Expansion is on the 2013 agenda for Paul & Joe's Sophie Albou. At the third arrondissement space where her latest collection was set up for buyers, a brand-new handbag line was front and center. A bag business helps assure entrée into emerging markets; it also fills out a designer's own stores. After focusing on wholesaling for many years, Albou is eager to open her own boutiques.
That's why her new pre-fall lineup was more diversified than ever. On the one hand, she's elevated her offerings, incorporating Swiss-made guipure lace into a shift dress, say, or embroidering necklines with big clusters of crystals. Prices will be about 5 to 10 percent higher than usual. On the other, lower end, she's pushing the cute factor. Hand-knit sweaters featured cat and wolf faces that were echoed in the accessories. As for the middle, Albou ranged from Asian motifs to the rounded, cocoonlike shapes of Cristobal Balenciaga (a popular leitmotif at the Couture shows) to standbys like her best-selling jumpsuits. All in all, this was a sellable proposition.
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