French brand Cacharel has had its fair share of designers rotating through the creative chair over the past 10 years or so. Founded in 1962, they pioneered the seersucker blouse on a 1963 Elle cover, are praised for their work with Liberty of London, and have put out a large range of successful perfumes (notably Anais Anais, whose campaign starred Kate Moss). Yet these deep roots seemed to wither in the new millennium and the company has since struggled through a revolving door of artistic directors.
Husband and wife team Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro took the reins in 2001 and were fairly successful as lauded Central St. Martin’s alums that Hussein Chalayan once deemed better designers than himself. However, in 2007 they left to re-launch their eponymous line Clements Ribeiro and Cacharel hired another duo, Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto of Eley Kishimoto. Despite previous work with the likes of Alexander McQueen and Jil Sander, they only lasted two seasons. Cédric Charlier then took over, and his promising collections, such as Fall 2011′s floral-resplendent wool pieces breathed new life into the womenswear line. Thus, it came as a surprise in March when it was reported his contract would not be renewed this year.
It goes without saying that the brand needs a dual shot of stability and modernity; enter French-educated Chinese design partners Ling Liu and Dawei Sun. The two met while studying at Paris fashion school L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture and founded Belle Ninon together in 2009. Prior to their partnership, Liu worked under Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga, then Stefano Pilati at YSL in both womenswear and menswear. Sun also put in time at Balenciaga, later working with John Galliano for over five years. With Belle Ninon, their combined styles produce a slightly masculine, couture-inspired aesthetic, with soft wools and silks in angular yet flattering forms, clearly inspired by their past experiences with the older couturiers yet reinterpreted into a unique and modern silhouette. Their efforts finally saw some recognition this year, when they received the jury prize at the 2011 Elle France New Talent Fashion Awards.
This acclaim led them to the Cacharel position, where they will now be joint artistic directors for all the brand’s lines, including womenswear, childrenswear, menswear and accessories. They’ll begin their work with the Spring 2012 collection, to be shown at Paris Fashion Week in October.
Hopefully these new, definitely talented hands can work some life back into a long-standing French name.