Purely Paris: Claudie Pierlot
Two adjectives typify the clothes Parisiennes love best: chic and select. Here, every woman pursues a personal vision, using individual fashion repères, or landmarks. One beloved of younger Parigotes is Claudie Pierlot, a label whose Paris fashion is girlie and timeless.
This brand’s cult standing goes back more than two decades. But, until recently, Claudie Pierlot was mentioned less. That’s because, three years ago, its namesake founder passed away. The brand took quite a bit of time to recover.
Madame Pierlot started out as one of the city’s premier stylists, first for Dorothée Bis, then Mafia, then Printemps. In 1984, she launched her own label and, by 1990, it had clinched a fresh identity. The Claudie Pierlot girl is a carefree Parisienne, with clothes that come in shapes Audrey Hepburn would love.
The look is distinctive, charming but never cloying. Madame Pierlot managed to update Paris fashion icons, creating bold marinières, delicate polos and cardies, breezy car coats and chic pencil skirts. Her suits and dresses come in gamine colors and fabrics; fans especially love the personalized berets.
When she fell ill, Pierlot made careful plans for her brand, finally selling it to the group that owns Maje and Sandro. Already major shareholders, they knew it had a big future.
Nevertheless, their first collections were awful—what had been a twist on the classics briefly turned into parody. The new owners first splashed Pierlot’s name across the clothes, along with Eiffel Towers and slogans such as “I love Paris.” When Pierlot boutiques across Paris emptied, the instant judgment of local girls was clear.
By the end of 2010, the label had recovered. Top model Audrey Marnay was brought on board to contribute, and she helped reinterpret Claudie style. The brand started focusing on Paris fashion from the streets—adding leather touches and resurrecting drainpipe trousers. This winter, Claudie Pierlot brogues in pony and patent were everywhere. So was a jacket splashed with stars that French style bloggers loved.
Other Pierlot trademarks have now received a rethink. Among them are feminine tops in stripes and petits pois (polka dots), as well as dainty black dresses. On the horizon for spring are flowered wedge sandals, sheath sundresses and cocktail pants that lace up the calf.
Last Christmas, Claudie Pierlot opened a store in St.-Sulpice. Passing its well-dressed windows in that tag-hag arrondissement offers proof that its founder’s vision has endured. For those of us who always loved it, that is something special.
TIP One loss from the original label is the black ribbon bow once attached to every shopping bag. Another is the small but well-loved perfume collection of Mon Premier, Eau de Claudie and Eau de Pierlot. However, some of these scents can still be found—both online and in niche perfumeries. If you plan a trip to Rome, for example, look in the profumerie near Via Corso and in the Campomarzio70 stores.
Editor’s note: Sign up for our free newsletter and get the first look at our recipe and wine of the month, and enjoy special invites and giveaways.