A sharp Eye on Fashion

In recent years, concept- and multi-brand stores have sprung up like mushrooms in Paris and elsewhere. Often Colette is described as the first one in Paris. But that's not quite correct.

When it comes to fashion, Venezuelan born Maria Luisa Poumaillou was the first to have ventured onto the multi-brand terrain in a neighbourhood that was, at this time, anything but cool.

It was in 1988 when she opened Maria Luisa, her first boutique on Rue Mont Thabor, gathering in one place the different designers that she had been keeping her eye on.

And what an eye. Maria Luisa, as she is known and called in the fashion-world, has an extremely sharp  eye, and a very strong point of view. From the very beginning she sought out the brightest and often unknown designers. And most of all, she was interested in young designers from different countries (not just the French ones) and in a way she broke the stranglehold of the classic fashion houses here in Paris. She has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge fashion, supporting an impressive list of young talents long before they were known: Rick Owens, Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, you name them.

The Paris fashion world was shocked when she announced this summer that she will be closing down her boutique on Rue du Mont Thabor where, in the meantime, she also had opened an accessory store and a boutique for men. She still has shops in Hong Kong and one in Doha, Qatar, but what pushed her to close down her boutique on Rue du Mont Thabor was the opening of the corner, her own window in department store Le Printemps. She has even launched her first capsule collection designed by herself. Have a look in her corner-boutique in Printemps and you’ll see and feel what’s coming next. And remember their names: Holly Fulton, Lutz, Rad Hourani, they all will certainly be famous soon. You also will find Victoria Beckham who is already, famous of course. But the fact that her dresses have been selected by Maria Luisa is a true fashion accolade for her, the ultimate seal of approval.

In choosing what was a sleepy neighbourhood behind rue de Rivoli and Place Vendôme more than two decades ago, Maria Luisa was also a trendsetter. The success of her boutiques attracted a lot of other boutiques and Rue du Mont Thabor has since become and, read my lips, will remain an extremely cool and well-hidden hunting ground for fashion people, even once the Maria Luisa era has passed.Photos:
Maria Luisa Poumaillou