Paris comes to W11 as fashion label Claudie Pierlot launches its stylish new store in Westbourne Grove, finds Shona Wallace
Since the 1920s, women with a head for fashion have sought to emulate the effortless elegance of the French. Once it was the couturiers that reigned supreme, with Parisian style typified by the likes of Givenchy, Chanel and Dior. In recent years, however, the innate French sense of style has evolved with new brands embracing modernity, ingenuity and accessibility. Step forward, then, Claudie Pierlot, London’s new kid on the block.
The latest addition to the Westbourne Grove set, Claudie Pierlot’s West London boutique stands on the corner of Ledbury Road, formerly home to fellow French contemporary and sister brand Sandro. It’s as though Claudie Pierlot was made to appeal to the modern Notting Hill woman, combining classic shapes and styles with a distinct creativity inspired by the heritage of the brand.
Founder Claudie Pierlot began her design career in the late sixties, travelling the world as a junior designer at Printemps and then René Dehry. Taking direction from Mrs. Dehry, Claudie launched her own label in 1983, seeking to appeal to the discerning Parisian fashionista. Claudie’s style was to adapt the classics with her own idiosyncratic details.
During the 1990s, the brand was a great success, establishing their identity and signature style. In 2009, Claudie passed away, and in that same year the shareholders of Maje and Sandro acquired the label. Over the past year, Claudie Pierlot have focused on reviving the brand and building a global presence: moving forward, without losing their integrity.
It is the notion of combining past and present that perhaps best describes the look of the label. ‘Claudie Pierlot is a brand unique in its position, both with a strong DNA coming from the past, and real intent to look towards the future,’ says the label’s artistic director Vanessa Pierrat, ‘we like to reinvent classics with a contemporary twist, experimenting with silhouettes through fun fashion statements.’
Bringing in fun and creativity, Claudie Pierlot sets itself apart from other French fashion labels. Instead of focusing on Parisian grunge, à la Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent, Claudie Pierlot seeks to update simple French staples with idiosyncratic details. ‘Our style is a mix of casual and very clean silhouettes styled with a preppy edge,’ she explains of the brand’s signature aesthetic, ‘and I love playing with scale, mixing a chic oversized coat with jeans or layering a great sweater over a feminine dress at night.’
Nevertheless, Claudie Pierlot seeks to play to the strengths of iconic French style. ‘French women look like they never try too hard,’ says Vanessa, ‘they have a natural, almost nonchalant way of wearing clothes, adding strong accessories to twist their style.’ With Claudie Pierlot pieces, there is no danger of looking contrived, for simplicity is always at the forefront.
Having established a loyal client base over thirty years, the brand has a clear vision of the Claudie Pierlot woman. ‘She is a natural, joyful young woman,’ enthuses Vanessa, ‘she is worldly and loves to discover and learn. She exudes confidence and has a willful personality, naturally very curious and open minded to the world around her.’
Be it New York or Tokyo, the creative team travels the world in search of hidden vintage gems. ‘Everything starts with a shopping trip,’ says Vanessa of the creative process, ‘we look at high-end brands, but detail and inspiration mainly comes from vintage pieces. I find unique, unequalled creativity in vintage.’
The vintage influence is notable in this season’s collection. For Spring/Summer 2014, Claudie Pierlot focuses on modern romanticism in balletic shades of petal pink and nude. With antique floral slip dresses and delicate silks sitting alongside sporty white denim, the collection balances insouciant femininity with a slick youthful edge. ‘Something strong can be paired with something subtle,’ says Vanessa of the collection, ‘it is all about adding a personal touch to make your sense of style unique.’
Claudie Pierlot’s cool girl signature of classic meets contemporary lends itself well to international expansion, and London was an obvious choice for the brand. ‘I love the contrast in London,’ explains Vanessa of the move, ‘London is a cultural melting pot and this is what I love to work with, I find it fascinating juxtaposing silhouettes and colour palettes.’
Perhaps it could be said that Claudie Pierlot combines the polished poise of Paris with a touch of London’s eclectic spirit. It is all in the styling, of course, but the new collection is full of pieces destined to compliment the London look, namely the golden teddy jackets and fluffy outsized sweaters.
With sights set on further UK expansion in 2014, alongside a broader line of statement accessories, the future is looking bright for Claudie Pierlot. A little preppy and a little playful, this is evidently a brand intent on reinventing French fashion with a touch of joie de vivre, just as Claudie would have wanted.
176B Westbourne Grove W11 2RW