was not the right strategy."

Instead, Prost is betting on the appeal of French know-how and craftsmanship to revive the house's image -- and fortunes.

"French haute couture holds an unrivalled place in fashion, but there is no equivalent in lingerie," he said.

Showcased in the Paris salon, the firm has launched a new line dubbed Maison Lejaby couture, entirely hand made in France using locally-sourced materials -- from Calais Lace to Lyon silk -- usually reserved for designer fashion.

Each garment is individually numbered and signed with the name of the seamstress who made it.

Models include an Empire-style half-cup bra, in strawberry pink silk with an underlay of Calais lace, soft jersey lining and velvet straps, to be paired with a pleated tulle petticoat, open at one side.

Off the shelf "couture" bra and panties sets start at 250 euros while made to measure pieces -- like a black slip that doubles as a cocktail dress, in Calais Lace with Lyon embroidery and silk -- range from 1,000 to 5,000 euros.

Prost kept 200 staff on the books, out of more than 600, and today employs 160 people in the Lyon region. The firm is also partnered with a workshop being set up near Lyon, that will employ 25 former Lejaby seamstresses.

No more Chinese outsourcing, although it will continue to use a Tunisian supplier for it main retail line, to be relaunched in the summer.

"Apart from us, no major lingerie player is doing 'Made in France' anymore," Prost said. "It's not an easy thing to do these days. You have to rebuild the whole production chain."

Maison Lejaby has so far secured retail deals for its couture collection with the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores in Paris, Harrods in London and half a dozen outlets in Russia.

This year it expects to turn over 24 million euros and hopes to break even in 2013 on a projected turnover of 30 million euros.



Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • A Young Malay Woman Is Trapped In A Marriage She Doesn’t Want #ShortFilm
    A Young Malay Woman Is Trapped In A Marriage She Doesn’t Want #ShortFilm

    This article A Young Malay Woman Is Trapped In A Marriage She Doesn’t Want originally appeared on Viddsee BUZZ. Nope, she wasn’t forced into a marriage. Nope, she wasn’t exploited. Nope, she wasn’t abused. But it clearly isn’t what she wanted for herself. That’s exactly what ‘Sangkar’ (Cage) is about: what a young girl, or woman, wants in a … Continued Download the new free Viddsee iPhone app to watch awesome short films offline http://www.viddsee.com/ios …

  • Celebrity birthdays for the week of April 5-11

    April 5: Singer Allan Clarke of The Hollies is 73. Actor Max Gail ("Sons and Daughters," ''Barney Miller") is 72. Actress Jane Asher is 69. Singer Agnetha Faltskog of Abba is 65. Actor Mitch Pileggi is 63. Guitarist Mike McCready of Pearl Jam is 49. Country singer Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry is 48. Singer Paula Cole is 47. Country singer Pat Green is 43. Rapper-producer Pharrell Williams is 42. Rapper Juicy J (Three 6 Mafia) is 40. Mike Eli (Eli Brown Band) is 34. Lily James ("Downton …

  • South African comic Noah will replace Jon Stewart
    South African comic Noah will replace Jon Stewart

    NEW YORK (AP) — The choice of South African comic Trevor Noah as Jon Stewart's replacement on "The Daily Show" advances an intriguing new trend of late-night comic hosts with a more worldly perspective while continuing the longer-running pattern of keeping those jobs filled with men. …

  • 'Dancing' Week 3 Elimination
    'Dancing' Week 3 Elimination

    "Dancing with the Stars" has one less celebrity competing for the mirrorball in Season 20. …

  • Selena's dad: Mixed feelings about fans marking star's death
    Selena's dad: Mixed feelings about fans marking star's death

    SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Twenty years after Selena's murder, the Latin world will remember "The Queen of Tejano" with concerts, lookalike contests, dances and a massive festival. But her father has mixed feelings about the celebrations. …

  • 'Arrow'/'The Flash' Spin-Off Latest
    'Arrow'/'The Flash' Spin-Off Latest

    It's still only in development, but the cast of the "Arrow"/"The Flash" spin-off is growing. Joining Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold/Leonard Snart), Brandon Routh (The Atom/Ray Palmer), Victor Garber (Prof. Stein), Dominic Purcell (Heat Wave/Mick Rory) and Caity Lotz (in an unnamed role) are "Doctor Who" alum Arthur Darvill and actress Ciara Renee. Ciara will play Kendra Saunders, aka Hawkgirl, a name that stems from one of her past lives as an ancient warrior. 'Arrow' is sort of a …

  • No 'narsisstics': Music festivals ban fans' selfie sticks
    No 'narsisstics': Music festivals ban fans' selfie sticks

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — You can bring your beach towels and floral headbands, but forget that selfie stick if you're planning to go to the Coachella or Lollapalooza music festivals. …

  • Jay Z, Madonna, Minaj among owners of new streaming service
    Jay Z, Madonna, Minaj among owners of new streaming service

    NEW YORK (AP) — Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce and Jay Z are among the A-List musicians who are co-owners of Tidal, a streaming service being billed as the first artist-owned platform for music and video. …

  • Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Celebrity News - Fri, Feb 20, 2015 1:47 AM PHT
    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce’s #Flawless image is embroiled in controversy once again. On Wednesday, a web site called The Beyonce World leaked 224 allegedly raw photos of the musician. The images showed Bey in full makeup for the 2013 L’Oreal ad campaign — but with the kinds of “imperfections” we all have — beauty marks, bumps, creases. In the wake of Cindy Crawford’s unretouched photos, the images have been praised by critics of a beauty industry that sets impossibly high standards, standards that Queen Bey …

  • Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    omg - Sat, Feb 14, 2015 12:14 AM PHT
    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    The 25-year-old released the video for her third cut from platinum selling album 1989. …

  • My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    Write Away - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 2:29 PM PHT
    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    For my mother-in-law Mrs. Elsa Yrastorza Yuzon, flying and soaring in the skies is part of her normal routine. But it reached new heights when Pope Francis boarded Shepherd One. …