Before she recently passed away, Maria Luisa spoke to Sarab about her journey with Printemps.
With Printemps covering the big 150 year milestone, Sarab got the last interview with the belated Maria Luisa, fashion editor at Printemps.
What is so different—and special—about the 150 Year Celebrations at Printemps?
Well… 150 years is quite something already, not many brands or stores can actually boast having been around for 150 years. To be honest that number itself is pretty impressive!
The anniversary has been prepared for some time and it’s totally 360° involving every aspect of the store from beauty to fashion.
Of course with a lot of in-store events starting from this spring (Printemps!) and collaborations with brands, limited edition and exclusive products…
The whole store will be decorated in this specially designed pink flower theme. The anniversary will be year-long and will cover our favorite and strongest moment, Xmas time!
How were you involved in the preparations for the Printemp’s celebrations?
As the fashion editor of Printemps, I’m the eye and voice of Printemps regarding all things fashion—really so I’ve been pretty involved in a lot of aspects especially the first ideas and general brainstorming of the anniversary.
What’s new that you can share with us especially about the celebrations?
The main focus at Maria Luisa, apart from exclusive designer collaborations with Moschino, Christopher Kane, JW Anderson, Simone Rocha, Manolo Blahnik, is the launch of a ‘Maria Luisa for Printemps’ anniversary capsule—of which I’m very proud and excited about.
It’s an exclusive wardrobe signed Maria Luisa, with a made-forthe- occasion abstract floral print (mosaic-like, somehow) of everyday cool pieces that are super-strong in the total look, and separately give a real boost to any silhouette. For women, of course, but also a few pieces for men like a T-shirt, sweat shirt and Bermudas. The women’s pieces are my daily staples: a mac, biker jacket, crepe jumpsuit, boxy dress… easy pieces with a twist and at affordable prices. Very dynamic and versatile.
Please explain to our readers your role in a department store?
“Fashion editor” is my official title at Printemps, which is pretty unique in the fashion industry, which is a title usually for magazines, but once, for a department store. It’s not your average job as I wasn’t
headhunted or anything close. My work at Printemps is twofold: The main and most visible part of my job is the multi-brand Maria Luisa that we set up in the middle of the designer/luxury floor at Printemps—in the heart of fashion really.
It started in 1988 as one of the first leading multi-brand stores for emerging designers. Maria Luisa is a first for a department store around the world. They usually have an emerging brand/ young designer token section that is poorly selected most-of –the-time lacking energy and expertise.
Our store carefully edits and chooses select designers and their collections—ones who are exciting, of course, and who are not big enough to live on their own in a corner of a department store—which is quite a few. It’s an edited selection with a personal, strong point-of -view on current fashion.
The other part of my work is more undercover and less visible: as an outsider. I don’t have an office there, and I have other stores not linked to Printemps (online, China and Qatar).
I have a very free point-of-view on fashion. Let’s say through my experience I tend to think out-of-the-box so I guess it’s why Printemps asked me to work for them.
My expertise includes proposing, preparing and hosting events to trend/business analysis, store planning catalogues, image, of course; and always together with the dedicated and extremely motivated Printemps fashion team led by their dynamic head of the womenswear buying department, Charlotte Tasset. I’m the eye and the voice of Printemps for fashion!
At Printemps, of course, I don’t make the final decisions for the corners/concessions as it’s the Printemps business, somehow. I can only talk about my full responsibility, which is about which designers I’m including every season in my limited selection. I’m not going for the flavor of the month to drop them the next season. I will always commit myself to a designer because I fully believe in them supporting, showcasing and selling their vision.
What is truly important is a unique identity. There are so much clothes around but not many with a deep specific vision—a balance of art and commerce, edge and wearability, avant-garde and elegance. It’s pretty difficult to get into Maria Luisa. But after twenty-five years, I’m happy to say I haven’t been proven wrong very often from Nicolas Ghesquiere to Riccardo Tisci or Chistopher Kane or JW Anderson.
Who are your favorite designers?
Martin Margiela, Nicolas Ghesquière, John Galliano, Riccardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Anderson…
Who inspires you?
My mother is still the most elegant woman around (shot by the Sartorialist many times). She demonstrates that style has no age and my daughter, Eugénie, has the most natural and exciting mix ’n match between designers and high-street I’ve seen.
What’s your favorite part about taste-making and chronicling fashion?
Meeting people, discovering inner worlds, new aesthetics and visions.
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion editors?
Work hard, check magazines, visit stores. Don’t stay stuck on blogs and the internet as clothes are real and made-to-be worn by real people. Listen to yourself but try to imagine other people’s taste too.