Sale of French couture label Paul Poiret buffles today’s world of luxury business

The rights to the historic Parisian label of Paul Poiret (established in 1903)are currently owned by Luxembourg-based Luvanis, a self-described “developer and reviver of iconic heritage brands.” Poiret was in business from 1903 until 1929, at which time his designs had become outdated and his clients taken over by the likes of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou. It has lain dormant ever since.

Luvanis has taken the unusual route of publicly listing the brand for sale on its website; interested parties are invited to apply and sign a non-disclosure agreement by November 14. The company is accepting applications from both corporations and private parties, who are asked to provide “a brief background on your business interests, notably in luxury.” Once approved, would-be buyers will gain access to an online data room before submitting their bids.

Paul Poiret, like Elsa Schiaparelli and Miucci Prada today, was a most sensible and witty manipulator of design, with artistic controversy as the main strategic approac.  Poiret made his mark with a kimono coat and similar, loose-fitting designs created specifically for an un-corseted, slim figure.

He designed flamboyant window displays and threw sensational parties to draw attention to his work. His instinct for marketing and branding was unmatched by any other Parisian designer. In 1909, he was so famous, Margot Asquith, wife of British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, invited him to show his designs at 10 Downing Street.

The cheapest garment at the exhibition was 30 guineas, double the annual salary of a sculley maid (scullery maids were the lowest-ranked and often the youngest of the female servants and acted as assistant to a kitchen maid)