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Cacharel gets new design duo

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today Feb 26, 2008
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PARIS, Feb 26, 2008 (AFP) - Away from the hullabaloo of the catwalk presentations of autumn-winter ready-to-wear fashion, an Anglo-Japanese couple are in Paris this week to promote their debut collection for the vintage French label Cacharel.


Philippe Cardon

Cacharel's pretty fitted blouses and shirts in Liberty prints and skimpy shetland jumpers were widely copied in the 1960s and 70s, but have since fallen off the fashion map.

The British duo Clements Ribeiro spearheaded a revival and now London and Toyko-based Mark Eley and Wakoko Kishimoto have taken on the mantle, at a time when 1970s nostalgia looks set to make a big comeback.

Their appointment was all down to a loyal customer of their own label Eley Kishimoto, the French artist Sophie Calle, who also happens to be a friend of Cacharel's founder Jean Bousquet.

Bousquet admired what Calle was wearing so she sent round a suitcase of their clothes from her own wardrobe and he invited them to head up the design team at Cacharel.

It has all happened so quickly, since last November, that what is on show is only a capsule collection, Eley explains, but next time it will be a full-blown runway show to mark the brand's 50 years.

So far they have been delighted at the reaction. "People are saying it is just so Cacharel,"he says.

Cacharel is one of those quiet brands which form a mainstay of Parisian chic at an affordable level, or "available clothing" as Eley calls it. It has kept a certain retro charm and offers a viable alternative to women who hate bling and do not want to bare everything.

Eley sees the Cacharel woman as "the kind who goes into a boutique and is drawn to a garment rather than a label, someone who is intelligent and creatively savvy."

The new design team has a lot of experience with working for other labels and the fit at Cacharel has been harmonious.

Their speciality is prints, one of Cacharel's hallmarks, and their own label is particularly geared towards the French, Italian, Japanese and Hong Kong markets.

Rather than bold, most of the prints are pebbles, blobs or scribbles like doodling, which works particularly well on petite figures.

For next autumn-winter, their "Good girl rain or shine" collection is a mixture of "school days nostalgia" -- reminiscent of uniforms -- "weekends" for relaxing at home and "going out" party frocks.

Granny coats, smocks, shirtwaisters buttoned up to the neck would all be unforgiving on any but the very young, but the same prints worked into swishy layered pleated skirts with sashes and grown-up party frocks would work for any age.

by Sarah Shard

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