Paul Poiret Is the Latest Dormant Fashion Brand Facing a Revival

But is there enough interest in the name to generate excitement about a revamp?
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Dhani Mau
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But is there enough interest in the name to generate excitement about a revamp?
Inside the "Poiret: King of Fashion" exhibit at the Met in 2007. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Inside the "Poiret: King of Fashion" exhibit at the Met in 2007. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Because there aren't enough fashion brands out there already, apparently, houses that have been dormant for decades are routinely being bought up and resurrected by large conglomerates and businessmen. Recent examples include Schiaparelli, revived by Tod's CEO Diego Della Valle; Courrèges, reinstated by former ad execs Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting; and Charles James, which is in the process of being resurrected by Harvey Weinstein. Next up: Paul Poiret, the French house that made waves in early 20th-century Paris by eschewing corseted styles in favor of loose-fitting garments now associated with that era in fashion. The label has been dormant for more than 80 years.

Arnaud de Lummen, managing director of Luxembourg-based holding company Luvanis, sold the brand's global trademark rights and an archive collection via online auction to Korean company Shingsegae International, which is known for its retail partnerships with luxury brands like Givenchy, Céline and Burberry. The company plans to redevelop Paul Poiret in Paris, and across several product categories.

A Paul Poiret look at the "China: Through the Looking Glass" exhibit, currently on view at the Met. Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

A Paul Poiret look at the "China: Through the Looking Glass" exhibit, currently on view at the Met. Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

But the question remains: Is there enough interest in Paul Poiret in 2015 to generate excitement about a revamp? With Schiaparelli and Charles James, the announcements of their resurrections coincided with big, publicity-generating Costume Institute exhibits at the Met. The houses were fresh in the public's mind. Paul Poiret probably isn't. The late designer was the subject of a Costume Institute exhibit, but in 2007. A few of his designs were featured in the Met's current "China: Through the Looking Glass" show (he employed orientalism quite a bit in his work), but they weren't the most memorable.

It will be interesting to see how Singsegae, which has never resurrected a fashion house before, approaches this project. How will it educate a new generation of consumers about the brand? Will it take the path well-traveled and hire a well-known creative director — as Halston did by hiring Marco Zanini during its ill-fated revival in the mid-aughts, or Della Valle did with the same designer at Schiaparelli?

Historically, Poiret was known for his ability to design what women wanted, and also for thinking about a lifestyle beyond just clothing — he was the first French couturier to launch an official scent, for instance. Shingsegae, and whomever takes the creative helm, would be wise to uphold that sensibility as it redevelops this brand.